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Peine Forte et Dure

A species of torture applied to contumacious felons. In the reign of Henri IV. the accused was pressed to death by weights; in later reigns the practice prevailed of tying the thumbs tightly together with whipcord, to induce the accused to plead. The following persons were pressed to death by weights:- Juliana Quick, in 1442; Anthony Arrowsmith, in 1598; Walter Calverly, in 1605; Major Strangways, in 1657; and even in 1741 a person was pressed to death at the Cambridge assizes. Abolished 1772.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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More on Peine Forte et Dure from Infoplease:

  • Peine Forte et Dure - Peine Forte et Dure A species of torture applied to contumacious felons. In the reign of Henri IV. ...
  • Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: P - Definitions, origins, and illustrative excerpts for words, phases, and literary allusions starting with "P"

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