During the middle ages, torture was considered a practical way to extract information, punish offenders and perform executions. Throughout history, a wide variety of devices were invented and used on both men and women equally. People considered it to be a legitimate way to obtain vital information or to oppress the ones who disobeyed the system. Some of them were considerably crueler than others. Before laws and limits were put into place, the medieval period considered this to be an effective treatment. Local customs allowed prisoners or enemies to be tortured or inflicted with pain in order to extract confessions. Depending on the victim’s age, crime, gender and social status, these devices or techniques were used numerous times. Here are 10 such cruel and hideous torture devices and methods that have been used throughout history.
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1. The Spanish Donkey
The Spanish Donkey is also known as the wooden horse or the chevalet. Victims are seated on top with weights hanging on their feet until they are split in half.
The Spanish Donkey was a medieval torture device that consisted of a narrow vertical surface. The victims were seated on top of it while heavy objects (rocks or sandbags) were attached to their feet. Both men and women were forced to sit on it to straddle a sharp angle. The device created a similar experience to that of sitting on a horse; but with greater pain, which sometimes cost them their lives.
Depending on the depth of their crimes, the weights were subsequently added. This prolonged their pain and would eventually cut them in half. The device was mainly used during the medieval times but according to several records, the technique was resurrected by Union soldiers during the Civil War to torture their Confederate prisoners. (source)
2. The Iron Chair
The victim was strapped into an iron chair filled with hundreds of sharp spikes, with fire burning under them. The device was mainly used as a way to obtain vital information from enemies.
During the middle ages, the iron chair devices were used extensively. The victims were forced to sit on the chair that was embedded with hundreds of spikes and then strapped in with the help of iron restraints. Some of the devices also had the option to burn wood underneath, to inflict excruciating pain on the victims. The iron restraints alone caused deep puncture wounds but did not penetrate any vital organs; thus keeping the victim alive. Once the person was released from the chair (if he/she was released) death often followed them since the puncture wounds created great amounts of blood loss.
The iron chair mostly served as a psychological instrument, used in obtaining confessions. Most of the prisoners were forced to watch other prisoners being strapped and tortured in the device; making them confess at a faster rate. (source)
3. The Judas Cradle
The Italian invention used ropes to lower a victim towards a sharp pyramid-shaped “seat”. The pointy seat was pointed directly at the victim’s hind end or genitalia.
Also known as the Judas Chair, the device caused permanent damage to intense torture, depending on the type of crime committed by the victim. Victims were stationed above the pyramid-shaped seat with the help of ropes and lowered directly onto it. The sharp edge inserted pressure on the orifice and caused irreversible damage. If the victim survived the ordeal, it wasn’t for long since damaged muscle tissues caused extreme infections; claiming their lives. (source)
Scaphism was a torture method that involved two boats, milk, honey and insects.
The ancient Persian execution technique stripped the victim naked, then fastened them in between two identical boats; with only their limbs exposed. The unlucky victim was then force-fed large amounts of milk and honey. This was primarily done to develop diarrhea in the victim. Then, the victim’s entire body was covered with honey before being set to sail into a pond. As the victims float freely, various insects that are attracted to honey and human excretion are drawn towards them. The insects then lay eggs on the exposed parts, causing them to contract gangrene.
The force-feeding step was often repeated daily, to prolong the life of the victim as well as the torture. Victims often died within a week or two from gangrene or septic shock. (source)
5. Rat torture
This medieval torture technique utilized rodents and their biting and chewing motion to punish the victim as well as obtain vital information.
A metal bucket containing live rats is placed on the torso of the victim and heat is applied to top of the bucket. The heat forces the rats to escape through the only way possible, the victim’s torso. As the intensity of the heat increases, the rats gnaw their way into the abdomen of the victim in a quest to escape. Fearing for their lives, victims often confessed before the torture began.
This particular technique was known to be used during the Elizabethan Era (1500’s) as well as General Pinochet (1973-1990). (source)
Read more brutal torture devices on the next page.