Italian Medieval Torture at San Leo
Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta
I recently had the pleasure of visiting San Leo which has a brilliant collection of medieval torture instruments in the castle. I have a rather gruesome interest in torture (I blame my mother and then my sister; both of who take the utmost delight in applying that to poor old innocent victim- me!). Anyway, there is not a good tourist or overview of this place (the torture museum and the dungeon) so I thought of writing a photo essay on this!
1. Castle San Leo
But first some shots of the castle itself: It is up on a cliff and looks brilliantly. (Pictures taken by my son!)
Its the tiny angular structure on the top left.
another distant view of the castle
Back end of the cliff
The edge of the cliff.
The village of San Leo on the left, the castle on the top and you can see the road on the bottom (Picture taken by one of Luca's guests from the USA, sorry, forgot the name, but will put in as soon as I get it)
Here's the road itself, clinging to the side of the cliff.
2. Inside the Castle
The high walls of the castle.
2 kids entering the castle!
top view of the road into San Leo!
Looking back over to the Village Villarosa
North East View of the countryside
West view of the countryside, you can see the village at the bottom just behind the trees in the foreground.
View of the north, you can see San Marino on the far left. (another photo essay on it coming up later on!)
That's a telescope, not a howitzer!, another view of San Marino.
And I found a butterfly trapped inside the fortress.
3. The Prisoner Cells
First the cells!
something to peek through to check on the prisoners! The stairs go up to the upper storey
There was no door to this cell, the prisoner would be dropped into the cell from the trapdoor from the upper storey.
That's the view of the trapdoor from below (they created a door to allow tourists to get inside the cell)
The bed, notice the wooden pillow?
Some of the windows to the prisoner's cells!
This is how the cell looks from inside
And a very embarrassed prisoner in another cell! (he is wishing his Baba was inside the cell!)
4. The Torture Museum
There is a small museum inside the castle.
The barrel. You would be locked inside the barrel as the lithograph on the wall shows and then left like that, wallowing in your own filth, you could be hung from those iron rings as well. Here's is another example.
The bottom bit contains a pillory or a mobile stockade. The top shelf has a bit more business like stuff. It seems to be something that you fit over the head and screw in till the spikes on the inside of the ring start hurting your cranium. Pretty much guaranteed to give you a good sized headache. It also resembles a Scold's Bridle.
On the top, you have a leather belt, which was again tightened around your head till you squealed or if you didnt confess to your crime, would keep on getting tightened till the cranium imploded. The lower shelf contains bog standard anklets and bracelets. The anklets have inward pointing teeth!
Now this was guaranteed to give you a crashing headache as well. Pretty clear what it was supposed to do, shove your head inside the space between the base and the upturned base, and your friendly neighbourhood torturer would rotate the handle on the top till your head is cupped in the depressions. Eye popping, eh?
Some more examples of stockades but this time they have teeth and screws.
Your standard beheading block and saw, to either lop off or saw off bits of your body.
Then comes the Judas Chair whose photo did not come out properly but the lithograph shows what it was supposed to do.
Another lithograph of a stockade.
Catherine or Breaking Wheel. Pretty much self evidentiary.
5. The Dungeon
Then we enter the dungeon!
the hanging cage, your naughty boy would be put in here and then the cage will be hung from a nice convenient location where he can be seen by all and sundry. They took their punishment seriously, no?
Notice the spikes at the waist height? So that you could not lean against the walls
And the spikes at the bottom so that you could not stand properly.
Then the rack. You lock the hands or ankles into the right stockade. Notice the small spikes on the bed? Not sure what was the function of the triangular funnel but I guess you could use it for many things.
Then tie the hands/legs using the rope and then away you go with the handle and stretch till your joints pop. The embedded spikes would, of course, give you a nice scratch all this time.
This was not technically a torture device but more an execution device. You sit down on the small step and your neck is inserted into that round loop. Then the handle is turned and a screw emerges and presses against your neck till your neck is broken.
Then this is your bog standard spiked chair. Funny, I find these chairs in every bank! A variant of an Iron Maiden?
a fragment of the plaster where prisoners and executioners had scratched their names and thoughts!
Italian Medieval Torture at San Leo
- » Published on January 15, 2008
- » Type: News
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