CHAIRS OF TORTURE
In the information herein, you will read about various chair's of torture..... it amazes me (still) the depths of what human beings have done to human beings.
Please take a moment to reflect, as you read the text below, the people who endured these practices until their inevitable demise.
Also consider the torturer.....
he person (males were employed) who actually stood in front of the person condemned, proceeded to strip them of clothing and started to inflict the tortures below.
Takes a certain sort of human being ...... I would think.
Of course some people deserved their punishment! (as some still do if only we could) but some who lived the tortures below, were entirely innocent.
~ Let us Begin ~
THE WITCHES CHAIR
Slightly different from the famous Torture chair,
The witches Chair was an 18th century torture method. Victim’s wrists were tied to the chair. Bars would be pushed so the spikes would penetrate through their skin. In some versions, there were holes under the chair’s bottom where the torturer placed coal to cause severe burns while the victim still remained conscious.
In other versions there were weights that would be placed on the victims thighs or feet. In a special version there were spikes on the head rest and the executioner pushed his head against it. It was used so people would confess. If they didn’t the blood loss they suffered would be the cause of death.
THE TORTURE CHAIR
The Iron Chair is a torture device that has several different variations depending on its origin and use throughout history. It also has many names - the Chinese torture chair, the torture chair, and the Iron Chair. In all cases, the victim was seated on several strips or plates of brass and placed over an open flame and slowly roasted alive. In other variations, the "culprits" were tied to an iron armchair and then slowly pushed nearer and nearer to a blazing fire." Another version of this chair was even more diabolical due to the addition of hundreds of sharp spikes which lined the back, seat, armrests and leg rests. The number of spikes ranged from 500 to 1,500.
The iron chair originated from Europe’s middle ages, though it was used around the world in different variations as well.
The Iron chair was a torture device that was added to dungeons in the middle ages. It experienced its prime in popularity in Europe. The iron chair has many different variations depending on its location but they all consisted of 500-1500 spikes covering the whole chair with a hole on the seat for fire and coal to be placed under. “It was common to have a victim strapped to the chair watch the torture of another victim” (Albanese). It was mostly used in a psychological way to coerce confessions out of people by watching other people suffer, “"But although it would bring about a very slow and painful death, it was probably used more symbolically. With this thing in front of you, the chances are that you would comply with your captor pretty quickly” (Moscoso). Although the iron chair was also used as punishment. Crimes that are punishable by the iron chair include adultery, witchcraft, murder, etc. It had many other names too, including the Chinese Torture Chair, Torture Chair, Chair of Torture, and Judas Chair. This instrument was used until the late 1800’s in Europe.
Another variation of the iron chair was called the Chinese torture chair because it was a very common torture technique in China. Though the Chinese torture chair is slightly different it was used in the same psychological way as Europe’s version. The Chinese torture chair was used in from 1701 to the 1900’s in China and was “...made from wood with 12 steel blades in the arm, back and foot rests and seat” (Science Museum, London)
This device was used on convicted people or suspects because it instilled fear in a person. It was used to extract confessions from people by watching another get tortured, “ It was common to have a victim strapped to the chair watch the torture of another victim” (Albanese). If that failed, the person them self had to suffer from it as well. The iron chair “...lies primarily in the psychological fear caused on the victim” (Medievality). The iron chair was especially unique because it relied on the psychological effects rather than physical, unlike many other torture instruments. Physically, this instrument punctures the skin while the person is tied down tightly onto the chair. If they do not cooperate, the person gets tied down tighter, digging the spikes deeper into their flesh.The large hole at the bottom of the seat was made to put coal and fire under to burn the victims lower body parts and slowly roast them alive. This torture technique didn’t cause death itself, it was usually followed with an infection after the person was released. Death was far from instant with the iron chair “This could go on for hours, sometimes days. The spikes did not penetrate vital organs and blood loss was minimized — at least until the person was released from the chair” (Dvorsky)
The image above is the Chinese variant of A wooden torture chair used for the purpose of interrogating enemies of the Qing dynasty. Thought to have been made in the early part of the 18th century, it boasts twelve sharp steel blades located in the arm, back and foot rests, and the seat .
The Judas Cradle, also known as the Judas chair and The Guided Cradle, was a tall stool shaped torture device with a metal or wooden pyramid on top allegedly used by the Spanish Inquisition. In Italian it is the culla di Giuda ("Cradle of Judas"), in German the Judaswiege ("Judas Cradle"), and in French the la veille—"the wake" or "nightwatch" (because when certain muscles are contracted, the victim could not fall asleep).
The victim would be stripped, bound with ropes, and suspended above the device. They would then be lowered, usually very slowly, on to the device, making the pyramid enter the vagina, anus or scrotum. The amount of pain the device inflicted could be changed in several ways. The victim could be rocked, they could be dropped repeatedly onto the device, one leg could be lifted, olive oil could be spread on the pyramid, or brass weights could be hung from the victim's legs to slowly impale them. Sometimes to prolong torture the victim would be suspended above the device over night, and torture would continue the next morning. The device was rarely, if ever, cleaned. If victims did not die from the device, they almost always died from infection. Torture with the Judas Cradle could last several hours to several days. Apart from the agonising pain one suffered, the humiliation was the primary attraction for this method of torture. Whenever the victim fainted from the pain, the torturer would lift the victim until the tortured person was "awake" again to commence with the process.
A similar device, known as a horse, is sometimes said to have been used in Prussia to discipline soldiers, and during the American Civil War by Union guards in Camp Douglas against their Confederate prisoners to extract information. This device was not designed to break the skin but instead cause damage to the genitals.
A wooden horse, Spanish donkey or cavaletto squarciapalle, is a torture device, of which there exist two variations; both inflict pain by using the subject's own weight by keeping the legs open, tied with ropes from above, while lowering down the subject. The French called this instrument the Chevalet, from the French diminutive of cheval, horse.
The first variation of the wooden horse is a triangular device with one end of the triangle pointing upward, mounted on a saw-horse like support. The victim is made to straddle the triangular "horse." Weights or additional restraints were often added to keep the victim from falling off. A punishment similar to this called "riding the rail" was used during the American colonial period and later. The victim was often carried through town in this predicament, often in conjunction with the punishment of tarring and feathering. The crotch can be injured and the victim could be left unable to walk without pain.
While the device was designed for women, there are accounts of male victims as well. The Jesuit Relations say that in 1646, a man "was sentenced to make reparation, by the Civil authority, and to mount the Chevalet," and "a public blasphemer, was put on the Chevalet. He acknowledged his fault, saying that he had well deserved punishment, and came of his own accord to confess, that evening or the next day," and that another man "acted at the fort as such a glutton, that he was put on the Chevalet, on which he was ruptured."
The device was used during the American Civil War by Union guards against their Confederate prisoners:
There were some of our poor boys, for little infraction of the prison rules, riding what they called Morgan's mule every day. That was one mule that did the worst standing stock still. He was built after the pattern of those used by carpenters. He was about fifteen feet high; the legs were nailed to the scantling so one of the sharp edges was turned up, which made it very painful and uncomfortable to the poor fellow especially when he had to be ridden bareback, sometimes with heavy weights fastened to his feet and sometimes with a large beef bone in each hand. This performance was carried on under the eyes of a guard with a loaded gun, and was kept up for several days; each ride lasting two hours each day unless the fellow fainted and fell off from pain and exhaustion. Very few were able to walk after this hellish Yankee torture but had to be supported to their barracks.
- Milton Asbury Ryan, Co. G, 8th MS Regiment
In BDSM play the wooden horse is used as a sexual torture device primarily or exclusively on women. Another version often dubbed the wooden pony is made of a single wooden plank supported horizontally from the floor on its side with the thin edge up. This version may have been invented because it is easier to make and more readily available than a triangular shape. The edges may be filed to a blunt point or rounded off to create a less immediately painful variation, or a thinner plank used to provide extra pressure and pain.
Both versions may be supported with legs or suspended from the ceiling. The victim is usually made to straddle it with her legs suspended in the air, either hanging freely or bent backwards. Her arms may be tied behind her back to prevent her from gaining any relief. They may also be pulled up behind her back in a strappado which itself acts as another form of torture while still preventing any leverage from being applied to gain relief. If the person is not required to support herself as an extra torture, rope tied around her chest, neck or hair may provide stabilisation without supporting her weight. Weights may be tied to her legs to cause more pain and discomfort or to provide stabilisation where rope isn't used.
In both versions the device is unobstructive enough to allow most other tortures to be applied at the same time including leaving a large enough area of the buttocks open for spanking, caning and whipping. The edge of the device may be positioned between the slit of her labia to ensure clitoral stimulation from straddling it. In extreme and more dangerous scenarios the sides are roughened or fitted with spikes. In a predicament scenario the device may be raised or lowered in order to make the person stand on her tiptoes or rest her body weight on her genitals on the device.
Cucking stools or ducking stools were chairs formerly used for punishment of disorderly women, scolds, and dishonest tradesmen in England, Scotland, and elsewhere. The cucking-stool was a form of wyuen pine ("women's punishment") as referred to in Langland's Piers Plowman (1378). They were both instruments of public humiliation and censure primarily for the offense of scolding or back biting and less often for sexual offences like bearing an illegitimate child or prostitution.
The stools were technical devices which formed part of the wider method of law enforcement through social humiliation. A common alternative was a court order to recite one’s crimes or sins after Mass or in the market place on market day or informal action such as a Skimmington ride.
They were usually of local manufacture with no standard design. Most were simply chairs into which the offender could be tied and exposed at her door or the site of her offence. Some were on wheels like a tumbrel that could be dragged around the parish. Some were put on poles so that they could be plunged into water, hence "ducking" stool. Stocks or pillories were similarly used for punishment of men or women by humiliation.
The term "cucking-stool" is older, with written records dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Written records for the name "ducking stool" appear from 1597, and a statement in 1769 relates that "ducking-stool" is a corruption of the term "cucking-stool". Whereas a cucking-stool could be and was used for humiliation with or without ducking the person in water, the name "ducking-stool" came to be used more specifically for those cucking-stools on an oscillating plank which were used to duck the person into water.
A ballad, dating from about 1615, called "The Cucking of a Scold", illustrates the punishment inflicted to women whose behaviour made them be identified as "a Scold":
Then was the Scold herself,
In a wheelbarrow brought,
Stripped naked to the smock,
As in that case she ought:
Neats tongues about her neck
Were hung in open show;
And thus unto the cucking stool
This famous scold did go
The cucking-stool, or Stool of Repentance, has a long history, and was used by the Saxons, who called it the scealding or scolding stool. It is mentioned in Domesday Book as being in use at Chester, being called cathedra stercoris, a name which seems to confirm the first of the derivations suggested in the footnote below. Tied to this stool the woman—her head and feet bare—was publicly exposed at her door or paraded through the streets amidst the jeers of the crowd.
The term cucking-stool is known to have been in use from about 1215. It means literally "defecation chair", as its name is derived from the old verb cukken which means "to defecate" (akin to Dutch kakken and Latin cacāre [same meaning]; cf. Greek κακός/κακή ["bad/evil, vile, ugly, worthless"]), rather than, as popularly believed, from the word cuckold.
Both seem to have become more common in the second half of the sixteenth century. It has been suggested this reflected developing strains in gender relations, but it may simply be a result of the differential survival of records. The cucking-stool appears to have still been in use as late as the mid-18th century, with Poor Robin's Almanack of 1746 observing:
Now, if one cucking-stool was for each scold,
Some towns, I fear, would not their numbers hold
The ducking-stool was a strongly made wooden armchair (the surviving specimens are of oak) in which the offender was seated, an iron band being placed around her so that she should not fall out during her immersion. The earliest record of the use of such is towards the beginning of the 17th century, with the term being first attested in English in 1597. It was used both in Europe and in the English colonies of North America.
Usually the chair was fastened to a long wooden beam fixed as a seesaw on the edge of a pond or river. Sometimes, however, the ducking-stool was not a fixture but was mounted on a pair of wooden wheels so that it could be wheeled through the streets, and at the river-edge was hung by a chain from the end of a beam. In sentencing a woman the magistrates ordered the number of duckings she should have. Yet another type of ducking-stool was called a tumbrel. It was a chair on two wheels with two long shafts fixed to the axles. This was pushed into the pond and then the shafts released, thus tipping the chair up backwards. Sometimes the punishment proved fatal and the victim died.
Tumbrels* A tumbrel, or tumbril (F tombereau) was a tipcart—usually used for carrying dung, sand, stones, and so forth—which transported condemned prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution.
Use in identifying witches
It is a common misunderstanding that 'witches' were ducked in order to identify them. Ducking was predominantly used for women that scolded their husbands or were charged with sexual offences. Instead, 'witches' were swam. In this instance the victim's right thumb was bound to her left big toe. A rope was attached to her waist and the "witch" was thrown into a river or deep pond. If the "witch" floated it was deemed that she was in league with the devil, rejecting the "baptismal water". If the "witch" sank she was retrieved before drowning and deemed innocent.
A complete ducking stool is on public display in Leominster Priory, Herefordshire. The town clock, commissioned for the Millennium, features a moving ducking stool depiction.
Christchurch, Dorset continues to house a replica ducking stool, at the site where punishments were once carried out.
The tumbril of a ducking stool is in the crypt of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick. There is also a ducking chair in Canterbury, where the High Street meets the River Stour.
A surviving ducking stool is on public display outside the Criminal Museum (Kriminalmuseum) in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval town in Bavaria, Germany.
There is a reference from about 1378 to a cucking stool as wyuen pine ("women's punishment") in Langland's Piers Plowman, B.V.29.
A type of cucking stool can be seen briefly in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).
In the Laurel & Hardy feature film Babes in Toyland, Laurel & Hardy are sentenced to the ducking stool, followed by banishment to Boogeyland, for burglarizing Barnaby's house.
The last recorded cases are those of a Mrs. Ganble at Plymouth (1808); Jenny Pipes, a "notorious scold" (1809), and Sarah Leeke (1817), both of Leominster. In the last case, the water in the pond was so low that the offender was merely wheeled round the town in the chair.
The common law offence of common scold was extant in New Jersey until struck down in 1972 by Circuit Judge McCann who found it had been subsumed in the provisions of the Disorderly Conduct Act of 1898, was bad for vagueness and offended the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution for sex discrimination. Long before this decision, the punishment of ducking, together with all other forms of corporal punishment, had become unlawful under the provisions of the New Jersey Constitution of 1844 or even as early as 1776.
Ordeal by water was associated with the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries: an accused who sank was considered innocent, while floating indicated witchcraft. Some argued that witches floated because they had renounced baptism when entering the Devil's service. King James VI of Scotland (later also James I of England) claimed in his Daemonologie that water was so pure an element that it repelled the guilty.
The idea itself went back to classical times. Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, Bk. VII (ca AD 70), translator Philemon Holland, says: Hee <Philarchus> reporteth besides of these kind of men <sc. witches>, that they will never sink or drown in the water, be they charged never somuch with weightie & heavie apparel.
as punishment for scolds
Francois Maximilian Misson, a French traveller and writer, recorded the method used in England in the early 18th century:
The way of punishing scolding women is pleasant enough. They fasten an armchair to the end of two beams twelve or fifteen feet long, and parallel to each other, so that these two pieces of wood with their two ends embrace the chair, which hangs between them by a sort of axle, by which means it plays freely, and always remains in the natural horizontal position in which a chair should be, that a person may sit conveniently in it, whether you raise it or let it down. They set up a post on the bank of a pond or river, and over this post they lay, almost in equilibrio, the two pieces of wood, at one end of which the chair hangs just over the water. They place the woman in this chair and so plunge her into the water as often as the sentence directs, in order to cool her immoderate heat.
The dunking stool, rather than being fixed in position by the river or pond, could be mounted on wheels to allow the convicted woman to be paraded through the streets before punishment was carried out. Another method of dunking was to use the tumbrel, which consisted of a chair on two wheels with two long shafts fixed to the axles. This would be pushed into the dunking pond and the shafts would be released, tipping the chair up backwards and dunking the occupant.
In 2004, a soldier from the Singapore Guards died from a dunking incident during a Combat Survival Training course.
In its 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. Department of State formally recognises "submersion of the head in water" as torture in its examination of Tunisia's poor human rights record.