Elizabethan Torture Essay

This essay has a total of 799 words and 4 pages.

Elizabethan Torture

Alex Schmidt

Torture 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

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 didn’t 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 wasn’t 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 they’re 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 state’s 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.

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