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Torture

century, greeks, ture, inquisition, tor and practised

TORTURE, as a means of judicial punish ment, descended to the countries of modern Europe from the Greeks and Romans since it appears not to have been practised by the Hindus, the Hebrews or the Egyptians. Tor ture was judicialy inflicted either to extort con fession, purge sin, or aggravate punishment. As practised by the Greeks, it was not applicable to a freedman, except in certain cases, but was commonly applied to slaves. Indeed the word of a slave could not be admitted as testimony, except under torture, and either party to a con troversy could demand the torture of his op Donent's slaves. The principal modes of tor ture with the Greeks were the wheel, the rack,' the sharp comb, the burning tiles, the vault (into which the victim was bent double), and the injection of vinegar into the nostrils. From the Greeks the Romans got their system of tor ture and from the Roman laws it was engrafted in the judicial systems of all the modern coun tries of Europe. The Romans, like the Greeks, exempted freedmen from the horrors of tor ture, except in cases of treason. But under the emperors the torture of a freedman was not an infrequent occurrence. The Romans chiefly employed the rack, the scourge, hooks for tear ing the flesh, and fire in its various uses. Roman contact with barbarian races gave the practice to the latter, but with one exception it made slow headway in replacing the older and more superstitious custom of the ordeal. That ex ception is in the case of the Visigoths who es tablished a system of torture that remained uninterrupted from the time of their settlement in Spain to modern times, and which furnished a model upon which most of the other Euro pean systems were based. Legalized torture be came common in France during the first part of the 13th century and in Germany a century later. English lawyers assert that it was never legalized in Great Britain, but certain it is that it was commonly practised, and. if not directly enjoined, was at least sanctioned by the laws of that realm. All Europe came under

the system during the 15th century, in conse quence of the systematization of the Inquisition (q.v.), and the grow th of that institution in power and importance, and with the exceptions of Great Britain and Sweden, torture formed a recognized department of the jurisdiction of European nations until the end of the 18th century. During the time of the Inquisition torture was applied by the civil, not by the ec clesiastical, court, and the ecclesiastics present at the question were there simply as witnesses of the confession and not as agents, as popular fancy has pictured them. A confession ex toned by torture was of no avail to the prosecu tion before an ecclesiastical tribunal, unless it was voluntarily confirmed three days afterward. From the 13th century on, the use of torture increased, until its extreme cruelty and the horror of its practice led to a revulsion of feeling and to its general abandonment in the latter half of the 18th century. In some coun tries, however, it continued to be officially recognized and sporadically employed until the early part of the 19th century. It was abolished in Saxony in 1783, in Russia in 1801, in Wfirtem berg and Bavaria 1806-07, in France in 1789 (although it was employed in 1814), in Han over in 1819, and in Baden in 1831. It is be lieved, however, that it was practised in Russia even early in the 20th century. It never was sanctioned in the United States, though °witches" were burnt near Salem, and the burn ing of negroes for rape by lynch law still persists. Consult Lea, H. C., 'Superstition and Force' (1870) • Pearsall, R. L., The Kiss of the Virgin,' etc. (1838) ; Sassen, M. J., (Dis putatio de abusu et usu torturx)(1697); Par sons, 'Studies in Church (Vol. II, Art.

((Inquisition," 1895). See INQUISITION; RACK.