Medieval Torture Techniques

We bring to you 10 medieval torture techniques

The Rack

Most recognizable torture methods from medieval Europe. The rack was a wooden platform, with rollers at both ends.
The victim’s hands and feet were tied to each end and the rollers would be turned. Slowly, the machine would pull on the victims limbs in opposite directions until they were eventually dismembered.


Vlad the Impaler, the legendary vampire, Dracula, is credited as the first notable figure to prefer this method of execution during the late medieval period.
Impalement, as a method of execution and torture, is the penetration of a human by an object such as a stake, pole, spear, or hook, often by the complete or partial perforation of the torso.

The Saw

The victim would be held upside down, allowing the blood to rush to their head, and then the torturer would slowly start slicing them between their legs.
With the blood contained in the head, the victim would remain conscious throughout most of the slicing, often only passing out or dying when the saw hit their mid-section.

The Judas Cradle

The Judas Cradle, also known as the Judas chair, was a tall stool shaped torture device with a metal or wooden pyramid on top allegedly used by the Spanish Inquisition.

The Iron Maiden

The Iron Jungfrau. Torture instrument used by medieval court. Undated illustration. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

The iron maiden is a torture and execution device, consisting of an iron cabinet with a hinged front and spike-covered interior, sufficiently tall to enclose a human being.

The Wheel

The breaking wheel or execution wheel, also known as the Catherine wheel or simply the Wheel.
Most commonly used in Germany during the Middle Ages, the wheel was a favorite form of execution. The victim was tied to the wheel on the ground and wooden crosspieces were placed under each major joint. the torturer would start hammering the crosspieces with a heavy, iron-enhanced wheel.

The Chinese Torture Chair

This blade laden chair would provide a slow and painful death to anyone strapped to it.

The Heretic’s Fork

The Heretic’s Fork was a special torture device reserved for those who spoke out against the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. With two spiked ends, the device was attached to the victim’s neck and only removed after the wearer had spoken words, “I recant.”

Knee Splitter

Used during the Spanish Inquisition. The device was built from two spiked wood blocks with a screw at the back, and was clamped on the front and back of the knee. One turn of the screw and a knee was easily, and painfully, crippled. It was also used on other parts of the body.

Pear of anguish

Device invented exclusively for women torture was the Pear of Anguish (known as choke pear).
The pear was inserted into the vagina, anus or throat, depending on the nature of the crime committed: The oral device was reserved for heretics, while the anal and vaginal pears were used on homosexuals and witches, respectively.

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