charcoal on paper
14" x 11"
The heretic's fork, used to induce confessions, secured four sharp
prongs deeply and painfully into the flesh of the victim. A small
collar supported the instrument, as it was rammed one end under the
chin and the other into the bone of the sternum. Firmly embedded
into the victim's skin, the fork forced the head upright and
prevented its movement. Penetration of any vital points of the
victim's body were avoided, delaying death and prolonging the
suffering. The victim, left barely able to speak, endured this
position until uttering the phrase engraved on the side of the fork:
"abiuo" ("I recant"). At this point, the victim
may have been spared, or more likely, subject to further torture.
However, if the Inquisitor was unable to illicit a confession using
the fork, death was a certain, if not immediate, outcome. The fork
remained firmly in place, as the victim was taken to be burned at
the stake or hung.
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