An iron maiden (German Eiserne Jungfrau) is a torture device, usually an iron cabinet, with a hinged front. It usually has a small closable opening so that the torturer can interrogate the victim and torture or kill a person by piercing the body with sharp objects (such as knives, spikes or nails), while he or she is forced to remain standing. The condemned would bleed profusely and weaken slowly, eventually dying because of blood loss, or perhaps asphyxiation. Most iron maidens were made so the sharp points did not pierce vital organs, thus not immediately killing a person, in order to drag out the torturous death. The process involved the victim being locked inside the device by heavy padlocks, and was usually checked on every few hours to see whether the victim had died. The iron maiden is often associated with the Middle Ages, but in fact was not invented until the late 18th century: Accounts of the iron maiden cannot be found from any period older than 1793, although medieval torture devices were elaborately catalogued with horrified fascination during the Age of Enlightenment.