Nursery Rhymes

The Rack Torture

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

The Rack
The Medieval period of the Middle Ages was violent, and blood thirsty. In these barbarous times the cruel and pitiless torturers were induced to inflict the horrors of tortures, including the Rack, on prisoners by Stretching and Dislocation. Torture methods, devices and instruments were used to inflict the deliberate, systematic, cruel and wanton infliction of physical and mental suffering.

There were no laws or rules to protect the treatment of prisoners who faced torture, such as the Rack by Stretching and Dislocation. Torture was seen as a totally legitimate means for justice to extract confessions, obtain the names of accomplices, obtain testimonies or confessions.

Method of inflicting torture on the Rack
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. In England torture by Stretching and Dislocation using a machine called the Rack was practised. Various methods of inflicting intense pain by stretching dated back to the Greeks.

The rack was a machine consisting of a rectangular wooden frame. The wooden frame had a roller at each end. The victim's feet were manacled to one roller, and the wrists were manacled to the other. A handle and ratchet were attached to the top roller and were turned very gradually stepwise to increase the tension on the chains. The victim was tied across a board by his ankles and wrists. The rollers at either end of the board were turned, pulling the body in opposite directions. The victims body was initially stretched. Limbs would be dislocated and prolonged use would end with limbs being torn from their sockets  inducing excruciating pain.

Middle Ages Torture
Middle Ages Index

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