Foot roasting

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Foot roasting is a method of torture used since ancient times. The Romans immobilized the prisoner and pressed red-hot iron plates to the soles of their feet. The Spanish Inquisition frequently employed an enhanced technique, binding the prisoner face-upward to the rack with the bare feet secured in stocks. The soles of the feet were basted with lard or oil and slowly barbecued over a brazier of burning coals. A screen could be interposed between the feet and the coals to modulate the exposure, while a bellows controlled the intensity of the flame. Variants included suspending the prisoner head-downward and placing hot coals directly on the soles. Foot roasting remains a popular technique of torture to this day, though the modern variant typically makes use of a clothes iron applied to the soles, optionally complemented by the use of a soldering iron or electric wood-burning pencil to explore the delicate webbing between the toes.

Knights Templar[edit]

Foot roasting was one of the principal tortures used to extract supposed confessions of heresy and other accusations made against the Knights Templar after their arrest in October 1307. It is recorded that one Templar's feet were so savagely tortured that—as he was being carried back to his cell—various pieces of charred bone fell from his feet to the floor, here and there. Prisoners could also be suspended head-downwards from stocks, with hot coals placed directly on the soles of the feet—held in place by gravity—while thin slivers of burning embers were slid between pairs of adjacent toes.


In Brittany, an enhanced interrogation chair was used [1] that immobilized the feet and provided a movable tray of coals that could be cranked up and down, eventually making physical contact with the soles of the feet.

Star kicking[edit]

A form of torture called "star kicking" supposedly began with Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who would place oiled bits of paper or string between the prisoner's toes and light the material on fire.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Abbott, G., Rack, Rope, and Red-Hot Pincers