Iron Maiden

Medieval executioners and their helpers worked using the town torture chamber and a pillory.

Iron Maiden Medieval executioners and their helpers worked using the town torture chamber and a pillory. Those delinquents that ended on display on the pillory with only broken legs and arms, were lucky. The way from the gallows led directly to the cemetery otherwise. As long as the cemetery wall neighbored with the cathedral on the Pilsen square, there was said to be an iron circle attached to the wall. It was situated on the right, next to the main entrance to the cathedral. The circle could easily clasp the neck of a delinquent. The person was thus made to stand there for a certain amount of time, measured by the town council.

The most cruel tool of the Pilsen torture chamber was the iron maiden. It was ordered by the Pilseners as a copy of the Norimberk original. According to the witness of the last Pilsen town hall keeper from the year 1878, there was once a man killed when tortured inside the iron maiden. Later, it came out that the victim had been innocent. The news reached the Czech king who immediately ordered the iron maiden to be destroyed. The order was executed instantly.

There is a certain coincidence of the story with a record from 1874. It reads that a man dressed in black clothes was haunting the house in Sedlackova 251. He kept appearing at midnight and disappeared with the strike of the first morning hour. Old Pilsen citizens of the period could remember that the man used to be a mayor of Pilsen. Once he had had an innocent girl tortured to death, therefore he could not rest in peace in his grave after he died. The spell could only be broken if a male descendant of the dead girl’s family became a priest and served a mass for the salvation of the black man’s soul.

It seems that the condition was fulfilled because the haunting man stopped appearing with time.

The last town hall keeper witnessed and recorded in following words the disappearance of torturing tools that took place at the turning of the 1850 and 1860s. In the old town storehouse, in which ancient torturing tools were kept, an unshapely cradle was also found. It was unusually huge. Its purpose was rather curious: it was used whenever the town council found a man guilty of seduction of a young girl. As a punishment, the seducer was then exhibited in public in the cradle, placed on the right side of the town hall, by the pillory.

At the time of the mayor Wanka the tools from the torture chamber were purchased to an owner of a panorama. The cradle was chopped as a fuel.

The Golden Book of Pilsen Legends by Vladimir Havlic was published by the publishing house Vesely in 1995. The book was written at the base of Schiebl’s collection Pilsen in Tale, Legend, Tradition, and Wit. The book by Vladimir Havlic was published with the financial support of Ceska sporitelna, a.s., Pilsen dept., at the occasion of the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of foundation of Pilsen.