My agent, Alyssa, is currently in London. One of the many places she visited these past days was the Tower of London. For those who don’t know, the Tower of London was Torture Central back in the day. So I thought I’d share some interesting methods of torture! Perhaps my most fun Fun Fact Friday to date 🙂
- THE BRAZEN BULL – A hollow brass statue crafted to resemble a real bull. Victims were placed inside, usually with their tongues cut out first. The door was shut, sealing them in. Fires would then be lit around the bull. As the victim succumbed to the searing heat inside, he would thrash about and scream in agony. The movements and sounds, muted by the bull’s mass, made the apparatus appear alive, the sounds inside like those of a real bull. This effect created additional amusement for the audience and served the added benefit of distancing them from the brutality of the torture since they couldn’t directly see the victim.
- THE RACK – This was used throughout Europe for centuries. It came in many forms, but here’s the basic idea: The victim is tied down while some mechanical device, usually a crank or turning wheel, tightens the ropes, stretching the victim’s body until the joints are dislocated. Continued pressure could cause the limbs to be torn right off. Such torture was known as being “broken on the rack,” “racked,” or “stretched on the rack.”
- THE STAKE – Being burned at the stake was usually the last stop for torture victims, because this form of torture was invariably fatal. Conceptually, it’s a very simple process — create a pile of dry wood with a stake at the center to tie the victim to, and then light it. The fire does all the work. It usually took about a half an hour before the victim lost consciousness, but if it was windy and the fire was blowing away from the victim, he or she might have to endure up to two hours of being slowly burned to death.
- THE IRON MAIDEN – A device so fiendish it was once thought to be fictional. It’s an upright sarcophagus with spikes on the inner surfaces. Double doors open on the front, allowing entrance for the victim. In one example, eight spikes protruded from one door, 13 from the other. Once the victim was inside, the doors were closed. There, the strategically placed spikes would pierce several vital organs. However, they were relatively short spikes so the wounds wouldn’t be instantly fatal. Instead, the victim would linger and bleed to death over several hours. To add to the abject horror of it all, two spikes were positioned specifically to penetrate the eyes.
Well, that’s enough fun for one day.
Bye for now!