Heretic's Fork
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.

All images on this site are copyright © 2008 by Tom Block Arts. Please contact the artist for use of these images.