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The Iron Maiden was a medieval torture device as well as an unforgettable execution method that has since become a staple of fiction, often found in the dungeons of sadistic tyrants or malevolent judges, and these devices of the same name hold a special place of terror in the hearts of many audiences and have featured in countless media over the years.
The Iron Maiden itself is often designed to be a hollowed out figure of a woman in which a victim is placed and then impaled by many iron spikes that can be found on the inside - sealing them in the spike-filled "coffin".
This notorious contraption is known by other names, such as the Virgin (a reference to the Virgin Mary of Abrahamic faiths), and Jungfer (German for spinster).
A victim would be forced inside the iron maiden and would be impaled by the spikes when the torture device was shut.
Although the iron maiden is commonly associated with the Middle Ages (often publicly referred to as the so-called "Dark Ages"), there is no account of it being used during that period, thus calling into question the claim that it was actually used as a torture device back then.Torture devices similar to the iron maiden, however, have been described in texts written prior to these medieval times. As an example, in Saint Augustine of Hippo’s "City of God", there is an account of Marcus Atilius Regulus, a Roman general who was tortured to death by the Carthaginians. In his work, Saint Augustine wrote that Regulus was locked in a box with nails in it. The nails, however, did not pierce the general unless he fell asleep. Therefore, Regulus kept himself awake and finally died of sleep deprivation.