Torture was enthusiastically applied by early Church officials for three reasons:
To force confessions or secret information from those accused of heresy or witchcraft, whether guilty or innocent;
To discourage dissent and intellectual freedom; and
To persuade Jews, Muslims, and other non-believers to accept Christianity.
Scroll down to read about some of the fiendishly ingenious instruments and techniques by which innocent victims were s-l-o-w-l-y tortured in the name of the sweet and gentle savior, Jesus Christ. You will see that great effort went into refining the art of torture, taxing the limits of medieval technology and medical knowledge to inflict agony on the human body. Since the purpose of torture is to cause savage pain without killing, especial attention was devoted to torturing the feet, the parts remotest from the brain and vital organs. I apologize for injecting any humor into the text, but the subject really is rather dreadful.
Toenails were slowly pried out by means of wooden wedges driven into the sensitive quick. German witch hunters were more creative, using sharpened wooden skewers tipped with boiling sulfur to stimulate the toes while tearing out fingernails with red-hot iron pincers.
After the victim's mouth was forced open, his tongue was slowly sliced into shreds by the serrated iron blades of this TONGUE SLICER. And you thought that Thai food made your tongue sting!
This bench held the victim immobile while all the skin was slowly torn from his body with a scalpel-like instrument. Salt was rubbed into the raw flesh to make for a spicier experience.
The favorite torture of the Spanish Inquisition was TORTURE BY FIRE. The victim was bound to a bench and his bare feet were immobilized in a wooden stocks. The soles of the feet (the most heat-sensitive skin in the human body) were smeared with lard and broiled over red-hot coals until the flesh was charred from the bones. A fresh coat of lard was frequently reapplied to make sure the feet baked nice and slowly.
This COPPER BOOT was fitted over the naked foot and slowly filled with boiling oil or molten lead. Alternatively, the boot could be filled with cool water and then heated over a fire. The victim had to supply his own tea bag.
The LEAD SPRINKLER doused the victim's body with a shower of molten metal drops.
In the WATER TORTURE, the victim's nostrils were pinched shut and eight quarts of fluid were poured down his throat through a funnel. Instead of water, the torture was sometimes conducted with vinegar, or even with urine mixed with diarrhea, which was always in plentiful supply in medieval dungeons.
These toothed iron bars slowly squeezed the victim's testicles until they were destroyed.
The compact THUMBSCREW slowly squeezed the thumb between its toothed iron bars until the bones were crushed to a bloody pulp. Obviously, the device could also be used to crush the big toe.
The VENETIAN FOOT BREAKER consisted of ribbed iron plates tightened around the bare foot by means of screws to crush the bones of the instep. The French BRODEQUIN crushed feet between a pair of upright wooden boards, with wooden pegs fitted between the toes to inflict agonizing pressure on the tiny bones as the toes were squeezed together. Offhand, I think my flip-flops would be more comfortable than either one.
Wedges were hammered into this SCOTTISH BOOT after it was clamped in place, crushing the bones of the calf. One common variant was a wet rawhide boot that was molded over the leg, bound in place by strong cords, and dried over a fire to contract the rawhides and squeeze the leg.
This IRON SPIDER was heated red-hot and used to tear off the breasts of female victims.
The spiked jaws of this iron MOUTH PEAR were opened inside the victim's mouth to muffle his screams during torture. There were also rectal and vaginal pears.
The TABLILLAS were a pair of five-holed wooden pillories that immobilized the toes as the victim was bound to the rack, stretched taut to keep his toes stiff and pointed. Each time the victim refused to confess, a swift blow from a mallet drove a sharpened wooden wedge head-on into the tip of one of the toes, crushing the tiny bones to a pulp.
The RACK was a bed with rollers at either end that held the victim's wrists and ankles and were turned in opposite directions to tear the limbs from their sockets. Sometimes, a spiked drum was installed, and the face-downward victim was dragged across it to rip his guts open.
The INSTEP BORER was an iron boot, the crank of which concealed a six-inch, razor-sharp iron spike that was plunged through the center of the foot.
This tubular iron CROCODILE SHEARS was heated red-hot and used to tear off the penis. Playful means were used to ensure the victim had a nice, stiff erection before the torture was employed.
Bound naked and face-outward to the rim of this spiked iron WHEEL, the prisoner was dragged past spikes set in the base until his body was torn to pieces. A fire was sometimes lit on the base, over which the prisoner's face, genitals, or feet were permitted to roast at length.
This method of interrogation was used in Central Europe. A naked prisoner is seated on the chair in such a position that at the slightest movement pins are stick in his skin. Usually torture lasted for several hours. These chairs have different shapes and sizes, but they were all equipped with spines and immobilization of the victim.