Turma Under the Town Hall Tower, Biecz

Turma – the medieval prison in the town hall tower – consists of two rooms and a dungeon. The room above the dungeon was also a torture chamber. Although also a city official, the executioner was directly connected to the Magdeburg Law judicial system and was subordinate to the wójt (chief borough official). To become a qualified executioner, one had to pass through the lower levels of apprenticeship in this craft. The executioner's official title was ‘master of holy justice’. The lower rank was 'torturer' – the executioner's helper. This is probably the source of the legend of the executioner school in Biecz. References to it can be found in the History of Poland from 1740, where it was written: ‘Before, in this city, executioners would arise.’ Biecz was granted the right of the sword (ius gladii) – the right to sentence to and carry out capital punishment – beginning in the 14th century. The dungeons held the condemned until their execution. Beheadings were carried out at the Biecz market square, next to the town hall. The gallows outside the city walls were another place of execution, but it was used for executing evildoers from the lowest levels of society. 17th-century inscriptions made by prisoners on the walls of the town hall's underground survive to this day: names, dates, initials, time spent imprisoned.


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