The Judas Cradle, also known as the Judas chair and The Guided Cradle, was a tall stool shaped torture device with a metal or wooden pyramid on top allegedly used by the Spanish Inquisition. In Italian it is the culla di Giuda ("Cradle of Judas"), in German the Judaswiege ("Judas Cradle"), and in French the veille—"the wake" or "nightwatch" (because when certain muscles are contracted, the victim could not fall asleep).[dubious ]
The victim would be stripped, bound with ropes, and suspended above the device. They would then be lowered, usually very slowly, on to the device, making the pyramid enter the vagina, anus or scrotum. The amount of pain the device inflicted could be changed in several ways. The victim could be rocked, they could be dropped repeatedly onto the device, one leg could be lifted, olive oil could be spread on the pyramid, or brass weights could be hung from the victim's legs to slowly impale them. Sometimes to prolong torture the victim would be suspended above the device over night, and torture would continue the next morning. The device was rarely, if ever, cleaned. If victims did not die from the device, they almost always died from infection. Torture with the Judas Cradle could last several hours to several days. Apart from the agonizing pain one suffered, the humiliation was the primary attraction for this method of torture. Whenever the victim fainted from the pain, the torturer would lift the victim until the tortured person was "awake" again to commence with the process.
A similar device, known as a horse, is sometimes said to have been used in Prussia to discipline soldiers, and during the American Civil War by Union guards in Camp Douglas against their Confederate prisoners to extract information. This device was not designed to break the skin but instead cause damage to the genitals.
- del Bosque, Torrente (2006). Kínzások és kivégzések története. Gyomaendrőd, Hungary: FETT PRINT Nyomda és Kiadó Betéti Társaság. p. 50. ISBN 963-9409-08-1.