In that day and age it was all too easy for criminals to flee from a crime UN accused and unpunished seeing as there was no major arm of law present to further investigate certain crimes or follow up on possible suspects, s a result when an individual was caught for a crime or under suspicion they were tortured as a means to obtain a confession. The Justice system and the practice of torture presented both the victims and the accused with many problems however this was all due to the harsh realities of the 18th century.
From a modern point of view torture is seen as outrageous and inhumane however in the 18th century it was practiced as an attempt to set an example for society and lower the overall crime rate, although the barbarity of these acts reflects poorly on behalf the 1 8th century society there were still many people who saw torture for its egregious nature and advocated for more tolerant alternatives.
Torture was used since the beginning of collocation however the practice became extremely popular during the 18th century, an era where using brute force was regularly encouraged. Torture existed well before the eighteenth century; the Greeks and Egyptians also used torture as means of obtaining a confession however torture for the purpose of interrogation was usually conducted in private it was hidden because they were aware of the social and political Implications that followed.
As Roman law adapted torture became part of the official Justice system of the 1 8th century, a system where the accused we tried, tortured and executed in public so that everyone was aware of the punishment that would follow crime. Torture was at its peak during the inquisition period where heretics were persecuted and tortured if they refused to change their religion or admit they were not Roman Catholic. It was this period, which were called “the witch trials” that reintroduced torture to Europe.
Slaves and others of lower class were also falsely accused and tortured for petty individual would suffer being stretched on the rack, a public whipping or exposure in the stocks. Torture was used to set an example to others in society as an attempt to lower the overall crime rate and obtain a confession. Most punishments in the 18th century took place in public; torture was an elaborate and shocking practice that was intended to discourage anyone who watched from crime.
It was a threat to all criminals and a warning to all citizens, in a day countless amounts of people were tortured to death without a trial or a clear dissertation of their offense. This caused an outrage amongst many members of society who wanted to see change and improvement on a level where issues were approached in a more humanistic manner. Many enlightenment philosophies protested for a more tolerant society, people like Voltaire spoke against the evils of the Justice system and torture until he died.
In his writing Scientific Religion he says: “What horror is this, a secret Judgment a more execrable tyranny than that of spilling blood on a whim without giving the least reason, it is important for everyone that such decisions should be biblically justified” (Brains, 1998) Voltaire biggest issue with torture was the fact that people were not Justified with an explanation for what they had done, they were not given a trial or a chance to defend themselves. It was said that an accused individual would be tortured and if they were indeed not guilty God would save them from their predicament.
Torture as a tool of interrogation is not a new phenomenon, in the Greek playwright “The Frogs” the Aristotelian asked a character which method they should use to torture a slave and he replied: “In any mode you please pile bricks upon him, stuff his SSE with acid, flay, rack him, hoist him or flog him with a scourge of prickly bristles” (Ramose, Dupes, Zoological, & Careened, 2005) The method of piling bricks on an individual was used to force the person into a plea of guilty or not guilty during a felony case.
Flaying involved the removal of a portion of the skin from the body, flaying was also used as a method of execution, when a larger portion of skin was removed. The rack was a torture device that consisted of a frame with a roller on both ends the victim was chained by the hands and legs to both ends of the frame ND the rollers were turned which would slowly pull the victim’s body in opposite directions causing their Joints to come apart.
The process of hoisting an individual consisted of binding the victim’s hands and hanging them by a rope attached to their hands causing their shoulder blades to dislocate. Flogging is a method where an individual is struck with a whip tipped with sharp ends meant to tear the victims flesh. The methods that were described in the playwright were used by the Greeks and then adapted and practiced by the 18th century society.
A large number of the 18th century torture methods proved to be Just as their cruel abilities, whether they fell victim to torture through their own actions or due to false accusations. Society was no longer running on the basis of obeying the laws to protect everyone but more so obeying to stay alive. Cesar Bacteria spoke out against the corruption of the Justice system, in his essay on crimes and punishment he tries to educate people on the possible alternatives to torture while still for maintaining order and putting crime at bay: “It is better to prevent crimes that to knish them…
Do you want to prevent crimes? See to that the laws are clear and simple and that the entire force of the nation is in their defense. See to it that men fear the law and nothing else, the fear of laws is salutary but the fear of men is a fruitful and fatal source of crimes. ” (Halls, 1977) Cesar understood that torture would never be the solution to crime and he made it clear in his essay that it was barbaric and outrageous and if there were to be any advancement in the 18th century society torture had to end.
From a modern point of view torture is seen as outrageous and inhumane however in the 18th century it was practiced as an attempt to set an example for society and lower the overall crime rate, although the barbarity of these acts reflect poorly on behalf the 18th century society there were still many people who saw torture for its egregious nature and advocated for more tolerant alternatives. Torture was used since the beginning of civilization and then adapted by 18th century Romans however they changed the practice in to something more horrific than it originally was.