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European Hereticís Fork Torture Device, 17th C

Used primarily in the Catholic parts of Europe from medieval times through at least the 18th Century, the hereticís fork is a simple, but extremely cruel torture device. It was used to get the accused to recant statements or actions considered to be heresy by the Church. It consists of a very sharp forged iron double-ended two-tined fork with an integrally forged central buckle through which a leather strap is threaded. The strap fastens around the accusedís neck so as to force one end of the fork into the chin and the other into the sternum. The torturer can adjust the tightness of the belt between moderate discomfort and considerable agony. Generally the belt was tightened until the accused recanted. In instances when they did not, they were often then condemned to be burned at the stake. From the former torture collection at Schloss Rodenegg, Austria. A similar example is illustrated in "La storia dell Inquisizione", by Carlo Havas, Milan 1930. Surviving examples are quite rare.