The Museum of Medieval European Instruments of Torture was created in the northeastern (octagonal) tower of the citadel in its lower tier in 2012. It is especially popular with tourists. It presents samples of the most common instruments of torture that were used in medieval Europe. A similar museum operates in the nearby Akkerman fortress in Ukrainian Belgorod-Dnestrovsk. These instruments of torture were actively used by the Inquisition.
The word "inquisition" comes from the Latin inquisitio, which means "search, investigation." This was the name of the Catholic Church Court, which investigated the cases of heretics, that is, found out whether a person really was one. Heretics were anyone who deviated in any way from the Catholic faith, and also practiced witchcraft or false prophecy. That is, the Inquisition combined the functions of both the investigative body and the court. And the execution of the sentence was the prerogative of the secular authorities, although the erroneous opinion that the inquisitors burned heretics at the stake is quite common. The official use of torture was authorized in 1252. Prior to that, they were also used, starting in 1235, when Pope Gregory IX, by decrees issued between 1231 and 1235, transferred the functions of persecuting heretics to the inquisitors.
Instrument of Torture: Pear
This horrific device has been used to torture women who have had abortions, liars, blasphemers, and gay people. A pear-shaped instrument was thrust into one of the victim's orifices: a woman's vagina, a homosexual's anus, a liar's or blasphemer's mouth. The device consists of four petals, which are slowly separated from each other while the executioner turned the screw at its base. At a minimum, the device tore the skin, but at maximum expansion it mutilated the opening of the victim, could displace or break the jaw bones. Pears that have come down to us are distinguished by engraving or decorations. According to them, the executioners distinguished between anal, vaginal or oral pears. This torture rarely led to death, more often other methods of torture were used along with it.
Instrument of Torture: Interrogation Chair
The interrogation chair was used in Central Europe. In Nuremberg and Fegensburg, until 1846, preliminary investigations were regularly conducted with its use. A naked prisoner was seated on a chair in such a position that at the slightest movement spikes pierced his skin. Usually the torture lasted several hours, and the executioners often increased the agony of the agonizing victim by piercing her limbs, using tongs or other instruments of torture. Such chairs had various shapes and sizes, but they were all equipped with spikes and means of immobilizing the victim.
Instrument of Torture: Prayer Cross
The victim was chained to this instrument of torture crucified. Below was a brazier, the fire of which slowly roasted the sacrifice. The prayer cross was created at the border of the 17th-12th centuries, probably in Austria. This is indicated by an entry in the book “Justice of the Past”, which is located in the forensic museum in Rothenburg, Germany. The author of the book talks about one such cross, which was located in the tower of the Salzburg castle in Austria.
Instrument of Torture: Spanish Boot
"Spanish boot" is a term for a number of devices used for interrogation by the Catholic Inquisition. Had several dozen varieties. Such tools caused irreparable damage to the limb (leg, foot, knee) of the victim. The boot had many varieties and was used in different countries of Europe. The "Spanish boot" and "Malay boot" are considered classic examples of weapons. The most common "boot" was made from four pieces of narrow wooden plank nailed together. Previously, the victim's foot was measured, and the boot was selected according to its size. As soon as it was possible to find a suitable tool that would completely cover the leg, wedges were driven between the boards. The wedges created pressure, and the deeper they were hammered, the stronger it became. The torture continued until the victim confessed or lost consciousness. Later versions of the "boot" were already made of metal. In such “boots”, the foot was clamped with a metal frame and they were often heated on coals before use. Early versions of similar designs date back to the period of the first Scottish uprising (XIII century). They were rawhide boots soaked in water. They were put on the leg and secured with special cords. Then the boot was heated along the bottom edge, and the skin from which it was made, drying out, shrank. This provided enough force to dislocate or even break a leg.
Instrument of Torture: Stab Goats
The victim was seated astride this torture apparatus with weights tied to the wrists and ankles. The sharp edge of the crossbar dug into the crotch, causing unbearable pain.
Instrument of Torture: Nuremberg Maiden. Iron Maiden
On August 14, 1515, a reliable and very first description of the Nuremberg Maiden dates back. It is also mentioned that at this point the “iron maiden” had been successfully used for several months. It is said that it was on this day that the counterfeiter was sentenced to death.
The convict was placed inside the structure and the door was gradually closed. This was done so that the condemned would experience torment, and not die immediately.
Sharp and long spikes slowly pierced the whole body: in the stomach, in the limbs, in the groin, in the eyes ... In this state, the victim, screaming in pain and bleeding, was left to die, completely closing the door. The convicted counterfeiter died two days later. It is worth noting that the "iron maiden" was considered the most cruel torture. It could not even be compared with such types of execution as wheeling and quartering.
Instrument of Torture: Knee Crusher
Used to shatter joints, both knee and elbow. The teeth, in the case of prolonged use of this remedy, irrevocably destroyed the joints. In addition, numerous steel teeth, penetrating inside the body, inflicted terrible stab wounds, as a result of which the victim bled. It should be noted that the “knee crusher” crushed not only the knees, but also other parts of the body: hands, feet, ankles, etc.
Instrument of Torture: Cradle of Judas. Vigil
A naked heretic (according to representatives of the Inquisition) was shackled in a steel belt, which was fixed by a system of ropes and blocks. Then it was hung over the tip of a specially made pyramid in such a way that the anus of the victim was above the very peak of the metal monster. While the person was conscious, he was unharmed, but as soon as he closed his eyes for a second, the sharp spear of the pyramid penetrated inside and caused unbearable pain. This was the Cradle of Judas. In other words - "Vigilance". If the victim lost consciousness (and this happened quite often), then the torture was postponed for some time.
Instrument of Torture: Rack
Rack - an instrument of torture by stretching the body of the victim while tearing the joints. There were two main types of rack used in Europe and in the Russian Empire in the XIV-XVIII centuries.
As a type of punishment, it was first mentioned at the beginning of the 13th century in an agreement between Smolensk and Riga (1229), according to which, “if a Rusyn turns out to be guilty, then do not put him on the rack, but give him bail; if there is no guarantee, then put him in iron. The rack was provided for by the Pskov Judicial Charter: if “whoever gets into the court by force or hits the doorman, then put him on the rack.” From the second half of the 17th century, the word acquired the meaning of an instrument of torture. It had many varieties.