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... Museum of torture ...

The Museum of medieval European instruments of torture was established in the North-Eastern (octagonal) tower of the citadel in its lower tier in 2012. It is particularly 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 the Ukrainian Belgorod-Dniester region. These instruments of torture were actively used by the Inquisition.

The word “inquisition” comes from the Latin “inquisition”, which means “search, investigation”. This was the name of the Catholic ecclesiastical court, which investigated the cases of heretics, that is, found out whether a person is actually a heretic. Heretics were all those who in any way deviated from the Catholic faith, as well as engaged in witchcraft or false prophecy. In other words, the Inquisition combined the functions of both an investigative body and a court. the execution of the sentence was the prerogative of the secular authorities, although the misthought that the inquisitors burned heretics at the stake is quite common. The official use of torture was authorized in 1252. Previously, tortures were also used, starting in 1235, when Pope Gregory IX, by decrees issued between 1231 and 1235, transferred to the inquisitors the functions of prosecuting heretics.

The entrance to the museum

Вход в музей

North-East corner tower of the citadel of the Bendery fortress, which houses the museum of medieval instruments of torture

Panoramic shooting of the museum of torture

The instrument of torture - Pear. Pear tears orifices, shifts the jaw bone.

This terrible device was used to torture women who had pregnancy terminated liars, blasphemers, and people of non-traditional sexual orientation. A pear-shaped instrument was inserted into one of the victim’s orifices: the vagina of a woman, the anus of a homosexual, the mouth of a liar or blasphemer. The device consists of four petals that 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 victim’s orifices, and could dislocate or break the jawbones. Extant pears are distinguished by engraving or decorations. According to them, the executioners distinguished anal, vaginal or oral pears. This torture rarely resulted in death, and more often other methods of torture were used along with it.


The instrument of torture - Interrogation Chair

The interrogation chair was used in Central Europe. In Nuremberg and Regensburg until 1846 preliminary investigations with its use were regularly conducted. The naked prisoner was placed on a chair in such a position that at the slightest movement, thorns pierced his skin. Usually the torture lasted several hours, and the executioners often increased the pain of the agonizing victim by piercing his or her limbs, using tongs or other instruments of torture. These chairs had various shapes and sizes, but they were all equipped with spikes and means of immobilizing the victim.


The 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 victim. The prayer cross was created on the border of the XVII-XII centuries, probably in Austria. This is indicated by an entry in the book "Justice of the past", which is located in the Museum of criminology in Rothenburg, Germany. The author of the book tells about one such cross, which was located in the tower of the Salzburg castle in Austria.


The instrument of torture - Spanish Boot

“Spanish boot” is a term that combines a number of devices used for interrogations by the Catholic Inquisition. It had several dozen varieties. Such tools caused irreparable damage to the victim's limb (leg, foot, knee). The boot had many varieties and was used in different countries of Europe. The “Spanish boot” and “Malay boot” are considered to be classic examples of the tool. The most common “boot” was made from four pieces of narrow wooden plank put together. Previously, the victim's foot was measured, and the boot was selected according to its size. As soon as you could find a suitable tool that would cover the leg completely, wedges were driven between the planks. The wedges created pressure, and the deeper they were driven, the stronger it became. The torture continued until the victim confessed or lost consciousness. Later versions of the "boot" were made of metal. In such “boots”, the foot was clamped with a metal frame and before using them, they were often heated on coals. Early versions of similar tools date from the first Scottish rebellion (13th century). They were shoes made of rawhide 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, dried out and, was compressed. This provided enough force to put out or even break a leg.

 The instrument of torture - Thrusting Trestle

The victim was placed astride this torture tool with weights tied to his or her wrists and ankles. The sharp edge of the crossbar bit into the crotch, causing unbearable pain.


The instrument of torture - Nuremberg Maiden. Iron Maiden.

On August 14, 1515, a reliable and very first description of the Nuremberg Maiden is dated. It is also mentioned that at this time, the "iron maiden" has 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 person would experience torment, and not die immediately. Sharp and long spikes slowly sank into the entire 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 to be the cruelest torture. It could not even be compared to such types of execution as breaking on the wheel and quartering.


The instrument of torture - Knee-crusher

It was used for breaking to pieces of the joints, like the knee and elbow. In the case of prolonged use of this tool, the pikes irrevocably destroyed the joints. In addition, numerous steel teeth, penetrating into the body, inflicted terrible stab wounds, as a result of which the victim bled to death. It should be noted that the “knee crusher” crushed not only the knees, but also other parts of the body: hands, feet, ankles, etc.


The instrument of torture - the Judas Cradle. Vigil

The naked heretic (according to representatives of the Inquisition) was chained in a steel belt, which was fixed by a system of ropes and blocks. Then it was suspended over the tip of a specially made pyramid so that the victim's anus was above the peak of the metal monster. As long as a person was conscious, he was unharmed, but if he closed his eyes for a second – the sharp spear of the pyramid penetrated and caused unbearable pain. This was the “Judas cradle”. In another way – “Vigil”. If the victim lost consciousness (and this happened quite often), the torture was postponed for a certain period.

Metal collar with rings is an element of the Judas cradle

Block with an axe for cutting off the head and limbs

The instrument of torture - Rack

The rack is an instrument of torture by stretching the victim's body 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 in the beginning of the XIII century in the Treaty of Smolensk with Riga (1229), according to which, “if a Russian is found guilty, then he should not be put on the rack, but given on bail; if there is no bail, then put him in iron. “The rack was provided for by the Pskov court Charter: if “someone climbs into the tower by force or hits the doorman, then put him on the rack”. Since the second half of the XVII century, the word has acquired the meaning of an instrument of torture. It had a lot of varieties.

Currently, the concept of museum development is being considered.

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