During medieval times in Europe, various cruel torture devices were invented for different purposes. Most importantly, these devices were invented and improved upon when the institution of the Inquisition was in full force during the late medieval period.
The Judas Cradle is not to be confused with another similar torture device called ‘the horse’ that was popular in Prussia during the same period.
Some of the most brutal torture devices used during this period include the Brazen Bull, Chair of Torture, Rack, Pear of Anguish, and others. One of the most brutal and most commonly used devices was called the Judas Cradle which was also known by the alternate names of Judas Chair and the Guided Cradle.
The Judas Cradle was a pyramid-shaped wooden device onto which the victim was placed at the top of the pyramid. His or her hands and legs would be tied so that the weight could not be shifted elsewhere. The victims’ feet were commonly tied with each other with the goal of increasing the pain whenever there was a movement of the feet.
The pointed edge of the pyramid was slowly inserted in the anus or vagina of the victim and the torture could continue from a few hours to entire days. The time, however, also varied from victim to victim depending on various factors other than their own ability to bear the pain.
Sometimes a weight was added to the victim’s legs which increased the pain but also resulted in a quicker death. Other times, oil was put on the device which again increased the pain.
There were generally multiple torturers operating a Judas Cradle. One person would usually be in charge, with others assisting him. The device was invented in 16th century Spain when the institution of Inquisition was widespread and new and brutal techniques of torture were being devised.
The torturers were given a specific amount of money as their fee, their main task was to extract the required information or confession from the victims.
The Judas the Cradle began to be used in 16th century Spain after the institution of Inquisition was established in the country. Thus it was during the late and towards the end and after medieval times that this torture device was most commonly used.
Although mostly used for religious purposes to gain a confession, it was also used against the political opponents of the time. Another device very similar to Judas Cradle was also in vogue in Prussia but its purpose was to discipline the wayward soldiers. This particular device was simply known as the “horse” and was specifically designed to cause damage to the genitals.
Various innovations were used to make torture on Judas Cradle more painful. To being with, the device was never washed which made it all the more dangerous and infectious. This meant that the victim could face deadly infections even if he or she managed to survive.
Among other methods, the victim was repeatedly pushed down on the pyramid to increase the pain. The most common way to increase the pain, however, was to simply add weight to the legs of the victim. Sometimes the victim was raised with the ropes and given monetarily respite, but this was not done out of mercy but only to prolong the pain and misery of the victim.