Torture Instruments from Medieval Times - HEAD CRUSHERS, THE RACK AND WATER TORTURE

One of the famous instruments of torture, in England, was the rack at the Tower of London. We read this description, of the Tower’s rack, at East of England Broadband Network’s E2BN Gallery:

"Probably the most infamous and most widely used instrument of torture, the rack dates back to the ancient Greeks. There are few records of its use before the Middle Ages but, during the Spanish Inquisition from the middle of the 13th century onwards, there was an increase in its use. At the Tower of London the rack was sometimes claimed as the invention of the Duke of Exeter, a 15th-century Constable of the Tower.

"During the religious ferment that gripped England in the 16th-century, the rack was used freely not only by the Catholic Queen Mary, but by those monarchs who had broken with Rome - Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I. It continued in use until Stuart times when it was used on Guy Fawkes and his accomplices. Some people did stay silent when tortured but not many." Image by Diane Earl.


With the accused's chin on the lower bar of a head crusher, and the "cap" over the victim's head, authorities forced such an instrument down as the screw was turned.  It takes very little imagination to figure out what happened next.

The rack, made popular in movies and television shows, pulled a victim's body in opposite directions.  Water torture, on the other hand, was used to simulate drowning, producing an extremely difficult death.

Sometimes these preliminary methods of torture resulted in death, thereby ending the suffering of the accused.  Other times death came much more slowly - as when prisoners were locked in a "hanging cage."

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Jun 03, 2019

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"HEAD CRUSHERS, THE RACK AND WATER TORTURE" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2000. Jan 20, 2020.
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