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Disembowelling tongs, Belgium, 1401-1700

These heavy iron tongs were allegedly used for disembowelling prisoners during torture. They reputedly came from the fortress of Vilvoorde in Brussels, Belgium. This was an important military stronghold in the Middle Ages. Torture was commonly used in England during the Middle Ages and well beyond. It was considered a legitimate way of extracting information from prisoners. Disembowelment was also part of executions. It was often used with other methods such as hanging and dismemberment.

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Glossary: torture

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Glossary: torture equipment

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Glossary: tongs

Any of numerous devices used for taking hold of objects, consisting commonly of two metal pieces that are joined at one end or near one end by a pivot or spring, forming the two jaws which are used for gripping.