World History

What torture tool did Queen Elizabeth I use against Protestants?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. It wasn't easy being a Protestant in England in Queen Elizabeth I's day. She used on Protestants whom she considered treasonous a torture tool called the "scavenger's daughter." (An Englishman by the name of Skevington invented the tool, which also went by the name of "Skeffington's gyves.") The device was deviously simple in its construction, and its goal was in essence the reverse of the rack. Whereas the rack pulled its victims, the scavenger's daughter brought about its pain through compressing the body. It was made up of an iron hoop that contained a hinge in the middle. The sensation a victim felt once placed in this mechanism, in a roughly fetal position, was akin to being placed inside a set of steel jaws that progressively closed.

    Punishment for Protestants was not confined to the scavenger's daughter, however -- English Protestants had already faced persecution before its use. After all, just prior to Elizabeth I's reign, Queen Mary I had ruled England for five bloody years (the term "Bloody Mary" is a reference to this period). She wanted to bring England back to the Catholic Church, following Henry VIII's break from it, and she reinstated old laws prohibiting heresy against the Church. Mary I wasted no time seeing that those laws were put to use:  During her reign, more than 300 people were burned at the stake on charges of heresy [source: Kings College].

    The torture method of burning someone at the stake was even more painfully simple than was the scavenger's daughter. It consisted of gathering wood, placing a stake in the middle of the pile, binding the victim to it and then setting the pile on fire. Usually, people burned at the stake had already been tortured via some other method. The stake was the end of the line. Use of the stake, unlike other medieval torture practices that had been abandoned at some point, continued to be used throughout the 17th century.

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