Skazka (supercrook) wrote in little_details,

Questions about Renaissance torture and consummation of a marriage

The setting is a somewhat fictionalized Renaissance Italy, within the general time frame of the last decade of the 15th century. My MC is an aristocratic man in his early 20s, previously able-bodied, though he has some hereditary emotional instability.

This character's been subjected to unspecified torture by a political rival, and I'm trying to work out some specifics. Torture took place in a fully functional well-stocked chamber designated for this purpose, under "professional" supervision -- the aim was to cause this character pain, and possibly leave disabling after-effects, but not to specifically kill him, nor to extract a confession. I'm looking specifically for things which would have long-term effects and difficult healing, as well as being psychologically traumatic without leaving him, for example, entirely without the use of multiple limbs.

There's an abundance of information out there about historical implements of torture, but few of them seem appropriate to the time period and some seem entirely fanciful. (The ones actually shown are of the extremely unpleasant "large and/or sharp objects inserted into bodily orifices" variety.)

I've been thinking broken fingers to start with-- which can be achieved with a specialized implement or with more basic methods, and which don't heal easily. More general beatings are also likely, along with pre-existing starvation. There's also branding and cutting as an option, but I'm having a hard time thinking of things that would remain survivable, even with physicians attending to make sure he remains alive and as conscious as possible. The torture wasn't prolonged -- a few days rather than a few weeks -- but it was intense.

Second question partially related, but not entirely -- about two or three years later, this character is pressed into a marriage for allegiance purposes. The marriage is somewhat rushed, and he hasn't had the opportunity to physically recover completely, though lasting discomfort is now livable-but-chronic, rather than acute pain requiring constant medical attention. He's sexually disinterested in general, and might be impotent (for psychological reasons rather than physical).

His wife has already had one marriage annulled, supposedly due to impotence on her first husband's part. Since it's strictly a power-brokering union, the bride is privately understood to not be a virgin, and it's in her father's interests to have affairs remain manipulable in his favor, how intense is the pressure going to be that they do consummate their marriage, and how soon? I remember reading a few sources with letters approvingly discussing a groom's performance on his wedding night, as if to assure the recipient that everything was in order with the new union. But by what means would this information be gathered? Would there be witnesses to the actual consummation, either present or nearby, material evidence (the traditional image of blood-stained sheets), or the groom and other interested parties' word that yes, intercourse had occurred? I could probably fudge this for my own purposes, but this is an area I know next to nothing about. If it makes any difference, where this is actually taking place will be supervised by the bride's family, not the groom's.

Terms Googled: "broken fingers healing", "broken fingers + swelling", "finger fracture recovery", "finger fracture recovery time", "renaissance torture", "renaissance torture methods", and similar variations.

I've also checked out Whumper's Guide and the "torture" tag here on little_details. (The only sites I could find regarding implements of torture, including OccasionalHell, didn't seem conclusive. Many of them were also mostly concerned with the Middle Ages/Inquisition.

For the latter question: various permutations of "marriage annulment infirmity renaissance", "marriage consummation renaissance", and so on. I've only read about the matter of consummation in passing in other works, and Googling got me a lot of results about modern Roman Catholicism and annulment.
Tags: 1400-1499, italy: history, ~marriage, ~renaissance, ~torture
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