The Pear of Anguish: medieval torture device used against women accused of witchcraft

David Goran
Featured image

There is a wide range of medieval torture devices that were available in the Middle Ages.

These devices were separately created for men and women.

One of these devices invented exclusively for women torture was the Pear of Anguish (known as choke pear-the modern name for this instrument displayed in some museums).

The Pear of Anguish, displayed at the Museum der Festung Salzburg, Austria. Photo Credit

The Pear of Anguish, displayed at the Museum der Festung Salzburg, Austria. Photo Credit

There are no contemporary first-hand accounts on these devices or their use.

However, according to their design, concerning metal consistency and style, the devices ought to date from the early modern period, circa 1600 (in “General Inventory of the History of Thieves“ by F. de Calvi in 1639). Further mentions of the device appear in the 19th century.

The Pear of Anguish. Torture museum in Lubuska Land Museum in Zielona Góra, Poland. Photo Credit

The Pear of Anguish. Torture museum in Lubuska Land Museum in Zielona Góra, Poland. Photo Credit

 

It was used to torture women who performed abortions, liars, blasphemers and homosexuals. Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

It was used to torture women who induced a miscarriage, as well as for liars, blasphemers, and homosexuals. Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

It was an extremely painful device used to punish women accused of inducing a miscarriage, liars, blasphemers, and homosexuals.

However, it was mostly used against women that were accused of being witches.

Its true evil can be found in the design. Photo Credit

Its true evil can be noticed in the design. Photo Credit

“Museo de la Inquisición“, Córdoba, Spain. Showcase with a steel chastity belt and a choke pear. Photo Credit

“Museo de la Inquisición“, Córdoba, Spain. Showcase with a steel chastity belt and a choke-pear. Photo Credit

The pear-shaped instrument was inserted into one of the victim’s orifices: the vagina for women, the anus for homosexuals and the mouth for liars and blasphemers.

The instrument (usually made of hard metal, possibly iron) consisted of four leaves that slowly separated from the rest as the torturer turned the screw at the top.

Turning the key opened the leaves, causing massive internal damage.

The Pear of Anguish was rarely washed, thus causing infections very frequently. Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

It was rarely washed, thus causing infections very frequently. Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

This torture rarely provoked death but was often followed by other torture methods.

However, the Pear of Anguish was brutal and many women who were tortured in the medieval dungeons had died from their injuries.

The device was rarely fatal, but other methods of torture would usually follow. Photo Credit

The device was rarely fatal, but other methods of torture would usually follow. Photo Credit

We have another wacko story on medieval torture device:The infamous Iron Maiden: A horrific form of execution intended to inspire terror

Choke Pears can be found in torture museums throughout Europe, invariably crafted with artistic flourish, but their purpose remains clear.