World History

What was the pear of anguish?
Answered by Science Channel
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  1. Let's face it, the Middle Ages were just no fun at all, especially if you were scheduled to be tortured. Designers of torture implements really seemed to put some thought and effort into it, and many castles of the time had torture chambers equipped with the latest fashionable instruments of cruelty. One such implement was the "pear of anguish," which had the shape of a pear, the wide bottom of which responsible for the damage. The pear shape was able to separate into four individual "leaves" that grew wider apart from each other as the tormenter turned the screw-like top. Depending on what the victim had been convicted of, the pear of anguish was placed inside a particular one of the victim's orifices. Damage to the victim's insides was caused once the top of the device was turned and the pear leaves got farther apart. How much torment the victim received was up to the torturer. Women who'd miscarried a child, those guilty of blasphemy, liars and homosexuals were its typical victims [source: Mediavality].

    The pear of anguish was just one of a number of creative ways in which people were tortured during the Middle Ages. Take, for example, that most helpful of inventions, the wheel. Normally a great benefit to mankind, a wheel in the hands of a torturer became a truly gruesome contraption. One particularly nasty approach was to tie a victim to a large wheel and then push it down a hill. Another, more sophisticated application of the wheel consisted of using one that could be swung around: The victim was bound to the wheel and subsequently swung across either fire or spikes that were situated below. (A thoughtful variation was to have spikes screwed into the wheel itself.) The use of a wheel to simulate the sensation of being crucified was yet another, especially barbarous technique.

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