The year was 1626 and a husband and wife were sleeping peacefully in their warm bed, oblivious to the fact an exceptionally cruel and completely unhinged thief was about to change their lives forever. The sleeping couple, who’d enjoyed comfort and wealth all their lives, were in for a terrible shock.
They were about to be confronted by a man who was not only going to take all their valuables, but he was going to introduce them to one of the most evil devices known to man. It is known as the Choke Pear, but we think its alternate name is more fitting given the pain it inflicted on its victims. That name is the Pear of Anguish, and today dear viewers you are going to see just how horrifying this small contraption must have been to those that wore it. Let’s get back to the sleeping couple.
They were awakened by the thief, whose intention was not to silently rob the pair and make off into the night but to wake them and demand to know where they were hiding their most valuable belongings. To do this, he had to get them to talk, but he’d never had much success chopping off fingers and smacking people around the face. It was his good fortune then that he had recently been introduced to a new method of ensuring cooperation. A while back he’d met a fellow thief in a tavern, a thief who said he’d always had a 100 percent success rate in extracting information from his victims.
The man explained that to get people to talk it wasn’t not good enough just beating them up a bit. What was required was a device so brutal the very thought of it would get people talking in seconds. If they didn’t immediately talk, the solution was simple, start the device at notch one. The man explained that no one, absolutely no one, could endure notch two. So, the thief woke up the couple and in no uncertain terms, he told them that they needed to take him to the stash of jewels he knew they had hidden. Not surprisingly, the husband said there was no stash. “Just take what you see and please leave us in peace,” he told the robber.
After uttering those words, the thief pulled something out of a bag. The man and his wife had no idea what they were looking at. It looked like a pear, a pear made from metal connected to some kind of a key. The thief calmly explained to them, and we should say with some amount of relish, that in a minute or two one of them would be trying on the device. The woman screamed just thinking about that, which helped the thief to make his decision regarding who would first experience his dear Pear of Anguish. We won’t explain what happened next.
Your imagination should be able to come up with the rest of that story. If you just can’t see how that thief might have gotten the information he wanted, you’ll soon find out. The Pear of Anguish wasn’t something to be taken lightly. It was sometimes only used as a gag, but if that screw was ever turned a few times the results could literally be jaw-dropping. The question is, did that ever happen. Was it ever used in a Hollywood horror kind of way? Some folks think yes, others think no.
First, we need to talk about the earliest recorded uses of this terrible pear. Some of the contraptions are sitting in museums today, but the evidence of their use is somewhat scant. Still, we have some evidence to work with. There’s a book that was written in 1639 by a French author named F. de Calvi.
The book in English is translated as, “General inventory of the history of thieves.” In this book, the writer states that the pear was invented by a well-known thief named Gaucherou de Palioly. The writer explains that Palioly used the device when robbing wealthy Parisians, although Calvi doesn’t say that the victims had their jaws broken apart, only that it was used as a very scary type of gag.
There’s more evidence of this device being used for robberies, but outside of France. In the 1811 book, “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” it’s written that the pear was used to extort people in Holland. Another book written at the end of the 19th century called the “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable” also includes a passage describing how Dutch criminals would put the pear in a victim’s mouth and then demand a certain amount of money.
What’s frightening is that the book explains that on some devices the key was detachable, so if the criminal wanted, he would leave the pear in the victim’s mouth. Without the key, it was very hard or impossible to remove. That’s why cash could be extorted. Such a torture instrument may have made its way around the United States sometime during the 19th century but that’s debatable. A detective working in Boston at the end of the 1800s admitted that pears as gags had been used in the U.S., but he noted that they weren’t quite as cruel as the gags that had been used in Europe.
The detective wrote that the American pear was “far less marvelous and dangerous than the pear of Palioly.” The U.S. Pear of Anguish was likely comparable to a pool ball or a sock. Ok, now for something more gruesome. It’s said that during Medieval Times the pear was used to extract confessions from people accused of being witches. In this case, most of the people who faced the pear were women. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how else such an instrument could have caused immense pain and even death.
The human body has a number of orifices other than the mouth, and it’s those places where the pear was sometimes inserted, or at least that’s a tale that has been told. Once the key was turned the petals opened and the woman would suffer unimaginably. Often the petals would have spikes attached to them to cause extensive internal damage. We know this because of the artifacts that you can find today in torture museums. Those artifacts are very much real, but as you’ll see, they are also questionable. Men it seems might also suffer from similar torture, except the orifice of choice in their case was the entrance at the backside. The outcome of the torture was similar: Immense pain, internal damage, heavy blood loss, and possibly death.
This is what we can hear about the Pear of Anguish when visiting certain museums, although in the 2014 book “The Pear of Anguish: Torture, Truth and Dark Medievalism” the writer states that there’s no proof this ever happened. He goes as far as to say that some of the devices still around today were actually built after Medieval Times, so like some other torture devices we’ve talked about in the past, such as the Iron Maiden, they may have been created for the scare-factor only, to show more modern people how brutish and backward people were in the past. Nonetheless, during our research, we found sources stating that the pears were used on blasphemers or even liars, and in those cases, the mouth was the place the torture took place.
The same sources say that if a woman purposefully miscarried, she might also face the pear, but the location it was inserted into was her vagina. As for a man, if he was accused of being homosexual, he might have been brutalized by the pear, but the location was his anus. There seems little doubt that the Pear of Anguish was used by thieves in Europe, but if they were ever employed by torturers in Medieval Times is up for debate. It’s highly likely that the French thief we talked about had his very own Pear of Anguish and there’s little doubt some Dutch criminals used them, but historians these days argue that pears expanding in men and women’s lower orifices in the Middle Ages was possibly an invention of propagandists writing in the 19th century about the terrible past.
One historian writes that the surviving devices you can currently find around the world would not have been sturdy enough to cause the internal damage we have talked about, although he admits that they could have certainly expanded an orifice and caused a certain degree of discomfort. Now you need to watch this, “Iron Maiden – Worst Punishments in the History of Mankind.” Or, have a look at this, “Drawn and Quartered – Worst Punishments In History of Mankind.”