2008. Throughout history man has gone to great lengths to develop the technology of torture. Learn about a new discovery that proves victim's bones were snapped apart on the rack--not the joints being pulled apart as previously believed. Investigate the actual cause of death for those who were burned at the stake.
This documentary looked at forms of torture and torture devices that were used throughout history. The first ancient torture device that was looked at was The Rack, a device that stretched the human body to inflict grevious pain. It was first used by the ancient Greeks and has been used throughout history since then. The documentary looked at the creation/development of the rack and how it worked. As a person was stretched upon the rack their muscles would have been stretched little by little and possibly given way and then tendons would have been ripped from the bone and then surprisingly a person's bones might have even broken in two! It is hard to think of anyone not confessing to whatever crimes/charges/allegations were made against them under this extreme form of slow and painful torture!

The next form of torture looked at was an ancient Roman method called the Tunica Molesta which was designed by Emperor Nero for entertainment. The Tunica Molesta was a type of tunic made out of a flammable material that a person would have been forced to put on. Then the tunic was set alight and basically the person was turned into a fireball and would have burned to death. The documentary showed a stunt man dressing up in a Tunica Molesta (overtop of protective clothing). It was a spectacular yet horrific sight!

Whipping was a common form of punishment throughout the ancient world. It was designed to be a simple method in which to punish or inflict pain upon someone that could also be done in public as a warning to others. One type of whip developed during the Roman times was The Scorpion Whip which had multiple metal hooks on the end of the straps which were designed to tear skin from the bone. The documentary showed this whip being used upon a dead pig's carcass and it created multiple little cuts in the skin which would have been extremely painful and bloody.

During Medieval Times another torture device was called the Pear of Anguish. It was believed during these times that the punishment should fit the crimes and thus if someone lied or blasphemed their punishment should involve the mouth. The Pear of Anguish was a metal device that was shaped like a pear and inserted into the mouth and slowly cranked open. People resisting would most likely have had their teeth broken as the device was pushed into the mouth. Once it was in the mouth and then slowly expanded a person's jaw would have been stretched and dislocated. It would have also made breathing difficult due to pushing against the airway and combined with a person's fear could have led to a person having a heart attack.

Another form of torture during Medieval Times was to be burned at the stake. People who opposed the Catholic Church and its teachings would have been guilty of heresy and thus their sentence was to be burned at the stake. It was believed that through burning a person would have a taste of what hell would have been like and recant. The documentary looks at Bishop John Hooper who was a Protestant who refused to revert back to Catholicism during the reign of Mary I. He was burned at the stake but according to documents it took him over forty five minutes to die! The documentary explained that people could have died by two ways, either their outer skin burning through to internal organs or by inhaling the flames which would burn the breathing passage. Inhaling flames would have killed a person very quickly, probably in less than two minutes, where as having their skin burned would have taken around five or so minutes. It is doubtful then that Bishop John Hooper took forty five minutes to die.

The last form of ancient torture looked at was created by Vlad the Impaler. This method of torture was essentially impaling a person while they stood upright. A pole or sharp stake was inserted into a person's rectum, up through their body and out through their mouth area, avoiding all major internal organs so the person would suffer a long, slow and extremely painful death. It is believed that Vlad the Impaler had thousands upon thousands of people killed using this method.

This was quite a gruesome documentary and there were a few points in which I found myself shuddering and cringing at the very thought of the types of horrific torture some people suffered. Being a lover of Tudor history I was particularly interested in the torture used during those times such as The Rack and The Pear of Anguish, to even think that people endured these types of excruciating types of torture just boggles the mind. I feel very blessed to live in a country in which torture in these forms no longer exist!

Film Duration: 42 min