Historic Torture Devices Used to Elicit Confessions


Around the 12th or 13th centuries drawing out confessions of those accused of witchcraft, people who were thought to be heretics, or individuals believed to be in league with the devil faced professional inquisitors and specialized equipment designed to obtain their affirmations of guilt.

Some Common Physical Torture Devices

A frequently used tool of agony was called a strappado. It was simply a chain or rope securing the person hand and arms behind their backs. The rope was hoisted above the individual head using a pulley or similar winch. The victim would be suspended for long periods or repeatedly lifted and slammed to ground. The strappado crippled the shoulders and upper body of those unfortunate enough to receive it. Thumbscrews, pill winks, or skull crushers were vise like or holding instrument of distress. They were employed to be slowly tightened around the fingers, toes, ankles, knee, or head. The questioner would torment his victim with each deliberate dawdling, brutal twist of the screws. These immobilizing mechanisms crushed or shattered bones with great efficiency. The Iron Maiden was a coffin like metal container. The accused would be place with the iron box for indefinite periods. Sometimes the inquisitors would stab the victim or place hot irons through strategically positioned holes. The holes were created in specific area to derive ultimate pain from those being questioned. The rack was a table winching article of truth. The victim would lie upon the rack with bound feet and hands that were pulled away in opposing directions. The spine would splinter if the individual did not repent his sin.

A Number of Customary Psychological Methods

More-often-than-not, psychological torturing lead to a victim’s quick admissions of wrong doing. The mere thought of facing a sadistic minded questioner directed people to confess. For those with a stronger constitution the inquisitor utilized solitary confinement, sleep deprivation or starvation. Some other common trails included, mock executions. The prey would be prepared to be hung, shot, ran-through, burned at the stake. Seconds before the murder was completed the victim would be received his reprieve. In addition, torture by proxy gained rapid results. The accused would bear witness as someone he cared for received one of the aforementioned methods. Panic was another regular avenue of anguish. The heretic would be held submerged underwater, smothered with a cloth, or choked until he complied.

In Conclusion

Torturing devices have been employed throughout history. Anyone having the misfortunate of being accused, guilty or not would generally admit his or her guilt when subjected to one of these brutal instruments.