Stinky History: 6 of England’s worst medieval torture devices

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1. The Rack (or The Duke of Exeter’s Daughter)


The rack was a very popular torture device with a very simple function – to stretch a victim on a wooden frame until the pain was unimaginable. Legs were tied at one bottom of a roller, with the wrists tied at the top. The body was then pulled until confession. The sound of snapping cartilage and ligaments was said to be most gruesome. Worst – once a body is stretched beyond a certain point, even if the torture is stopped, the muscle fibres lose their ability to contract, thus crippling the person for the rest of their lives. Pray for just a few broken bones then if you ever find yourself on one.

The rack in the Tower of London was called “The Duke of Exeter’s Daughter” – named after the constable of the Tower of London in 1447, John Holland, the 2nd Duke of Exeter. Lovely.

Most famously tortured: Guy Fawkes, the head of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

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Blimey! is your daily dose of British news and features for anglophiles everywhere! This article was carefully written by Tim Holt, a British blogger, photographer and actor based in the USA. Forever torn between two magnificent slices of sod.

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