The Pear of Anguish

Medieval Torture Devices: The Pear of Anguish - History & Pictures

The Pear of Anguish, also known as the choke pear or vaginal pear, was a torture and interrogation device used in medieval Europe. It was typically pear-shaped and made of metal, with a screw mechanism at the top.

The device could be inserted into a victim’s mouth, anus, or vagina, and then gradually expanded by turning the screw. As it expanded, the pear would stretch or tear the orifice, causing immense pain and often resulting in severe internal injuries.

The Pear of Anguish in Medieval Times

The Pear of Anguish was primarily used to punish individuals accused of sodomy, heresy, or other perceived moral or sexual transgressions. It was also employed as a means of extracting confessions or information from suspects, as the threat of its use could be enough to coerce compliance.

While the Pear of Anguish is perhaps the most well-known example of this type of device, variations of it were used in various cultures and time periods throughout history. Other versions potentially included:

  • The Anal Pear: This was a variation of the Pear of Anguish specifically designed for use in the victim’s anus. It would be inserted into the rectum and then expanded, causing excruciating pain and potentially causing internal injuries. It was often used as a punishment for sodomy or other perceived sexual offenses.

  • The Vaginal Pear: Similar to the Anal Pear, this device was designed for insertion into the victim’s vagina. It would be expanded inside the vaginal canal, causing extreme pain and potentially causing injuries to the vaginal walls. It was often used as a punishment for perceived sexual misconduct or adultery.

Due to its cruel and invasive nature, the Pear of Anguish is one of the more infamous examples of medieval torture devices, serving as a grim reminder of the brutality of justice during that era.

Was the Pear of Anguish Real?

The historical authenticity of the pear of anguish is debated among historians. While there are numerous references to such a device in medieval texts, artwork, and literature, physical evidence of its existence is scarce.

Some historians argue that the Pear of Anguish might have been a symbolic or exaggerated representation of medieval fears and anxieties about sexuality, morality, and punishment. Others suggest that it could have been a real device used in specific regions or contexts, but evidence of its use is lacking or inconclusive.

Without definitive archaeological or historical evidence, it’s challenging to ascertain whether the Pear of Anguish was a commonly used torture device or merely a product of myth and imagination.

The Pear of Anguish. Torture museum in Lubusz Land Museum in Zielona Góra, Poland.
The Pear of Anguish. Torture museum in Lubusz Land Museum in Zielona Góra, Poland.

Examples of Real Pears of Anguish:
The Pear of Confession

This device was similar in design to the Pear of Anguish but was used primarily for extracting confessions rather than causing physical harm. It would be inserted into the victim’s mouth, and when expanded, it would cause immense discomfort, making it difficult for the victim to speak or breathe properly until they confessed.

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