Alex SchmidtEnglish23-28aTorture is the use of physical or mental pain used to use to punish a person. During the Elizabethan age stretching, burning, beating, and suffocating were not uncommon. The purpose of torture was to break down a person, to a certain extent, make the person feel inhuman.Torture had been used long before the Elizabethans.
China had used many forms of torture. In fact some of the torture methods were taken from the Chinese. The Chinese had a torture where a man would be dipped into cold water, then hot water and then back to cold. The idea was to make the mans heart rapidly speed up and then come to a sudden halt. Eventually the mans heart would explode. The English would torture women by sitting then on top of a chair tied to a pole. The women would then be dunked in over and over into a barrel of boiling water until she was dead.
Women endured many more painful tortures than men did. Men usually were immediately killed in an almost painless fashion. Women who gossiped were tortured by a brank which was placed on their heads and attached the their tongues.
With sharp spikes attached to the tongue, any gossip from the woman would result in a stab through the tongue; it would only take about four stabs until the tongue would fall out of the mouth. Another mouth device was an amputation saw. Like the brank, but this cut much slower and didnt leave as clean of a cut.
It was during the times of the Tudors that the use of torture reached its height in England. Under the rule of Henry VIII torture was frequently used. When Edward and Mary were ruling torture wasnt used as much. But when Elizabeth had taken over the throne, if a women decided to poison her husband, she was burned alive. Not only would they be killed crowds of over 100 would gather to watch a person burn.
Torture could also have been humiliation. The idea of visiting with peers and having a mark on your forehead or a missing limbs. All sign which symbolize that one has done something wrong. For example if a women committed perjury than the letter P would be burned onto theyre foreheads. Forced to show the letter until the day they die.Some minor ways of torture were pillory, the stocks, the finger pillory, and the ranks. The pillory was one form that was used more often.
It could be seen on the town market. Authors who wrote against the states interest were sometimes punished by having their work burned before them, or sometimes their ears would be torn of and nailed to the pillory so al could see the consequence. And to a lower extent, second offender authors would have their fingers cut off.Another form of pillory was the feet.
The feet would be put through a device with holes, which the toes were forced. The toes would then be crushed with a hammer. Though not an emotional pain, an excruciating physical pain.
A finger pillory worked somewhat like the foot pillory. The difference is a finger pillory was a block of wood, bent at the middle joint, so as to be very painful if left in for any length of time. Finger pillories could also be known as stalks and were usually used on the upper class if there were misbehaving during social gatherings.When the accused refused to admit to a crime, he or she was put to death by placing a giant weight on their stomach; this would crush the lung causing the person to suffocate. This was used to gain information; guilty of no the person would always die.
A form common to the one above was spikes would be placed all around a criminal. The criminal would then be forced to hold heavy weights. The crook would eventually fall over onto the spikes and die.
The person could go for days without falling. What would happen is the person either gets to tired, or is to weak to the lack of food.In the days before Henry the VIII torture as used more for justice than viewing pleasure. You get a sense that towards the Elizabethan age that torture was used only to please a crowd than to seek out criminals. Perhaps the idea of inhumane methods of death intrigued the English so much that they thrived on it. But today there is no difference.
I think its more inhumane. The only difference between death today and in the old times is that we use modern technology now. Im sure that if the idea of electric shock had been around to the Elizabethans, they would have done it in a second.