What is PEINE FORTE ET DURE?

L. Fr. In old English law. A special form of punishment for those who, being arraigned for felony, obstinately “stood mute;” that is, refused to plead or to put themselves upon trial. It is described as a combination of solitary confinement, slow starvation, and crushing the naked body with a great load of iron. This atrocious punishment was vulgarly called “pressing to death.” See 4 Bl. Comm. 324-328; Britt. cc. 4, 22; 2 Reeve, Eng. Law, 134; Cowell.

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