Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Inquisition - Water Torture

Journeys through the various parishes of Europe on the Church’s business would sometimes lead us to small towns. These towns did not have the prison and examination facilities of the larger cities. This was a problem, because these smaller towns had just as bad a problem with sedition, witchery and apostasy, if not worse. Our services and knowledge were frequently welcomed in such smaller parishes.

Such was the case with the small town of Kempten, where the local church and mayor were at a loss what to do with a prisoner that was suspected of stealing from the church coffers and perhaps even cavorting with the devil and spreading insidious practices to other women in the town. The woman had remained in jail for several weeks, protesting her innocence repeatedly. How to persuade her to confess? For an execution could not continue, and other members of her coven discovered, without a confession.

The mayor of the town explained to us that the witch had been whipped, but to no avail. They were unfamiliar with the ways of persuasion, and asked us to assist. He was amusingly apologetic that they had no instruments of torture available in their prison.

I asked him if he had a bucket of water. He said yes, of course. I informed him that he had a most efficacious instrument of torture. Then I asked if he had some cloth. He laughed, and said, of course. I explained that with these two items, we would have no problem extracting any confession that he desired.

The mayor, with much curiosity, accompanied us to the jail in order to watch our proceedings. We welcomed him, as long as he brought some wine and bread. He did, and we located a good table in the prison and requested that the prisoner be brought to us.

The woman was young, with long black hair that looked silky as it flowed down. She was quite thin, though of hardy constitution. Her clothing showed she was poor, for her bodice and dress were patched and sewn back together in many places.

I asked why she was still fully clothed if she had been whipped, and the jailer indicated that only her top had been removed for the whipping, and that it had been returned to her after. I laughed at this, and shook my head sadly at the incompetence of the locals. This error would soon be corrected, and I decided to take this opportunity to explain correct procedures to this bumpkin.

The point of torture and punishment, I explained, was to invoke as much mental anguish as possible. It had little to do with the actual damage that was being inflicted to the body. The point is to make the victim suffer. If this can be done with minimal damage, then it should be done. Being primarily mental, suffering is enhanced by attacking the victim mentally, as well as physically. Thus, especially with women, stripping the victim of their clothes creates an atmosphere of vulnerability, and enhances the feelings of helplessness. Subsequent discomfort has all the more impact when the woman is stripped of their clothing and privacy.

The first order of business was to strip her. I grasped her bodice firmly, and pulled, tearing the fabric as the clothing came off. Her breasts were small and firm, and the lash marks from her whipping were and angry red, though they had begun to heal. With two more strong pulls, her skirt and all other clothing was removed, and she stood naked in front of myself, the guard, and the mayor of the town. All stood viewing her body appreciatively, even as she tried to cover herself with her hands and cast eyes downward.

The witch was laid back on the table, struggling all the while. It was clear she was well fed, and that the whipping had not been severe. We first concentrated on getting her wrists tied and stretched over her head. Once secured, we more liesurely tied each ankle , stretching her body taught to avoid undo movement and make our activities simpler and easier. She looked most lovely stretched there on the table, and I felt the stirrings of arousal in my loins, the first sign of the witch casting a spell to attempt seduction. If I had doubts before, there were none now. This fiend must be made to confess.

I positioned myself at the woman’s head. Tearing a large strip of cloth from her clothes, I first stroked her face kindly, almost lovingly. I then covered her face with the cloth, and stroked her more. She did not struggle, and was confused by my kind touch, though the fear in her eyes as the cloth was laid over her face was clear.

I then took a cup of water, and poured it on the cloth. Most ran off, and over her head and neck, but much of it soaked the cloth wet, and the cloth conformed to her face, adhering to it well. The water in the cloth prevented any air from passing through to the witch, and she immediately began gasping for air. The outline of her open mouth was clearly seen through the cloth.

I continued to pour water over the cloth, stroking it to assure the wet cloth adhered closely to her face. As long as the cloth was soaked wet, the witch would gasp for air and recieve none. As the witch’s gasps became more desparate, I raised the cloth slightly, allowing in some air. She would breath for a while, and then the cloth was replaced and more water applied. She gasped for air, unable to breath through the thin layer of water in the cloth, and struggled terribly against her restraints. Her stomach would writhe and contract as she tried to breath. I caressed her breasts as she struggled on the table.

After 20 or 30 minutes of this process, we moved on to the next form of water torture.

I obtained a small stick, one that fit nicely in to her mouth. Persuading her to open her mouth was not difficult, and the stick slipped in and lodged, holding her jaw open. True, the ends were rough and pierced the top of her mouth, as well as the soft flesh just behind her teeth in her jaw. There was some blood, and no small amount of moaning and crying out.

With her mouth held open in this manner, I simply squeezed her nose shut and began pouring water in to her mouth. With a constant stream filling her mouth, her only real option was to swallow. At first, she attempted to spit or push the water out, but with her jaw held open she could not, and she breathed in a considerable amount of water in to her lungs. This caused a coughing fit, which was made worse by the continuous flow of water, which seeped back down in to her lungs as she attempted to cough it up.

Taking water in to the lungs as she did was very painful. She was essentially drowning, laying there on the table in the back room in that jail. The panic in her eyes was clear, as she tried to stop her convulsions, and swallow the water.

She at last suppressed her cough long enough to swallow some of the water, and clear her mouth for a moment. She took in some air with the water, and was able to continue for a while before she began convulsing again.

As time went on, she alternated between coughing and choking spasms that wracked her body in agony, and swallowing, drinking huge amounts of water as it poured down her throat. In her panic, she had attempted to close her mouth several times, and the wooden stick had driven cruelly in to the flesh in her mouth. Blood could be seen clearly in the water that she managed to spit out, and more was undoubtedly being swallowed or inhaled into her lungs.

As the torture continued, she lost consciousness from lack of air, and short periods were given to her to allow recovery. These periods lasted about half a minute before the water began pouring in to her mouth again.

While her body had been immobilized by spreading and stretching across the table, the agony of her suffering caused fits, and she writhed constantly. I placed my hand on her stomach, feeling her muscles constantly working, struggling to breathe, to expel water that entered and burned in her lungs, never able to complete the process because of the water that continued to pour down her throat.

Her agony was exquisite, but she was also showed signs of slowly losing strength. I decided to allow her some rest and recovery, and perhaps her first opportunity for confession.

She lay on the table, writhing and straining and she coughed up water, slowly clearing her lungs. This went on for perhaps half an hour, as she gradually regained her strength and breathed more normally. Her stomach was somewhat distended from the large amount of water she had swallowed, and it was clear she remained in pain, as she cried out for mercy.

Mercy was offered to her, for the first time. If she would confess, and name the other members of her witch’s coven, then the trial by water would end.

In spite of her hoarse screaming and begging for mercy, she did not confess. We decided to move to the next level of the water ordeal.

After she recovered and had stopped writhing on the table, her dress was gathered from the dirt floor where it lay in shreds. From the skirt, I tore one long, thin strip of cloth, perhaps 3 feet in length. Her mouth was once again propped open, and fresh buckets of water brought.

This time the water was poured in to her mouth in stages, allowing her to swallow and then breathe. The second time water was poured, I inserted the strip of cloth in to her mouth and down her throat. In spite of gagging and resisting, her natural swallow reflex pulled the cloth down in to her throat, and with further encouragement with more water, more and more of the cloth slowly disappeared into her stomach.

The cloth made her gag, her stomach shook, trying to expel the rag and she vomited slightly. The cloth was too long, and too stiff for her to expel through vomiting, and it remained inserted in to her mouth, down her throat and into her stomach.

Once inserted sufficiently that only a small amount of the cloth extended from between her lips, the rest being hidden in her throat and stomach, we ceased pouring water. While hard for her to talk to us, she was once again able to deny the charges, and protest her innocence. We warned her that it would go hard on her if she did not confess but the devil’s strength was in her.

With a single, sudden movement I seized the end of the cloth and pulled. The cloth began to come back out, in the processes scraping and tearing the inside of her stomach and throat. The cloth was jerked out of her quickly, and the sudden agony of having her innards almost ripped out of her was too much. She screamed once, and then fainted, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth.

As she lay on the table, it was impossible not to observe the beauty of this lovely creature, spread and stretched before us. One of the better points of torture by water is that the victim is left basically unchanged on the outside. Her naked form lay before us, inviting us, and the mayor himself indulged in stroking and appreciating the woman’s breasts and private parts, even going so far as to enter her with two fingers.

She awoke from her faint, but was disoriented and the pain that wracked the inside of her body caused her to begin to cry. It was difficult for her to speak, and when we asked her questions again, she did nothing but croak. Her slick, wet body writhed and strained against the restraints as she refused once again.

Thus the cloth and water was again introduced, forced down her throat and as her cries and pleas reached hysterics, the cloth was again removed quickly, forcefully, tearing and shredding her insides. Blood bubbled out of her mouth as she coughed.

As we moved to repeat the procedure again, we heard her croak something and stopped to listen. With some difficulty, we heard her say “I Confess”. This was enough. Her right hand was untied, and I held the confession paper while she signed by making her mark (the guard guided her hand).

Over the next hour, we also obtained the names of three other women in the town, all of which were her confederates, servants of the devil.

She was returned to her cell, awaiting judgment from a traveling magistrate.