Torture methods and devices in Medieval times… How sick were these fools

“Fear is the basis of the whole - fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the
parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand-in-hand.”
Bertrand Russell

There are quite a few very very sick looking contraptions used to torture humans hundreds on years back in medieval europe… here is a list and a small run down of a few.

virgin spiked torture chamberThe name of this torture contraption / device or whatever we wanna call it… sick ass shit! Was built in Nuremberg. It had a ladies face carved on its front door. maybe to make it look pretty? Most of us know this as the Iron Maiden.

It was fitted with spikes on the inside that pierced different parts of the body but never transfixed vital organs in order to keep the victim alive, hanging upright, and still suffering untill they finally got thier wish and died.

The device would be opened both from the front and from the back side without the victim being able to get out. The container was so thick that no shriek could be heard from outside unless the doors were opened.

When the “virgin” doors were shut back, the spikes penetrated the same parts of the body and into the same wounds as before, inflicting a long and cruel agony.

The “saw” or ball saw as we can call it in modern times

torture by saw

garrotte-torture-device-2.jpgThe Garrotte

This device has a Spanish name because the official instrument of capital punishment and remained in use until 1975, yes guys… 1975. As a side note, the last man executed in this way was later found to be innocent of the charges against him.

This instrument has very ancient origins. It was originally made of a pole driven in the ground and a rope to tie up round the victim’s neck.

garrotte torture method medieval timesThis sort of torture was used all over the world. The Spanish version was used for execution. It had an iron collar that had an iron on its rear which penetrated the cervical vertebrae in a way that the convict died both for asphyxiation and because the spinal cord was crushed. Its kinda odd when death by hanging begins to look like a good option.

You are gonna love this one… the rectal pear… the name is enough to scare someone straight!

rectal pear tortureThe name comes from its shape. This thing had a mechanism by which it was progressively expanded to the maximum aperture of the two or three elements it was made of.

This instrument was forced into the mouth or rectum of male victims and into the vagina of female victims. The oral, rectal, or vaginal pear was inflicted on people guilty of sodomy, on women guilty of adultery, people guilty of incest or sexual union with Satan, and it was also inflicted on heretical preachers and blasphemers.

Guilty of a “sexual union with Satan? hmm?

Inquisitional Chair or spiked

Covered with spikes on the back, arms, seat, on the leg-rests, and on the foot-rests. So pretty much spikes all over this crazy thing.

torture or inquisitional chairTo make the spikes piercing the body even more effective and torturous, they also used a screw system.

The bars, either made of iron or wood, fastened the victim around the waist, around the wrists, and around the chest or bust.

The seat was often made of iron that could be heated. These implements were used in Germany up until the 19th century, in Italy and in Spain up until the end of the 1700s, in France and in other central European countries, according to certain sources, up until the end of 1800.

The “cats” paw or the “tickler”

tickler tortureThis instrument looks very much like a cat’s paw with very long and sharp claws. It was brutally used to rip the victim’s flesh to shreds. Because of the dimension of the claws, muscles and bones were no obstacle in this barbaric practice. It was, of course, inflicted on victims tied up hand and foot.

The torture mask or “mask of infamy”

torture maskThe mask of infamy brings about two different inflictions: a spiritual one and a physical one. The victims were both staked out to public ridicule and at the same time they were physically tortured.

The masks sometimes may have had inner devices, such as a ball, which were forced into the victim’s nose or into the mouth, thus preventing him or her from wailing and shrieking.

The mask with long ears represented a silly ass person, while the one with a snout or with a pig face symbolizes the animal being considered dirty.

The medieval “fork” torture method

man tortured with forkThis “fork” was made of two little forks, one set against the other and of which the points rammed into the flesh under the chin and over the chest.

A little collar supported the instrument to prevent any movement of the victim. The forks did not penetrate into vital points, so you did not die for quite some time, it was meant to prolong the torture and the suffering.

The victim’s hands were tied behind his back, he suffered that way up ’till he finally died.

Here is some more info about about the same medieval torture devices and a few others

Medieval Torture Devices

Reaching its peak in the 12th century, torture was used in capital cases as well as against suspected heretics, where from the mid-14th century to the end of the 18th century, it became a common and sanctioned part of the legal proceedings of most European countries approved by the inquisition in cases of heresy. The most common means of torture thus included burning, beating and suffocating, however, the techniques as followed are some of the more extravagant and depraved methods used and allowed by the Roman Catholic Church.

Torture room in the Inquisition cathedral in Nuremberg

The Rack

The Rack was an instrument of torture often used in the Middle Ages, and was a popular means of extricating confession. The victim was tied across a board by their ankles and wrists, rollers at either end of the board were turned by pulling the body in opposite directions until dislocation of every joint occurred. According to Puigblanch, quoted in Mason’s History of the Inquisition, “in this attitude he experienced eight strong contortions in his limbs, namely, two of the fleshy parts of the arms above the elbows, and two below; one on each thigh, and also on the legs.” Bound, the heretic could then be subjected to other forms of torture for the exaltation of their faith.

The Rack was extensively used during the Spanish Inquisition.

Other forms included the detainee being fastened in a groove upon a table on his or her back. Suspended above was a large pendulum, the ball of which consisted of a sharp edge on the lower section, with the pendulum lengthening with every stroke. The victim sees this engine of destruction swinging to and fro only a short distance from their eyes. Momentarily, the keen edge comes nearer, and at length cuts the skin, and gradually cuts deeper and deeper, until their life has fully expired.

The Stocks

With their feet in the stocks, two pieces of timber clamped together, over and under, both across each leg above the ankles. The soles of their feet then having been greased with lard, a blazing brazier was applied to them, and they were first blistered and then fried. At intervals a board was interposed between the fire and their feet and removed once they disobeyed the command to confess themselves of guilt for which they had been charged.

Being more painful, but less fatal than racking, this was the torture most in vogue when the subject chanced to be female. It was also favored in cases where children were to be persuaded to testify against their parents. Slighter tortures consisted of binding a piece of iron to a limb and putting a twister mark to force it inwards, as was pressing the fingers with rods between them, or removing a nail from fingers or toes, which were all practiced upon persons of not sufficient strength to support the pulley, rack, or fire.

Water Torture

The victim’s nostrils were pinched shut, and eight quarts of fluid were poured down the victim’s throat through a funnel. Other techniques included a forced cloth down the throat, while pouring water, which generated a swallowing reflex pushing it further down into the stomach lining producing all the agonies of suffocation by drowning until the victim lost consciousness. Instead of water, the torture was sometimes also conducted with boiling water or vinegar. Death occured from distention, or rupturing of the stomach. One of the many cases recorded by the Inquisition was in 1598, here concerning a captured man being accused as a werewolf and “possesed by a demon” while in prison. The offical report states only that he had such a thirst that he drank a large tubful of water so that his belly was “distended and hard”, and thus later died.


The Branks The Branks, also sometimes called Dame’s Bridle, or Scold’s Bridle comprised of a metal facial mask and spiked mouth depressor that was implemented on housewives up until the early 19th century. Many clergymen sustained in this husband’s right to handle his wife, and to use “salutary restraints in every case of misbehavior” without the intervention of what some court records of 1824 referred to as “vexatious prosecutions.” Generally, a husband would need only to accuse his wife of disagreeing with his decisions, at which the Branks could be applied. The subject would then be paraded through the streets, or chained to the market cross where she was exposed to public ridicule.

The Wheel

The wheel was one of the most popular and insidious methods of torture and execution practiced. The giant spiked wheel was able to break bodies as it rolled forward, causing the most agonizing and drawn-out death. Other forms include the “braided” wheel, where the victim would be tied to the execution dock or platform. Their limbs were spread and tied to stakes or iron rings on the ground. Slices of wood were placed under the main joints, wrists, ankles, knees, hips and elbows. The executioner would then smash every joint with the iron-tyred edge of the wheel–however the executioner would avoid fatal blows to give the victim a painful death. According to a German chronicler, the victim was transformed into a huge screaming puppet writhing in their own blood. It looked like a sea monster with four tentacles, and raw slimy shapeless flesh, mixed with splinters of bone. After this smashing had taken place, the victim would literally be “braided” into the wheel and hung horizontally at the top of the pole.

The Breast Ripper

The name of this device speaks for itself. Women condemned of heresy, blasphemy, adultery and witchcraft often felt the wrath of this device while it violently lacerated the breast from the torso. It was also implemented into service during the massacre of the Danes.

Hanging cages

These cages were usually hung around the outsides of town halls, ducal palaces, or near the town’s hall of justice. The victim, naked and exposed, would slowly wither from hunger and thirst. The weather would second the victims death by heat stroke and sunburn in the summer and cold in the winter. The victims and corpses were normally previously mutilated before being place inside the cage to make a more edifying example of the punishment. The cadavers were left in the cages until the bones literally fell apart.

The Garotte

Originally the garotte was simply hanging by another name. However, during Medieval times, executioners began to refine the use of rope until it became as feared and as vile as any serious punishments. Executioners first used the garotte to end the suffering of heretics broken on the wheel, but by the turn of the 18th century the seed of an idea involving slow strangulation was planted in the minds of lawmakers. At first, garottes were nothing more than an upright post with a hole bored through. The victim would stand or sit on a seat in front of the post and chanting crowd, and a rope was looped around his or her neck. The ends of the cords were fed through the hole in the post. The executioner would then pull on both ends of the cord, or twist them tourniquet-styled, slowly strangling the victim. Later modifications included a spike fixed into the wood frame at the back of the victim’s neck, parting the vertebrae as the rope tighten.

The Head Crusher

With the victim’s chin placed on the lower bar, a screw then forces the cap down on the victims cranium. The recipients teeth are crushed and forced into the sockets to smash the surrounding bone. The eyes are compressed from their sockets and brain from the fractured skull. This device, although not a form of capital punishment, is still used for interrogational purposes. It was to inflict extreme agony and shock and leave the victim in its grasp for hours. Other methods included the head screw (below) which was placed around the forehead and tighten. The accused became so frantic by the extreme panic of having their head crushed that they confessed to anything.


Burnt at the Stake

If the Inquisitor wanted to be sure no relics were left behind by an accused and convicted heretic, he would select death by burning at the stake as the preferred method of execution. With few exceptions, death came from being burned alive. Frequently, burning a victim at the stake was cause for a crowd. Not content to merely learn about the spectacle after it was over, the masses wanted to be entertained. Reflecting on those facts, and understanding such events occurred “under the law,” one can clearly understand how Thomas Hobbes (this is a contemporary biography) came to the conclusions he did about man in a state of nature. If man is capable of such violence and inhumanity in a state of civilization, of what is he capable when there are no laws and there is no society? (Carole D. Bos)

The Iron Maiden

The Iron Maiden or Virgin of Nuremberg was a tomb-sized container with folding doors. The object was to inflict punishment, then death. Upon the inside of the door were vicious spikes. As the prisoner was shut inside he or she would be pierced along the length of their body. The talons were not designed to kill outright. The pinioned prisoner was left to slowly perish in the utmost pain. Some models included two spikes that were driven into the eyes causing blindness. One of these diabolical machines was exhibited in 1892.

The Strappado

One of the most common torture techniques. All one needed to set up a strappado was a sturdy rafter and a rope. The victim’s wrists were bound behind their back, and the rope would be tossed over the beam. The victim was repeatedly dropped from a height, so that their arms and shoulders would dislocate. This was a punishment of the Secret Tribunal until 1820.

The Boots

Also known as the bootikens. The legs of the patient were usually placed between two planks of wood, which they binded with cords and wedges. The torturer used a large, heavy hammer to pound the wedges, driving them closer together. Forceful blows were used to squeeze the legs to jelly, lacerating flesh, protruding the shins, and crushing the bones; sometimes so that marrow gushed out. Once unloosed the bones fall to pieces, rendering the legs useless. This torture was most overwhelming, as one can imagine.

Judas Cradle

The victim was stripped, hoisted and hung over this pointed pyramid with iron belts. Their legs were stretched out frontwards, or their ankles pulled down by weights. The tormentor would then drop the accused onto the pyramid penetrating both orifices. With their muscles contracted, they were usually unable to relax and fall asleep. As mentioned by Anne Barstowe, The torturers took high advantage of positions of authority to indulge in the most pornographic sessions of sexual control over heretics.

The Guillotine

The Guillotine became the official instrument of execution in France in 1792, during the French Revolution. The device was named for Joseph Ignace Guillotine (1738-1814), a member of the Revolutionary assembly. He regarded the device as a quick and merciful type of execution. A guillotine had two posts joined by a crossbeam at the top. A heavy steel knife with a slanting edge fit in grooves in the posts. A cord held the knife in place. When the executioner cut the cord, the knife dropped and cut off the victim’s head. It was not until 1981, that France abolished capital punishment, and that the use of the guillotine ended. The Guillotine family were later forced to change their surname’s as a direct result of this invention.

Thats some really sick and srewed up shit above… that guilitine really does look like the humane method of execution for sure

here are a few more pictures of some very sick and twisted medieval torture devices and chambers

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