VIA| It’s no secret that torture in medieval times was particularly nasty. Not content with just killing their criminals and traitors, the powers-that-be often commanded public humiliations or extreme torture to extract further information from the damned.
Genuinely some of the most ghastly contraptions ever created, these torture devices will give you nightmares for weeks. If you’re afraid of a little blood and core it might be best to turn back now…
Here are 16 of the worst medieval torture devices, with a little guidance on how they were used to inflict maximum pain and suffering.
1. Head Crusher
Fitted with a screw that would turn slowly until the jaw and skull were shattered, eventually causing the person’s eyes to pop out. Gross.
2. Cradle of Judas
The name sounds so ominous, that you know it’s going to hurt A LOT. Torturers placed the naked victim’s anus or vagina atop the pyramid and slowly lowered their body using ropes until the cavity was stretched, eventually impaling them.
3. Cat’s Paw
Used mainly to rip apart human flesh, tearing it right from the bone. Often the person would die from infection, a result on unwashed spikes on the device.
4. The Rack
Arguably the most famous medieval torture device; each of the victim’s limbs were fitted into ropes and then stretched by the turning of handles. This caused broken bones or sometimes total detachment. It got worse later on, after the device was modified to include a bed of rusty nails. Talk about rubbing salt into the wound.
5. The Wheel
Also caused the Catherine Wheel, victims were abused in many different ways. Sometimes their limbs were bludgeoned by iron bars, sometimes a fire would be lit under the wheel, with victims burning slowly. The victim was almost always left alive on the wheel to be picked apart by birds.
6. Knee Splitter
Does what it says on the tin. Designed like a vice, this one was used to destroy limbs. Sometimes heat was added to the wooden spikes to make the experience all the more painful.
7. Spanish Donkey
Victim was placed naked as if straddling a horse. Varying amounts of weight were then placed on the victim’s feet pulling them downward, often resulting in the person splitting in half. Not a nice way to go.
8. Crocodile Tube
A victim’s feet or face (sometimes both) were placed inside this tube. The torturer would then heat the tube, mutilating the poor person inside. Sometimes people didn’t survive the intense pain of this grotesque method. Hardly surprising.
9. Brazen Bull
Victim were placed inside the large brass bull while a fire was lit beneath it. The person inside would often then die of extreme burns of asphyxiation. The device was designed in such a way that the victim’s screams were amplified and made to sound like a raging ox.
10. Crocodile Shears
Hold your crown jewels gents, cause this one is nasty. This device was used to repeatedly clamp down on a man’s penis, causing him to bleed out and die. That one is just twisted.
11. Saw Torture
Often preferred because saws were easy to procure (everybody had one) and use, this punishment was truly brutal. Tied upside down (this made sure the victim stayed conscious for as long as possible), the victim was sawed up to his abdomen and left to die slowly and painfully.
Simple, but brutally effective. In short, a sharp pole is pushed, bottom upwards, through the victim’s body. It could take the victim three days to die. The legendary Vlad the Impaler often used to sit and eat a tasty meal while his victims lingered between life and death. Morbid chap eh?
13. Coffin Torture
Victims were locked inside a metal cage and hung from a tree or gallows. Fat people were often forced inside ‘coffins’ too small for their body to increase discomfort. Bystanders would often throw rocks, while birds pecked at the dying criminals eating their flesh.
14. The Breast Ripper
Look away now ladies, cause this one is a real toe-curler. Often used on women accused of adultery, the device was heated and place on a victim’s breast, with the spikes penetrating the skin. Painful to the extreme, if victims didn’t die then they would be scarred for life.
15. The Pear of Anguish
Another one with an ominous name, the brutal instrument was used to torture women who performers abortions, liars and homosexuals. Inserted into an orifice, the device had four leaves which separated as the torturer turned the screw. This would tear the skin at the very least, often mutilating the victim before another torture method was used.
16. Scold’s Bridle
Primarily used on women, this iron muzzle was usually covered in spikes. That way, if the victim tried to walk they would be in serious pain.
These medieval types weren’t scared of getting their hands dirty were they? Impalement, sawing people in half, crushing penises and breasts – it doesn’t pain a pretty picture of life during those times. Probably all the more reason to stay on the right side of the law.