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The Rack


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Probably the most infamous and most widely used instrument of torture, the rack dates back to the ancient Greeks. There are few records of its use before the Middle Ages but, during the Spanish Inquisition from the middle of the 13th century onwards, there was an increase in its use. At the Tower of London the rack was sometimes claimed as the invention of the Duke of Exeter, a 15th-century Constable of the Tower. During the religious ferment that gripped England in the 16th-century, the rack was used freely not only by the Catholic Queen Mary, but by those monarchs who had broken with Rome - Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I. It continued in use until Stuart times when it was used on Guy Fawkes and his accomplices. Some people did stay silent when tortured but not many.

4th Aug 2007 by Diane Earl


Key Stages:
Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

London tower dungeon gaol prison punish crime criminal torture rack confess confession Inquisition Catholic Protestant

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