Middle Ages Torture Museum

We finally, after almost twenty years in the Rhine Valley, went to visit the Middle Ages Torture Museum. I was motivated more by a sense of duty to my home page than from a desire to see the museum itself.

Having said that, it was fascinating in a horrific sort of way. It did make one realise what a privilege it is to live in a 21st century democracy rather than a middle ages theocracy.

Sadly as the museum shows some of the barbaric practices of these former times are still practiced to-day in various parts of the world. The where and by whom I'll let you find out for yourselves in the museum.

It is a sad fact that many of the outrages were performed not only with the blessing of the church but indeed at its instigation as they revolved around establishing whether someone was a heretic or witch. Witch hunts (Hexenjagd) with their staged trials constituted a particularly cruel persecution of women - often the trials/tests were so designed that if the woman died during her ordeal her innocence was established but if she survived it proved she was in league with the devil and she was then sentenced to be burnt at the stake.

To be suspected of being a witch was a danger to which many were at risk - for example the mere possession of a black cat could be enough. Intelligent and successful women were particularly at risk.

The possessions of the condemned often then fell to the church who provided judge and jury to decide on the guilt of the accused. A true middle ages conflict of interests!!

I don't want go into a detailed catalogue of the atrocities committed but suffice it to say that being condemned to being placed in the stocks for a day where the riff-raff could throw anything from rotten fruit to excrement at one was definitely to be counted among the mildest of punishments.

Do I recommend a visit to the museum - hard to say.To simply go to gawk at the misfortunes suffered by innocents in the past is hardly edifying. On the other hand to become more aware of the inestimable value of living in a society where the due process of law affords protection from what happened in the past and could, if we lose our grip on our values, happen again is something worthwhile to have gained from a visit.

You will have to decide for yourselves if you wish to visit.

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