Grim History: Torture Devices

So skimming through ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ this morning, I thought to myself about all of the grim torture equipment out there; I’m referring to the ones that aren’t for exercising, of course. Man’s greatest enemy has always been himself, as I’m sure you all know. Anyway, here’s a few that really give me some serious goose bumps…

 

Thumbscrew

I first read about this little sucker in 5th grade. I recall the book describing it as a method of torturing slaves, or extracting information. Let’s be honest…those are usually the only two reasons beyond pure sadism, when it comes to torture…no matter the device. The idea behind a thumbscrew is pretty much self-explanatory. The thumbs are forcibly inserted between the bars…then the screw on top is slowly twisted, applying pressure to the digits, and ultimately cracking them. Not unlike pecans. Maybe it isn’t going to kill you, beyond the likely development of gangrene, but the pain could only be excruciating. What’s more, there’s really no recovering from pancake thumbs. If this isn’t bad enough, picture the pilliwinks…which really did look like nutcrackers. Those? Those were applied to ALL of the fingers.

 

Punishing Shoes

Moving on, let’s talk about footwear. Have you ever heard the story of the 12 dancing princesses? They go to bed every evening and wake up to find their dancing shoes destroyed. There’s more to it, of course, but I think if their father had simply given them a pair of these babies: punishing shoes. If you heard horses screaming in terror after reading that, you’re either watching Young Frankenstein, or you know just how these were used. They’ve got spikes inside the heel portion, and you’d have to stand in place wearing them, usually with something really heavy on your head. Maybe a matching hat…either you become the world’s greatest ballet dancer in the process, or you end up crippled for life. Now doesn’t that sound fun?

 

wooden horse

Sometimes when I’m having trouble sleeping, I’m haunted by two thoughts: a knife coming up through my mattress and impaling me for no reason, and riding an infinitely long metal slide that slowly narrows until it’s just a razor blade. This is that second vision made as real as it could be, and this is also why I wear pants to bed. It’s called the ‘Wooden Horse’ or ‘The Spanish Donkey’, oddly enough, and if they were mixed drinks I think I might take a pass.

 

Now that I’ve thoroughly spoiled your holiday season, or at least made you question buying a rocking horse for your niece this year…I think I’m going to just look at pictures of cute kittens to floss my brain.

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