The ruins of a castle and prison built by Alfonso of Aragon in 1441, up there on top of the rock at Ischia Ponte, are nice to vist on a sunny afternoon. But be prepared. In a museum, in which photographs are not permitted to be taken, you may see things that are unpleasant. Verrrry unpleasant.
Here are some excerpts in English from the museum’s brochure:
“Coming down in the torture chamber on the right side there are exposed: a nailed collar that pretended from sleep, a pale of death, a leg screw, a chest clamp and a guillotine which is a French execution tool, proposed of I.F. Guillotin and used in France from 1791 until the end of the French Revolution.
“There is also a ‘stand with enjoying rat’ and a Spanish garotte that was invented in 1850 and brought a rather slowly death because the strangling was done step by step.
“Directly in front you see now a pillory, in that the condemned was locked up for mockery of all others for 7 days. At the ceiling append the cage of death: a metal cage where the condemned was locked up and ws hanged at a tower of the castle, where one let him starve in the focial point of the population.
“Also noteworth are the chastity belts for man and woman.”
“Finally in the showcase are exposed instruments of torture most different like a whip (nine-tail cat), a loop for hanging, a clamp to ear the tongue, a clamp to break fingers, a clamp to dislocate the jaw, crucifixion nails, axes for amputations, iron stamps to add combustion at the plant of the feet, breast or back, a nailed rake so smash the shoulders, a spoon to scratch eyes out.
“The torture was introduced in the term of Middle Age; from 467 AD until the end of the 18th century children under 14 years, old people over 70 years as well as pregnant women may not be tortured. The condemned had to undergo to an hour of torture which the was paused for 24 hours. These rules were always almost disregarded, so that crimes not confessed were inspected in order to escape the torture.
“Even the Tridentina Church during the period of the Inquisition adopted the torture in the comparisons of the heretical. Everything shown here is part of the deplorable but true history.”
After the museum you may go down a staircase to the basement of the Convent of St. Clare, a religious order founded by Clare of Assisi in the 12th century. There you will see carved stone seats upon which the corpses of nuns were placed to rot. The still living brides of Christ were regularly brought into that dark, smelly chamber to witness what fate befalls all mortal human beings.
Now, below the cut are some reproductions of illustrations of various forms of torture that took place in the prison until about 160 years ago. I post them as a reminder that barbaric practices like these remain an officially unacknowledged policy of the US Government under the leadership of George Bush and Dick Cheney.
Here is additional commentary from the museum's brochure:
In this ancient place of guard constructed in 1441 from Alfonso of Aragon there is a collection of arms from the Middle Age an 19th century as well as tools of torture and execution of 1300 to 1850. Entering to your left, there are exposed: a French halberd of the 15th century, a Swiss halberd of the 14th century, of the 13th century an Italian halberd and finally from Germany a halberd of the 16th century. Two lances from the cavalry are also shown. You also see three axes: on top an axe from the wars of the 16th century.
The second one is an axe from the wars of the 13th century. The third is different to the others an axe used for woodworking. Quarrel axes were used during the whole Middle Age because their blows succeeded to break off shields and armors and to bring wounded mortals. At last you see a nailed ball which was employed above all to remove the enemy of his shield. Almost all medieval weapons did not hit the opponent with the top but the sword - because of their gravity.
A catapult you see now in front of you: an arm that allowed to fling burningprojectiles, bullets and metal splinters over a large distance.
In the next showcase you can see four helmets of most different kind. Of the 15th century you can see a net that served to protect the head which wore a helmet. Consider now an Italian armor of the 16th century which weighs about 35 kg. The knight who wore the armor must to be able to participate in tournaments hoisted on the horse. It is no armor for fight, because worn them once, the knight was limited in the movements. The armors for combat were much lighter: helmet, breast and spice card, as well as elbow and kneeling protection.
There are also two spanish costumes: lady and courtier.
In the second room firearms are exposed on the right side, from this, two rifled and front-charger, one with Hint. The shooting range of these arms was between 25 and 100 m. In order to complete the collection there are series of sabres of the 19th century, with ornaments on steel swords and grips of bone and metal. Such sabres 1 were lighter as the mediveal arms so the opponent was hit and speared mainly with the top.
Further you see the genealogical trees and images of the kings of Naples and Sicily (Normans, Swede, Angioni and Aragonesi), taken from the original book of Antonio Summonte (ed. 1748), an neapolitan historican.