Iron chair

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The Iron Chair is a torture device that has several different variations depending on its origin and use throughout history. It also has many names - the Chinese torture chair, the torture chair, and the Iron Chair. In all cases, the victim was seated on several strips or plates of brass and placed over an open flame and slowly roasted alive. In other variations, the "[culprits] were tied to an iron armchair and then slowly pushed nearer and nearer to a blazing fire."[1][2][3] Another version of this chair was even more diabolical due to the addition of hundreds of sharp spikes which lined the back, seat, armrests and leg rests. The number of spikes ranged from 500 to 1,500.[4] The victim would be placed onto the chair and then iron restraints would be tightened, forcing the spikes deep into his or her flesh. To keep the victim from moving, their wrists were tied to the chair or bars were used to push their wrists down into the spikes which penetrated the skin and caused excruciating pain.[5] After the victim was strapped into the chair, the torturer could place coals beneath the chair and control the rate at which the victim was burned.[6] The chair could also be heated by lighting a fire underneath.[7] To inflict even more pain, the torturer could use breast rippers or strike the victim with a mallet.[8]

The time required for people to die by this method of torture varied. It could take up to several hours, a day, or even more.[9] None of the spikes pierced any vital organs and blood loss was kept to a minimum as the spikes actually prevented blood loss.[10] If the victim survived the chair, he would either die of blood loss after enduring the torture and being removed from the spikes or would die of an infection from the puncture marks in their body.[11]

The Iron Chair’s strength as an instrument of torture is due more from psychological fear than physical fear.[12] A very common practice of getting the victim to confess would be to show them someone else being tortured on the Iron Chair. This would lead to fear and anxiety resulting in the victim’s confession.[13]

During the Spanish Inquisition (1450-1600), the Catholic Church was responsible for burning up to 30,000 people and torturing alleged witches.[14] The victims were brought into a torture room where they were tortured until they confessed. Then they were brought into another room and made to repeat the confession so they confessed without the use of force.[15] The inquisitors’ overzealous interpretation of their religious beliefs justified, in their minds, the use of the Iron Chair to torture Christian martyrs. In, the “Acts of Saints Paul and Juliana”, as well as in “The History of Saint Blasé”, St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote (Christian martyr):

"Again the Judge commanded seven seats of brass to be brought in, and commanded the women, seven in number, who during the tormenting of St. Blasé had collected the drops of his blood as they fell, to sit upon them, one in each. Then the seats were heated so hot that sparks flew from them as from a furnace heated to the utmost."[16]

Torture, along with mass murder, was rampant during the Middle Ages particularly in Nuremberg and Regensburg.[17] It was used to extract information, punish robbers, force confessions and frighten opponents. The Iron Chair was just one of the many torture devices created in the Middle Ages and used until the 1800s.[18] However, torture was also used during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine CE 306-337.[19] The Iron Chair was one of the main tools for torturing the heretics. If the victims died before the torture was over, they believed that the Devil spared the victim from any more harm or from spilling their secrets to the torturer.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Torture". The Shrewsbury Ghost Hunt. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  2. ^ "Medieval Torture". Medieval Information. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Lyon: The Roman Amphitheater". Athena Review Image Archive. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Medieval Torture. Medieval warfare Resources. 2013.
  5. ^ The Chair of Torture. Medievality. November 9, 2008 (2014)
  6. ^ The Chair of Torture. Medievality. November 9, 2008 (2014)
  7. ^ Abbott, Geoffrey (2007). What a Way to Go: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to Death. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0312366568. 
  8. ^ The Inquisition: A History of Christian Torture Mass Murder and Destruction of Human Life.
  9. ^ The Chair of Torture. Medievality. November 9, 2008 (2014)
  10. ^ The Chair of Torture. Medievality. November 9, 2008 (2014)
  11. ^ The Chair of Torture. Medievality. November 9, 2008 (2014)
  12. ^ The Chair of Torture. Medievality. November 9, 2008 (2014)
  13. ^ The Chair of Torture. Medievality. November 9, 2008 (2014)
  14. ^ The Inquisition: A History of Christian Torture Mass Murder and Destruction of Human Life.
  15. ^ The Inquisition: A History of Christian Torture Mass Murder and Destruction of Human Life.
  16. ^ the Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs. Boston Catholic Journal, chapter VII. 2014.
  17. ^ An interrogation Chair. Museum of Medieval Torture instruments.
  18. ^ Medieval Torture. Medieval warfare Resources. 2013.
  19. ^ The Inquisition: A History of Christian Torture Mass Murder and Destruction of Human Life.
  20. ^ The Inquisition: A History of Christian Torture Mass Murder and Destruction of Human Life.