The Medieval period has to be one of the cruelest junctures in human history, judging by the creativity of their torture and their torture devices. Here are 10 of the most feared torture devices devised during the period.
10. The Brazen Bull
The condemned were shut in the bull and a fire was set under it, heating the metal until it became yellow hot and causing the person inside to roast to death.
9. The Spanish Tickler
It’s a very simple instrument that was used to tear a victim’s skin apart. Due to its shape, neither bones nor muscles were spared. The victim was naked and tied making him or her completely defenseless. Then the torturers began the (sometimes public) act of mutilating the victim. They often began with the limbs and slowly moved into the chest, back, neck and finally the face.
8. The Spanish Chair
There are many variants of the chair. They all have one thing in common: spikes cover the back, arm-rests, seat, leg-rests and foot-rests. The number of spikes in one of these chairs ranges from 500 to 1,500. To avoid movement, the victim’s wrists were tied to the chair or, in one version, two bars pushed the arms against arm-rests for the spikes to penetrate the flesh even further. In some versions, there were holes under the chair’s bottom where the torturer placed coal to cause severe burns while the victim still remained conscious.
7. The Head Crusher
The head crusher was widely used during most of the Middle Ages, especially the Inquisition. With the chin placed over the bottom bar and the head under the upper cap, the torturer slowly turned the screw pressing the bar against the cap. This resulted in the head being slowly compressed. First the teeth are shattered into the jaw; then the victim slowly died with agonizing pain, but not before his eyes were squeezed from his sockets.
6. The Pear Of Anguish
A pear-shaped instrument was inserted into one of the victim’s orifices: the vagina for women, the anus for homosexuals and the mouth for liars and blasphemers.The instrument consisted of four leaves that slowly separated from each other as the torturer turned the screw at the top. It was the torturer’s decision to simply tear the skin or expand the “pear” to its maximum and mutilate the victim.
5. The Rack
The rack is a contraption designed to dislocate every single joint in its victim’s body. Tied across the device’s board by the ankles and wrists, the victim’s body is then pulled in opposite directions by turning rollers at either end of the board. Great way of relieving a bad back, if you ask me. Of course, the subsequent pain caused by the multiple dislocations is another story.
4. The Crocodile Tube
The victim was fixed inside a tube just big enough for the victim’s entrance. The tube, having crocodile teeth-like spikes, was slowly compressed leaving the victim totally immobilized. The torturer could only see his face and feet. With the help of carbon and fire underneath the tube, the torturer gradually heated the tube until he extracted a confession or killed the victim.
3. The Judas Cradle
The Judas Cradle, a terrible medieval torture where the victim would be placed on top of a pyramid-like seat. The victim’s feet were tied to each other in a way that moving one leg would force the other to move as well – increasing pain. The triangular-shaped end of the judas cradle was inserted in the victim’s anus or vagina. This torture could last, depending on some factors discussed below, anywhere from a few hours to complete days.
2. The Spanish Donkey
A device which consisted of a main board cut with a wedge at the top fastened to two cross-beams. The naked victim was placed astride the main board as if riding a donkey, and various numbers of weights were attached to his or her feet. The agony could be ‘fine-tuned’ by using lighter or heavier weights
In one version of the Flaying Torture, the victim’s arms were tied to a pole above his head while his feet were tied below. His body was now completely exposed and the torturer, with the help of a small knife, peeled off the victim’s skin slowly. In most cases, the torturer peeled off his facial skin first, slowly working his way down to the victim’s feet. Most victims died before the torturer even reached their waist.