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The Effect Of Torture Methods On Society

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Throughout Europe, a form a punishment known as torture, grew due to the expansion of knowledge and negatively affected European society. In a simple way, torture was a common form a punishment that was used on victims of crimes. European courts saw this idea as a great idea to use on crimes. It could make making decisions easier to decide whether the victim is guilty or not and if the rank of the crime is torture worthy. Another cause of torture growing in popularity would be due to the witch trials held in Europe during the Counter Reformation. During these trials, witchcraft went against the Church and intimidated juries which caused anyone accused to be executed. Though, as The Enlightenment came, torture took a turn on society. As The Enlightenment expanded people’s mindsets, torture then grew into various forms. Torture in the Enlightenment ages was both positively and negativaley affected. In the Enlightenment many ideas of torture being demolished arose but various formas of new and improved torture was released. Due to this, torture showed a great change from the 1000s to the 1800s. This then caused many laws and rules to be set but authorities to put regulations on some forms of torture that represented their mindsets. People agreed with the laws and now torture is only used on big crimes that go against the law. In the end, Europe then grew into a new and improved version of itself.

To understand clearer, torture existed for a variety of different reasons. Medieval Courts used this on victims of crimes. Torture was usually held by the State and excecuted by appointed officials or professionals. It mostly depended on the social status of the victim and the crime the vicitm is accused of to determine the torture device or method they must use. The victims also needed to already have “half-proof” to be tortured into admitting their crimes. They would show evidence by a witness showing the court or presenting their evidence to the crime. This shows that there is evidence showing that the victim is a major suspect to the crime and could confess under torture. It was known as an easier way to state whether a victim was guilty or not. To show whether the victim would confess their guilt. Although, some cases show that victims were tortured with no substantial evidence and for small crimes. The jury and the executioner can not rely on their decision on whether or not the crime ranks as torture. Torture was also known to be used to scare enemies into leaving their territory or to show their enemies how strong they are. They would usually capture a couple of soldiers from the opposing side and torture them to frighten their leaders and or their authorities. This was a common tactic used in many wars or disputes between two enemies. Most torture was conducted underground, away from society, in dungeons or tunnels. But in some cases there have been executions that were public and drew large crowds to form. Some forms of torutre was even considered to be entertainment where there were scheduled or well known people being executed. There was no legal regulation laid down on torture which caused any form of torture to be practiced. This then changed later due to the rise of witchcraft and new philosophies in the Age of The Enlightenment that brought people’s attention to their rights and nature.

One major cause of torture growing out of control and gaining in popularity would be the rise of witchcraft. Witchcraft rose and grew into a belief for some, but it’s known that mostly females were accused of being witches during this time. When you are accused of heresy, you are executed for going against the Church and their religion. Back then, in the time of witchcraft, anyone could be accused for witchcraft.Back then you or anyone could accuse someone for witchcraft and that person would be executed. Evidence was not very prominent at this time as the idea of witches and witchcraft went against the Church and intimidated the jury and the Court. In return, the jury and the Church would execute any witches included in any witch trials. During the Counter Reformation, which was the “peak” of witchcraft, about 50,000 people were accused and burned at the stake for heresy. Overall, about 80% of the people that were accused of witchcraft were women. Witchcraft then soon died out due to the Enlightenment bringing in new philosophies and beliefs that put witchcraft at a new perspective.

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The way The Enlightenment affected torture is simple. The Enlightenment was known as a European intellectual movement which emphasized god, reason, nature, and humanity. The Enlightenment furthered the production of new torture devices as well as furthering the development of human rights. Some Enlightenment ideas changed trial procedures and advocated the respect of human rights all throughout Europe. Arguing against the death penatly, opposing torture and public trials. The Enlightenment positively went for everyone’s rights and showed the negative part of torture and what they didn’t see. People praised these ideas as they wish for more rights rather than being controlled by the Church or authorities above them. The Enlightenment also affected the decline of witchcraft by the juries not doing any more witch trials due to their fear and the fact of new philosophies and ideologies taking the world over. It was a dismissal academically to still believe in witchcraft as it was seen as poor and illiterate. The decline in witchcraft was also a decline in torture as the rise of torture as mostly due to the rise of witchfcraft.

European society was also affected by torture psychologically. Society saw the State was an enemy in the case or torture. In the rise of torture, you could be tortured for practically anything. The people were scared of being tortured, or even going outside and possibly being tortured. They believed that if it’s wrong for a member of their society to harm another member, then why is it okay for the State to harm us. Society was also affected by witnessing many public torturing daily, public torturings would be held in great plazas so crowding places. The state and it’s society should be equal, and have great communication with each other but in this case, society was growing apart from the State as they saw it as a threat to their well being. The State didn’t seem to really care about their well being or their will to survive as there are pointless torturings going all around them. There are separations between the State and society, the Court and the Church were considered higher above Society as they were the ones mostly causing all of these torturings happening. Society was also divided with clergy and nobility at the top due to them having special treatment with the State and the commoners and working class at the bottoms due to them being taxed normally and having to deal with financial issues. In almost all ranking classes, it is usually separated like said previously. Along with the people who were tortured but never killed were considered insane due to them being afraid of authorities and to even go outside and witness a public torture and remember all that has happened. Torture effected society in this way, making society not want to obey the State as they are terried of their power.

Some laws were also laid down in the 1800s to try and abolish torture and it’s dangerous culture.

To conclude, torture effected Europe negatively as a whole. Society was affected due to the State and trust issues, the Enlightenment was both affected and effected torture, and many causes of torture and what torture cause was negative. Though, Europe transformed into a new society and a stronger country.

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The Effect Of Torture Methods On Society. (2021, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from
“The Effect Of Torture Methods On Society.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2021,
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