The 8 Most Painful Torture Devices Of The Middle Ages
Published in Jun 2021 / Updated in Sep 2021
People who found themselves at the wrong end of the law during medieval times had many painful and horrifying tortures waiting in store for them. The torture methods included the well-feared rack to the gruesome head crusher.
Here are some of the most painful torture devices from medieval times.
1. The Saw
Today, you might know the saw as a tool used to cut through wood or other materials. However, during the Middle Ages, the saw was used to cut through human beings while executing them.
Sawing was used as a way to both torture and kill offenders.
As this torture method was being used, the unfortunate victim was tied upside down, allowing blood to rush to the head. From there, a saw would be used to slice them between the legs.
Since the blood would be at the bottom of their heads, the person would remain conscious throughout this painful ordeal. However, many passed out and died before the saw got to the mid-section.
2. Breast Ripper Or The Spider
Obviously, this torture method was designed for women. At the time, this was the torture method that awaited women guilty of crimes like adultery or abortion.
The device was designed to look like a claw with spikes at the end.
During use, it would be heated and then used to rip off a woman’s breasts. The breast ripper could also be used to shred the woman’s breast.
The spider was a variant of the breast ripper. The only difference is that it was attached to a wall rather than being used to clamp a woman’s breast.
3. The Rack
During the middle ages, this was the ultimate torture device. The rack is, without a doubt, one of the most popular torture devices from medieval times.
The rack consisted of a wooden platform, but it had rollers on either end.
When in use, the victim’s hands and feet are tied to the ends, and the rollers would be turned. This would stretch the body to uncomfortable limits.
Ultimately, the person would die from the painful treatment.
4. Knee Splitter
The knee splitter proved very useful during the Spanish Inquisition. As the name suggests, this device focused on the victim’s knee.
The knee splitter was made using two wooden blocks. It had a screw at the back, and when turned, the spikes at the front would come together and do serious damage to the knee.
During use, the screw was turned while the knee was placed between the spikes. This would be painful and crippling.
The device was also used on other parts of the body.
5. The Head Crusher
Obviously, folks from medieval times knew how to give perfect names to these horrible devices. The head crusher was as frightening as it sounds.
This device works exactly as the name suggests: it would crush the victim’s head.
When the device was in use, the chin was placed at the bottom rung, and the top of the head was placed under the cap.
Once the victim’s head was in place, the screws were turned, causing a truly horrific and painful death. As a result of this deadly torture method, brains would leak out, and eyes could pop out of their sockets.
The bones and the teeth would also end up getting crushed.
6. The Wheel
The wheel was mainly used as a torture method in Germany, and it was mainly used as a way to execute people.
The victim would be tied to the wheel. After that, wooden crosspieces were put under each main joint, such as the wrist, hips, shoulders, knees, and ankles.
Once this was over, the torture would start with the crosspieces being hammered using a heavy, iron-enhanced wheel.
After a severe bashing, the limbs would be braided into the wheel’s spokes, and it would be left as a grotesque display for the public until the torture victim had died from the injuries.
7. The Wooden Horse/Wooden Pony/Spanish Donkey
The wooden horse was one of the most painful torture devices used during medieval times. Unfortunately, it was also used during the American colonial period.
There were actually three variants of this device, but they all used the same concept.
The piece of wood used to design this device was triangular in shape with a sharp end at the top.
When in use, the victim would straddle the incredibly uncomfortable wooden “horse.” The body’s entire weight would be on the pelvis, which would be very painful for the victim.
More weights were added to the ankles to keep the person in place during the torture. These extra weights would make the impact of the device on the victim’s crotch even more severe.
Some victims would get split into two, making the wooden horse one of the cruelest torture devices ever to exist in history.
8. The Judas Cradle
Much like the wooden horse, the Judas cradle was a pyramid-shaped device used to torture and kill people. The victim would be lowered using ropes onto the sharpened end, and the end would enter the body through the anus or vulva.
The device is usually associated with the Spanish Inquisition. However, history also shows that the device existed in carnival sideshows.
A Video On Medieval Torture Devices
As you can see, people have always been obsessed with making alleged crime victims pay for their mistakes in the most painful ways, as these medieval torture devices prove.
Thankfully, these horrible practices are now behind us, as they clearly represent some of the worst ways a person could ever die.