During the Middle Ages, torture was considered a legitimate way to extract confessions, punish offenders, and perform executions. Some methods were considerably crueler than others — these 10 being among the most barbaric and brutal. Europe's Medieval period lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. During this time, torture was often used to extract confessions, or obtain the names of accomplices or other information about crimes.
Torture in the Tower of London
Most of today's penal codes are guided by the idea of "letting the punishment fit the crime" — but when it came time to dole out punishments for crimes in medieval Europe , the philosophy was a bit closer to "let the punishment appear to have been made up out of thin air. But despite how deranged most of these punishments sound now, they actually made some sense in context. Though most medieval punishments now look simply like torture used to extract confessions, at the time, people truly believed that pain could be used to determine a person's guilt or innocence. Evidence was considered secondary to how they fared with the ordeal: if they survived, they were considered innocent, because God was clearly on their side. Medieval citizens also had a lot of respect for people who endured heinous pain: their calendars were crowded with feast days celebrating the deaths of saints — many of whom were martyred for their faith in truly painful and hideous ways. And furthermore, they believed that brief humiliation was a powerful deterrent against future crimes — more powerful than, say, long-term imprisonment.
Top 10 Gruesome Medieval Torture Devices
Jamie Frater. Torture: it is an ancient practice that still goes on today. In the middle ages torture was used for punishment, interrogation, and deterrence. It is easy to consider ourselves more humane these days, but while some of the devices listed here would lead to death, we have, in modern times, mastered the ability of inflicting extreme pain for indefinite periods of time — something which is, perhaps, worse.
Torture, as far as crime and punishment are concerned, is the employment of physical or mental pain and suffering to extract information or, in most cases, a confession from a person accused of a crime. While torture seems barbaric, it was used during the Golden Age , what many consider to be that time in history when Elizabeth I sat on the throne and England enjoyed a peaceful and progressive period, and is still used in some cultures today. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the most common means of Elizabethan era torture included stretching, burning, beating, and drowning or at least suffocating the person with water. Torture succeeded in breaking the will of and dehumanizing the prisoner, and justice during the Elizabethan era was served with the aid of this practice. During the Elizabethan era , treason was considered as the worst crime a person could ever commit.