Going by the title of this paper you are probably asking yourself How in
Gods name can torture be seen as an art, were these people mentally ill?
well it was, but I talk about that later, let me tell you a little about the
history of torture. Torture has been around since the times of Ancient Greece
and is still around today, usually in the Mafia. Other than the mob, torture
isnt very common in our society. Punishments arent near as harsh as they
used to be back in medieval times. The only punishments we have now are jails,
the punishments there were in medieval times were numerous and downright inhuman.
Torture would keep criminal from doing something wrong again, assuming he lived
through the torture. The punishments we have today are laughable and dumb.
Big deal, you are thrown in prison for a few years, you dont suffer one bit,
but to the inmates, being thrown on a chain gang is so terrible. Being given
hundreds of paper cuts and being rolled in salt, now thats terrible and Im
sure the convi
ct will never break the law again. Places like Singapore still
operate like this. It happened to that one teen who decided to spraypaint some
cars. He thought he could get away with it and he almost did, but he shortly
found out that he had a little pay-back coming to him. The kid was caned, and
he hasnt done anything dumb since. Torture like this works, torture is a way
that can really make you have second thoughts before you do anything stupid.
Torture was practiced in numerous ancient civilizations. Convicts and war
prisoners were put to death by using torture to give them a slow, humiliating
death. To some American Indian tribes, it is a custom to torment and burn prisoners.
Crucifixion was a popular torture technique in ancient Rome. Rome also used
torture to get slaves, criminals, just about anybody, to get them to talk about
secretive information. You see in these ancient Roman times, people were given
information and were told that they should never tell this information to no
one, well the Romans found out about this and this caused a major uprise in
the use of torture.
In 12th century Europe torture became very widespread
like it had just did in Rome. Before Europe began using torture, they relied
on a more common judicial type of settlements for crimes, by the 13th century
confessions and eyewitness testimonies came about and were used to determine
if a person were guilty or innocent. But guess what was used to get these confessions
from convicts, torture was used, torture was used a lot, but it could only
be used if there was a numerous amount of evidence against the defendent. From
the 14th to 18th centuries in Europe, torture was a very common thing of the
legal process of a majority of the European countries and even the Roman Catholic
The Roman Catholic church used torture as a way of punishing
heretics at the order of inquisitors. The Inquisition played a big part in
the world of torture. The inquisition was a church founded in medieval times
that was setup to find and prosecute heretics. The punishments for being a
heretic were extreme punishments, stuff you would cringe at thinking about,
such as the vise. You might have seen this device on the movie Casino. The
victims head would be put in the vise and then the executioner would begin
to tighten a little screw at the top of the vice, causing the victims head
to start to compress. This technique was used a lot for getting people to confess.
The Inquisition was greatly defended during the middle ages. People saw it
as okay, since it was a religious thing. Father Saint Augustine perceived Luke
14:23; So the master said to the servant, Go out to the country roads and
lanes and make people come in, so that my house will be full., as biblical
proof of endorsing the punishment of heret
The Art of Torture:
Believe it or not, torture was considered an artform. Were these people
desperate for entertainment, though I would never see a person getting tortured
as entertaining (unless it was a few of my most despised teachers, your not
one Ms.Blohm) but some messed-up indivduals did. In the words of Victor Hugo,
The guillotine is the ultimate expression of Law, and its name is vengence.
The executioner, in the theatre of the guillotine, has a very special role.
He is the first one to walk on stage and that last one to walk off. The executioner
is the only permanent member after he and the victim end their very short uneasy
relationship, as he releases the rope.
The guillotine was one of the most
popular spectacles to the people in the Middle Ages. The decapitation of the
enemies of the people was used as celebrating. Some people saw the guillotine
as too quick to be dramatic, so they made up for that by the way they would
bring up the victims to the stage where the guillotine standed tall in all
its gory glory. The victims were usually aristocrats, the people would sing
and dance while the soon-to-be-dead rich guy was escorted by the man who would
end his life. People took pleasure in seeing the ultimate law enforcement
device in action.
These people really took executions seriously, and
would go crazy if anything would malfunction during the execution. For instance
the story of Chalier, a man who constantly threatened the bourgeoisie of Lyons.
A brand new guillotine was going to be used on Charlier. The new machine wasnt
set up properly causing the guillotine huge blade to slowly slide down to Charliers
neck. Three attempts later did nothing but deepen the cut on his neck. Ripert,
the executioner had to get the job done by using a knife and since Charlier
was a bald man, he had to hold up the head by the ears instead of the hair.
This grotesque scene of death led to the execution of the executioner and his
assistant. Back then you were killed for not killing the correct way.
Tools of Medieval Torture:
The tools used for torture range from completely
pointless and humorous to flat out excruciating. Some tools were used to embarrass
while others were to severly punish people and others were to torture a person
with classified information to the point of pain where the victim would just
lie so that his misery would end.
The Iron mask was an iron mask that
was bolted shut. The mask usually displayed the face of something funny, like
a pig or boar. You had to sleep, eat, and walk around with this iron pig face
stuck to your head. This wasnt really torture, it was usually used for people
that talked to much or compained about society. The Nags Bridle was a device
that was locked over peoples mouths to prevent them from talking, if the person
still talked, it was removed and replaced with one that had spikes all around
the mouth area. This wasnt really a light torture but it was a lot lighter
than others such as the Pears, needles, thumbscrew, bamboo, and Painful cuts
tortures, these tortures were used to just plain hurt.
Pears were pear-shaped
metal objects that were inserted in the victims mouth and the victims anus.
After the device was in place, a screw at the top of the Pear could be turned,
causing the Pear to open up. The needle torture was very, very painful. Huge
needles were pierced through certain parts of your body and left there. The
executioner would leave after this. The unknowing victim might try to remove
the needles which was very, very dumb. You see, in the needle torture, every
single time you moved muscle tissue began to rip, even if you moved just an
inch or two. The thumbscrew was a very popular technique that used for getting
people to talk. The victims thumbs were placed on the device and tightened
like a vise. The victims thumbs would be crushed until he or she would say
what they were hiding. The bamboo torture is like was done to torture POWs
in Vietnam. Bamboo reeds are shoved under your finger nails, after a while
you get used to the throbbing pain, until you figure out that the bamboo start
to grow. You see, bamboo can use body fluids to grow, imagine a bamboo reed
growing all the way to your wrist then being yanked out. The Painful cuts torture
is a very crude one like the bamboo torture. The executioner would give the
victim paper cuts all over his or her body, then the executioner would pickup
the victim and roll him or her in salt. The shock of pain sometimes killed
some of the victims. Now to execution, the torture to the death, a slow death.
The Ordeal of Three is one of the most gruesome and least known of all tortures.
The victim is cut open, then a Gila monster, a live Gila monster is sewn inside
the victim. The carcass of a dead buffalo is opened up and the victim is placed
inside, sewn in, and left to die. The Hook is another gruesome torture in which
the victim is impaled on a hook and hung for everyone to see. The Spanish Horse
is one the nastiest ways to die. A spiked pole pushed into the anus of the
victim and then standed up. The victim dies of being impaled by his or her
own body weight. The Columbian Necktie is what this torture technique is called
now. The Columbian Necktie is when the victim throat is slit open and the tongue
of the victim is pulled through the opening. This is one of the few tortures
still used today, this technique is usually used by mobs.
this paper on the history, art, and tools of medieval torture, all I can say
is that the Middle Ages were a time were crime was not tolerated. Punishments
were sever and done to keep a criminal from ever breaking the law again. This
use of severe punishments worked unlike the legal system of today where criminals
are living a better life in prison than most of the poor are living. Prisoners
just go back to what they were doing after they are released from prison, and
they usually end up back in prison. Not too many criminals in the Middle Ages
were dumb enough to go out and break the law after being tortured, there was
no prison were they could spend years in, torture was a fast and effective
way of showing a criminal to never ever break the law again. Torture, one
of the few legal systems that worked.
B I B L I O G R A P H Y
and the Terror, Arasse, Daniel.1987 Penguin Press.
The Executioner’s Homepage,
and ID Software at http://www.idsoftware.com,
for the cool picture.