The Disturbing History of the Pear of Anguish Torture Device

Warning: Content may not be Suitable for Young Children.

The medieval era did a lot of innovation when it came to torturing people. During this period, various torture devices were designed for the specific torture of both men and women. Among these, the Pear of Anguish stands out as a medieval torture device that was exclusively designed for women

Such was the design of this device, that getting to know about it sent shivers down my spine. Simply imagining people being tortured on this device of extreme notoriety turned out to be a disturbing experience for me. 

What is the Pear of Anguish?

The Pear of Anguish, also known as choke pear or mouth pear, is a torture device based on mechanisms of unknown use from the early modern period.

The instrument consists of a pear-shaped metal body divided into spoon-like segments that can be spread apart with a spring or by turning a key.

The body of the pear device was made of four metal leaves joined at the hook at its top. It was used as a torture device, inserted into the mouth, rectum, or v*gina, and then expanded to gag or mutilate the victim.

What was the Pear of Anguish used For?

The Pear of Anguish was mainly used during the Spanish Inquisition. It was designed in different ways depending on which body part it was to be used. And the nature of crime decided which body part was to be tortured

It is believed that the more serious the crime, the more intense the torture. Choke pears, for example, were used anally for those accused of homosexuality. 

Women facing accusations of inducing miscarriage would have the instrument inserted into their vagina. Liars endured the torture device in the mouth.

How Does The Pear of Anguish Work?

As you explore the inner workings of the Pear of Anguish, you uncover a chilling instrument used extensively during that time. Different variations of the pear were created to focus on distinct body parts

When set in motion, this device looked like the shape of a pear and could be expanded through the use of a screw or spring mechanism. This mechanism generated a lot of pressure within the body. 

The Pear of Anguish normally had pointed points, designed to tear into the throat, cervix, or intestines of the victim, often resulting in fatal results.

Pear Of Anguish – Painful Torture

The Pear of Anguish torture device inflicted a lot of pain, and it didn’t take long to extract a confession from a woman of being a witch or any other crime using this torture device. This medieval torture device was usually made of hard iron.

The goal of the device was not to puncture the flesh, which could lead to fatal bleeding. Instead, the device was meant to stretch the anus as much as possible. The more it stretched and ripped the skin, the more it destroyed the sensitive nerve endings and produced searing agony for the victim.

The Truth about the Pear of Anguish

The exact origins of the Pear of Anguish remain unclear, making it difficult to say when exactly it was created and who created it.

But you can find the earliest mentions in the 1639 French publication titled “L’Inventaire général de l’histoire des larrons,” or “General Inventory of the History of Thieves.” According to this source, the pear was reportedly created by a robber who lived during the rule of King Henri IV. 

Its origin might not be clear, but there is clear evidence of its use through time. Some contemporary museums even exhibit a device like the Pear of Anguish. This indicates that it was indeed real. 

Museum des Lebuser Landes in Zielona Góra, Poland, and the Museum der Festung in Salzburg, Austria are a few that exhibit this device.


The Pear of Anguish was a grotesque and sinister tool used to torment women in the Middle Ages. However, scholars have argued whether this device was actually used in the form of torture or not.

But, the device found in torture museums throughout Europe, invariably crafted with an artistic flourish, proves that their purpose was to torment.

Also, check out two more INFAMOUS Medieval Torture Devices- “The Wooden Horse Torture – Most Horrific Torture Method” and “CRUELTY UNVEILED: THE DARK LEGACY OF THE BRAZEN BULL TORTURE“.

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