Heretic's fork

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Heretic's fork (strap missing)
Diagram of main components of a Heretic's Fork

The heretic's fork was a torture device, loosely consisting of a length of metal with two opposed bi-pronged "forks" as well as an attached belt or strap.[1]

The device was placed between the breast bone and throat just under the chin and secured with a leather strap around the neck, while the victim was hung from the ceiling or otherwise suspended in a way so that they could not lie down.[2] A person wearing it couldn't fall asleep. The moment their head dropped with fatigue, the prongs pierced their throat or chest, causing great pain.[1][3] This very simple instrument created long periods of sleep deprivation. People were awake for days, which made confessions more likely.[1]

Traditionally, the fork was engraved with the Latin word abiuro (meaning "I recant"), and was used by the various Inquisitions.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "Instruments Gallery". Historical Torture Museum. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  2. ^ Golub, L. (1985). "About This Artwork - The Heretic's Fork, c. 1985". The Art Institute of Chicago - The Collection. The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 13 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Di Perna, A. (September 2008). "Hurts so good". Tune-Ups - Profiles. Retrieved 13 January 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ Stocker, T. (2009). The Paleolithic Paradigm. AuthorHouse. p. 64. ISBN 1-4490-2292-8. Retrieved 13 January 2010. 

See also[edit]