13 medieval torture methods that are as morbid as they are twisted

When it comes to cruelty, man has never lacked imagination through the ages …

Throughout his existence, Man has used atrocious means to make people talk, punish and kill. Torture has always existed, but there is a time when the methods were particularly sordid: the Middle Ages. Torture was often practised, even on people who had committed trivial crimes. The DGS presents to you 13 instruments of suffering from the Middle Ages, which will reassure you that you were not born at that time.



A technique prized by Lutherans, the condemned person, was suspended by the feet. The executioner sawed the victim very slowly, starting between the two legs. Of course, the position was not trivial: the head down allowed the blood to feed the brain and remain conscious.


As the name suggests, the torture cage was a cage suspended in the air from a tree or a gallows. The condemned man locked inside ended up devoured by birds in plain sight.

READ ALSO: 10 Most Cruel Torture Devices of All Time


The Cradle of Judas, or Judas Chair, was a popular technique during the Inquisition for obtaining confessions. The condemned was pulled upwards and positioned on an exceptional seat, in the shape of a pyramid, the point placed at the anus or the vagina’s level. He then descended very slowly using ropes. The orifice stretched, the executioner being able to increase the pain by lifting the condemned man and making him fall heavily on his point, or even by swinging him. The victim died impaled or succumbed to an infection.


Used as a means of execution for serious crimes such as regicides, quartering consisted of tying the condemned man’s four limbs to ropes, themselves attached to horses. When the latter set off at a gallop, the arms and legs were obviously torn from the human body. The quartering was also a means of judicial torture. The victim was positioned on an easel: a table with two cylinders at each end of it. Ropes connected the limbs to the cylinders. These were activated as slowly as possible. Sometimes the tables were fitted with blades to cut the back of the condemned man. He died in excruciating pain, asphyxiation or a heart attack.

READ ALSO: 10 Most Cruel Execution Methods of All Time


The knee breaker or retractor was a method of torture primarily used by the Spanish Inquisition. The condemned man’s knee was positioned between two wooden bars fitted with large nails. To obtain confessions, they tightened the bars with a screw and rendered the victim invalid. This instrument was sometimes used on other parts of the body, such as the arms.


An instrument also prized by the Catholic Inquisition, the Spanish donkey is a particularly sadistic form of torture. The condemned man had to sit astride a structure in the form of an inverted V. The executioner tied weights to his feet, and the victim ended up being cut in two.


The punishment of the pear of anguish was inflicted on several types of people during the Inquisition. The instrument is like a ball that can be enlarged thanks to a screw. It made it possible to punish homosexuals, women suspected of having slept with the devil, or even liars and blasphemers. Placed in the mouth, anus or vagina, the anguish pear could explode the skull if opened quickly.


This small instrument was used as a means of torture during the Renaissance. It was a fork with spikes at both ends, tied around the convict’s neck so that the tips touched the throat and breastbone. The purpose of this little tool: to deprive the victim of his sleep; she was hung on the wall so that she could not lie down on the ground. If she fell asleep, the spikes slowly pierced her flesh.


This technique consisted of putting a rat in a bucket placed at the victim’s stomach level. The executioner heated the object’s extremity to escape; the rat gnawed and scratched the victim’s entrails.


A torture technique invented for women, the Spanish spider, is an instrument developed to mutilate the body’s fleshy parts, particularly the breasts. The tool was heated to white then fixed on the flesh; the victim was then suspended, which amplified the pain and bleeding, and could result in death.


As its name suggests, this torture was intended for the intestines … The condemned man was lying on a table; an incision was then made in his abdomen. A hook, itself connected to a crank, was positioned on his small intestine. The executioner could activate the crank as he pleased, and the intestine was very slowly torn from the victim’s stomach.


The feet, hands and head were positioned in the holes for this purpose, the victim was thus contorted and suffered from numerous cramps. Sometimes, the executioner took a malicious pleasure in pressing firmly on his shoulders; blood could, therefore, come out of all his orifices. This technique was used to obtain a confession, to punish someone, but could also result in death.


The victim was placed in a sort of coffin with many spikes. Reserved for heretics, this torture method was slow and painful: the doors closed slowly on the condemned man, the iron points gradually piercing his skin.
Even though some of these tortures were not inflicted for killing, the victims often died eventually, especially from infections. These methods are particularly sadistic and send shivers down your spine, but we must not forget that torture has always been practised and still exists today. If you are interested in the Middle Ages, learn about the strange medical practices of this era.

READ ALSO: 11 tortures from the Middle Ages that were reserved for women

Related Posts

Add Comment