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Info point 19: The dungeon

Prison for serious crimes

The small dark room located in the basement of the tower served as a prison for those who committed serious crimes. Their fate was decided by the captain assisted by elected judges, and the trials took place in the settlement lodge. For more serious offenses, rigorous punishments included cutting off the tongue or the limbs, temporary or lifelong persecution, and a sentence to rowing on a Venetian galley, while for the most heinous crimes such as murder, witchcraft, or heresy, even the death penalty was used. The executions were carried out on the square as a warning to other inhabitants and they were only allowed to be carried out with the permission of the owner himself. The legal system allowed the accused the right to appeal to a higher authority – the owners of the feud in Venice.

Other penalties

Other penalties were also very severe. Thus, for example, those who dared to commit blaspheme or curse God or the Virgin Mary would be punished by a fine of one hundred lire and six months of imprisonment. In the case of a repeated offense, the fine would be doubled, and the offender would be publicly punished with two jerks on a pulley. This harmless but painful punishment was a favourite method of torture on both sides of the Adriatic. The accused would be put on his back, with his wrists tied, and then lifted off the ground on a high set pulley only to be released so that the rope would jerk him vehemently. If the accused repeated the same offense for the third time, his tongue would be cut off and he would be sentenced to exile for a period of five years.