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Truly terrible torture

Updated on March 6, 2013

The Rack, quartering, burning at the stake... the history of torture methods shows the very worst of human nature. The following examples are ten of the very worst devices and methods of torture within all of history. Be warned, not for the fainthearted!

The Interrogation Chair
The Interrogation Chair

10. The Interrogation Chair

The Interrogation Chair is a method of torture dating from the Middle Ages, yet it may have been used as late as the nineteenth Century. The victim would be forced to sit on the hundreds of spikes covering the chair with their arms and legs strapped tightly to the spiked surfaces. What is more, a fire was usually kindled beneath the iron chair, making it reach scalding point. Worst of all, the spikes themselves restricted blood loss, thus meaning many victims were kept alive for several days.

Judas Cradle
Judas Cradle

9. Judas Cradle

The cradle was a triangular piece of iron, onto which a victim would be lowered, crotch first. Weights would be attached to the victim's legs, and the torturer controlled how much weight was exerted onto the point.

8. The Boots

A victim's legs would be placed between two planks of wood and bound together with cords. Between the cords the torturers would place wooden wedges which they would violently hammer. Each time the hammer made contact a piece of the victim's shin bone would shatter. When the wood and cords were finally removed, the bone fragments fell to pieces and the skin of the lower leg acted merely as a sack for them.

Quartering by the horses
Quartering by the horses

7. Quartering by horses

Quartering by the horses was a more severe form of the famous Rack punishment reserved only for the murderers or attempted murderers of the royal family or noblemen. Each of the victim's limbs were attached to a horse. Then, the horses were whipped simultaneously meaning that each limb would erupt from the body in an instant.

6. Rat torture

Allegedly used during the Dutch revolt and in Chile during the late twentieth Century, rat torture involved placing a number of rats in a cage on the victim's stomach, with the stomach exposed to the rats. Hot charcoal would be placed on the cage, leading the rats to attempt to escape through gnawing through the bowels of the victim.


5. Impalement

A standard punishment in much of Europe during the Middle Ages, impalement is self explanatory. Believe it or not, once the lengthy spike entered the victim's posterior and exited through the mouth or throat. the victim might live for more than a day in this state, and be left to crawl in the first for all to watch.

4. Breaking with the wheel

Unbelievably, the use of the wheel as a means of torture and execution was second only to hanging as the most common form of execution in Germany during the Middle Ages. First, the victim (usually naked) had each of his limbs spread apart and tied to the ground. Wooden crosspieces would be placed beneath each major joint such as the wrists, ankles, hips and shoulders. The torturer would then smash each limb and joint with a heavy, iron-enhanced wheel. Then, once the limbs were reduced to gelatinous appendages of mashed bones, blood and flesh, each arm and leg was braided into the spokes of the wheel and then hoisted upright for display. The victim would remain in this position for days as crows and insects feasted on him or her until death.

The Head Crusher
The Head Crusher

3. The Head Crusher

Shockingly, some evidence exists suggesting varieties of the head crusher may still be used to this day as forms of torture. Death by head crusher means a victim's teeth implode into their sockets and smash the surrounding jaw bones. The eyes squirt from their sockets and, finally, brain matter squirts from the ears.

2. The Tub

The punishment of 'sitting in the tub' saw the convicted person placed in a wooden tub with only their head sticking out and their face painted with milk and honey. Flies would soon begin to swarm around the nose and eyelids. The victim would be well-fed, and soon they would virtually be swimming in their own excrement. At this stage, maggots and worms would begin to devour the body. One victim apparently survived for seventeen days....he decayed alive.

The Saw
The Saw

1. The Saw

The saw may well represent human ingenuity's darkest hour. The idea is that when the victim is suspended upside down most of the blood will go to the head. This is an integral part of the process, since when the torturers saw into the victim's crotch, all of the blood in the head will oxygenate the brain so that the victim will not pass out as one normally would under such excruciating pain. Typically the saw would reach the victim's midriff before unconsciousness would take hold.


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