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The Iron Maiden, otherwise known as the Virgin of Nuremberg, was a device used from the XVI century to torture criminals.

It stands 7 feet tall and is able to accommodate a man. The victim was tied inside the Maiden and one of the two doors was shut, penetrating the victim’s flesh with the strategically-placed spikes that didn’t penetrate any vital organs. When completely closed, the screams from the victim could not be heard outside, nor could the victim see any light or hear anything. This increased the psychological pain. Additionally, the spikes blocked the wounds so it took many hours - or even days - for death to occur. 

If the door was opened, the victim would stand in the exact same position so if the torturer chose to close the door again, the spikes would penetrate the exact same wounds. Sometimes the door was intermittently closed to maximise the victim’s pain without delivering death.

The iron maiden is often associated with the middle ages, but in fact was not invented until the 19th century. No account of the iron maiden has been found earlier than 1793, although medieval torture devices were elaborately catalogued with horrified fascination and reproduced during the 19th century for collectors of the macabre.

Wolfgang Schild, a professor of criminal law, criminal law history and philosophy of law at the University of Bielefeld, has argued that any known iron maidens were in fact pieced together from several artifacts found in museums, in order to create spectacular objects intended for (commercial) exhibition”

(via thebookmassacre-deactivated2012)