Author reappraises the use of torture in the Middle Ages

"All brutality aside, the criminal law of the day was also concerned with the salvation of the convicted criminal," writes German legal scholar Wolfgang Schild in his new book Purification Through Pain: A Fresh Look at Torture in the Middle Ages.

In his book, Schild hopes to soften the medieval depiction of torture by showing it as a means to bring the sinner right with God. Many descriptions from centuries past were "distorted and exaggerated to make the past seem particularly dark and the present more radiant," says Schild.