Nature of Punishment in the Medieval Period

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Medieval Punishment Torture, pain, and death; they are three simple words that describe the nature of punishment under most Middle Age law codes. This paper will go over a few of the methods that were used on people to get confessions or to punish them for crimes that would seem rather insignificant today and then focus on the humanitarian response which evolved into the modern penal code. The definition of torture is "infliction of severe physical pain on somebody, e.g. as punishment or to persuade somebody to confess or recant something." (bing.com/Dictionary) Torture was not a means of proof, but rather of obtaining a confession that could stand in court. If the court decided that a confession could be obtained, then the accused was given religious encouragement to confess. This was followed by a display of the instruments of torture in order to encourage confession. Not only were these methods creative, but they were generally effective as well. Numerous devices were created to not only prolong the sessions of torture but to be as scary as possible. A few of the devices are called The Pear of Anguish, The Iron Maiden, and Thumbscrews just to name a few. Perhaps the most commonly know device is called The Rack. Victims of The Rack were often tied down while a wheel or crank or other type of mechanical device would turn and tighten the ropes. Such actions would more often than not cause dislocations in joints. If the device was cranked even more, then eventually, it
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