*WARNING: THIS POST IS VERY DESCRIPTIVE IN REGARDS TO A CERTAIN TYPE OF TORTURE DEVICE. SOME READERS MAY BE TOO SENSITIVE FOR THE INFORMATION GIVEN HERE.*
Two simple words - the rack. For some, these words may bring about happy thoughts of shopping in a very popular department store chain. Other people may snicker while thoughts of female anatomy run through their heads. But for me, these two words instill sadness and fear. Want to know why?
"The rack" conjures mental images of a medieval torture device that was commonly used to force people to confess to wrong-doing, or to give up information. It was a form of torture that was meant to be a last-ditch type of option. In other words, "milder" methods of torture were supposed to be used before the rack would be considered. Personally, I would really hope to not have an over-zealous torturer!
The rack was a piece of equipment, generally made of wood, where its victim would be bound by the wrists at one end and by the ankles at the other end. A crank or wheel would then be maneuvered, resulting in the tightening of the ropes. There was a possibility of loud popping noises because ligaments and other internal things could be snapped. Sometimes the device would be cranked too much (whether intentionally or not), and the victim would be rendered paralyzed as a result of dislocation, or possible separation of a limb.
Needless to say, this form of torture was excruciatingly painful on its own. However, often times other methods of torture were applied while the rack's victim was stretched. People would often be burnt, pinched, or have their finger and toe nails ripped off as well.
Though I haven't come across it in my research, it is to my understanding that the rack is no longer used - anywhere. However, in the height of its time, variations of this device were used throughout Europe.