Top 10 Worst Medieval Torture Devices & Methods
The Middle Ages were truly not for the faint of heart. Most people were peasants and dirt poor. They lived short, brutal existences, and the peasants had few rights to speak of.
And did we mention the torture? I’m not talking about waterboarding here. This stuff was brutal. Some people got really creative in figuring out innovative ways to cause as much slow agony as possible in human beings.
Our top ten is below. We judged our torture devices on a 30 point scale, with a maximum of 10 points given in the following categories:
Originality – How much imagination did it take for the sickos to devise the given torture?
Pain – Merely terrible or absolutely agonizing and worse?
Duration – Would the torture cause death in mere hours, or days?
A higher score than 30 IS possible however. Occasionally, we award extra bonus points for real, unique inspiration in the field of torture. So the highest score can exceed 30. It takes talent, though!
10. The Breast Ripper
This was used as a particularly horrific torture for sinful and/or deceitful women. The claws of this horrific instrument were put on the subject’s breasts. They often were heated to be red hot. They were then yanked to either tear off or shred the woman’s breasts. If the victim didn’t perish, she was horribly disfigured for life.
The typical technique of psychos such as Vlad the Impaler was to have your buddy sit on a very sharp pole. The pole would penetrate the anus and the abdomen. The pole would be put upright and the poor SOB would slide down the pole. Sometimes, the pole would rip through the breast plate. The tip of the spear might lodge under the chin so that the person could slide no more. It’s reported it could take 1-3 days for the person to expire.
8. The Breaking Wheel
BONUS POINT for the birds eating out the eyeballs – nice!
The idea here was to tie the poor victim to a wooden wheel. The wheel would be turned and the torturer would crush the victim’s limbs and joints with an iron hammer or club. They would be completely shattered. After that, the victim was left to die on the wheel. For extra fun, often the wheel would be put on a pole so the birds would flutter down and have a meal of the victim’s eyes and other soft parts. 2-3 days was the normal time to death.
7. Torture By Saw
Originality : 9
BONUS POINT for affordability – makes this torture easy for anyone, no special equipment needed
The victim was tied upside down, in part so that the blood would rush to his or her head. This would make sure the person stayed conscious for the maximum time. It also would slow the loss of blood. Typically, the person was cut as far as the abdomen so that it took longer to die. Death normally came in mere hours.
6. Knee Splitter
The idea of this sadistic invention was to destroy the knees and other joints. As the torturer turned the handle, the sharp points destroyed and mutilated any part of the body that was placed there. It didn’t often cause death, merely horrific pain and terrible disfigurement. But it often was just the appetizer for more awful and deadly forms of torture.
5. Judas Cradle
This may not be quite as bloody and violent as impalement, but it gets major points for originality and the all-around agony factor. The anus or vagina of the unfortunate victim was put over the point of the cradle. Then the person was lowered onto it with ropes. The idea here is to slowly stretch the orifice over hours or days. The victim usually had on no clothes and sometimes for extra fun they would put some weights on his or her ankles. For extra cruelty, the cradle wasn’t washed. That way the victim could catch a really terrible infection.
4. The Rack
BONUS POINT for the spikes in the back – the psychological horror of being paralyzed is a nice addition
This hideous machine had a wood frame with two ropes on the bottom and two more at the top. As the torturer would crank the handle, the ropes would pull the victim’s arms and legs. This would cause them to dislocate terribly and would eventually be ripped off the body. Later editions of the rack had steel spikes added on the bed. This would ensure that the victim’s spine also would be torn apart, causing paralysis.
3. Head Crusher
This horrible device was used frequently during the Spanish Inquisition. The victim’s chin was put on the bar on the bottom and his head beneath the cap on the top. The torturer would then turn the screw and press the bar and cap together. This would compress the skull, shattering the victim’s teeth. The compression would continue for hours. Eventually the eyeballs would pop out of the sockets.
2. Rat Torture
BONUS POINT for affordability; to cause pain and rage, all you need’s just a rat in a cage.
What could be so terrible about some rats? They’re cute, right? Well, imagine this: your hands and feet are tied down, and your stomach is covered with a metal container with a rat inside. The container is slowly heated, and the rat rips through your digestive tract to escape.
1. Brazen Bull
BONUS POINT for effort. Whoever thought this up and built it is a sick and highly motivated genius.
What a horrible way to go: the victim is placed inside a large, hollow, metal bull and locked inside. A fire is lit beneath it, and the victim slowly burns to death. The ancient Greeks also used this device. They created a bunch of tubes around the head so that the agonized screams of the victim would sound somewhat like an angry bull.
Written By Joseph Pickett