There were no laws or rules to protect the treatment of prisoners who faced torture, such as the Boot Torture. Torture was seen as a totally legitimate means for justice to extract confessions, obtain the names of accomplices, obtain testimonies or confessions.
Methods of inflicting the Boot Tortures
Different types of torture were used depending on the victim's crime and social status. There were also different tortures used according to the customs of each country. Various tortures were invented to inflict excruciating pain on the feet. The advantage of these types of torture was that the victim rarely died. The Spanish boot were high boots made of spongy leather had been placed on the culprit's feet, he was tied on to a table near a large fire, and a quantity of boiling water was poured on the boots, which penetrated the leather, ate away the flesh, and even dissolved the bones of the victim.
There were several types of the foot press. The foot press consisted of a pair of horizontal iron plates which tightened around the foot by means of a crank mechanism in order to lacerate the flesh and crush the bones of the foot. Variations were added including the addition of hundreds of sharp spikes to the plates and horrifically a crank mechanism was connected to a drill, so that when the instrument was tightened around the foot a hole was drilled in the center of the instep.
Foot roasting was also a method commonly used. The soles of the feet were smeared with lard and slowly roasted over red-hot coals. A bellows was used to control the intensity of the heat and a screen could be interposed between the feet and the coals as the victim was questioned. If the questions were not answered satisfactorily, the screen was withdrawn and the naked soles were again exposed to the flames. Foot roasting was inflicted during the persecution of the Knights Templar. Their leader, Jacques de Molay was burnt until his feet were charred to the bone resulting in his foot bones ( metatarsals ) falling to the floor.