Torture in the Inquisition
Torture and the Inquisition
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Medieval Inquistion
  Cathar Crusade

Technically, torture methods were outlawed in any judicial practice until 1254. Instead, the inquisitor was only allowed to threaten the defendant with torture. Presumably, this was not always the case. Torture was usually done in stages. The first stage entailed a display of the torture instruments. If this did not warrant a confession, then the second stage of torture was employed, and the torture instruments were heated in front of the accused. Finally, the accused would face the “third degree” and the heated instruments were applied to the prisoner’s flesh. The secretary would stand-by throughout the entire torture procedure to record any confession possibly made. Sometimes, the secretary would tell the accused that the inquisitor was not satisfied with their answer, and the torture would continue.

Perhaps the most common method of torture was strappado. To execute this torture method, the defendant’s hands were tied behind his or her back. After this, the inquisitors would tie a rope to the bound hands. This rope was then cast over a high beam on the ceiling. Each time the defendant failed to answer a question in a satisfactory manner, the rope would be pulled. Eventually, the defendant would be hanging from the ceiling. Because torture methods were not to cause any mutilation, bloodshed or death, this torture method was commonly used. Once the defendant was hanging from the ceiling, weights could be added to the feet to cause even more pain. This method resulted in immediate, intense pain and possible dislocation of the arms. Long-term effects included nerve and ligament damage. Sometimes, the individual suffered from brachial plexus injury which could lead to paralysis or loss of sensation in the arms.

Torture methods were only to be used once. If the accused died from a torture method, the inquisitors took this as failure, because this became a soul that they could not save.


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