Thumbscrew, steel, probably French, 1601-1850
Thumbscrews were torture instruments. They made prisoners reveal information or ‘confess’ to crimes. The thumb was placed between the screw and the metal plate at the bottom. The screw was then tightened. The thumb could be reduced to a bloody pulp if enough pressure was applied. Prisoners were also hoisted up by their thumbs. The prisoner was often subjected to the thumbscrews before even more painful forms of torture were used. These included the rack, where limbs were stretched and broken.
Cite this page
We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.
Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero
Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence
Download catalogue entry as json
Download manifest IIIF
Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.