In Medieval times, they sought out ways
to cut back on crime. Instead of letting the criminals sit in a jail
cell, like today, they would use different torture devices. These
devices came in all shapes and sizes and were meant to scare other
would be criminals into not doing the crimes committed by the person
The Brazen Bull
This device was designed in Greece by
Perillos of Athens. He was a brass founder and he cast the shape of a
hollow bull with a door on the side. This condemned person was shut in
the bull. There was a fire lit underneath the device and because it was
brass it became yellow hot, which would cause the person to roast to
death. It was configured with tubes and stops, so when the person was
screaming it would sound like the bull was raging.
The Breaking Wheel
This wheel of torture was used to kill
criminals and it did that very slowly. This device was a large wagon
wheel. The criminal would be tied to the wheel, where the punisher
would proceed to use a hammer to break the bones of the other person.
Once that was completed, they were left there to die and even the birds
would peck at their flesh until death was complete.
This device is an oblong rectangle with
a wooden frame. It was raised from the ground with a roller either at
one end or at both ends. One end had a fixed bar, where the feet were
locked onto it, and the other end had a moveable bar, where the hands
were tied to it. It had a lever that was used as the interrogation
progressed. It was on a lever and pulley system that would eventually
cause the joints of the person being tortured to dislocate and then
separate. Eventually, the muscle fibers, ligaments, and cartilage would
break separating the limbs from the body of the condemned.
This torture device is a pyramid shaped
seat. The victim is placed on top of it, with the point inserted into
an orifice, then they are very slowly lowered onto it. The condemned
was usually naked in order to add to their humiliation. This device was
thought to stretch the orifice or to slowly impale the person. The
stretching of the orifice would cause pain, rips and tears, which would
eventually cause death.
This device was used in the Middle
Ages. The condemned would be placed in the metal coffin and left there
for the appropriate amount of time. Depending on the crime, the person
could be left in there to die, while animals ate their flesh or they
would be placed on public display, which would cause their death. The
people that would surround the person in the coffin would throw rocks
and poke the person with objects until they finally became deceased.
This iron cabinet with a hinged front
was made to be a tall upright cabinet that would enclose a human being.
It would have a small opening, which was closeable, so the interrogator
would be able to open and close it at their will. They would then poke
the bodies of the person with a sharp object. They would use knives,
spikes, or nails and the person inside was forced to remain standing in
one position, ultimately causing their demise.
The Knee Splitter
The whole purpose of this device was to
make a person’s knees useless. It was used in mainly during the
Inquisitional period of time. This device was faceted with spikes, from
three to twenty of them, and depending on the crime committed, depended
on the number used. IT had a handle the torturer would use to close the
device. The spikes would mutilate the skin and begin to crush the knee.
They would also use the device on elbows, arms and the lower legs.
There were even instances that they would heat the device to cause a
maximum amount of pain. Death wasn’t a result of this device, but it
the person refused to cooperate they would use other means.
This device was used during the Spanish
Inquisition. It has two forks at opposing ends of a metal rod. One of
the forks would be placed under the chin, piercing the skin, and the
other end would be piercing the flesh in the upper chest. It didn’t
puncture any vital organs, so death would not take place during the use
of this method, but it made talking and neck movements impossible.
While wearing this device a person’s hands would be tied behind their
backs, so they could not escape it. It would harm the person’s neck
and, often times, spread diseases.
This method was used to torture and
kill the condemned person, which were typically accused of witchery,
adultery, murder, blasphemy, or theft. The accused was hung upside
down. This slowed down the blood loss by forcing the blood to the brain
and it humiliated the person. This type of torture could last for
several hours. Some of the victims would be cut completely in half,
while some would only be cut up to their abdomen in order to prolong
This was used to get a confession from
the offenders. The fingers of the person were placed in the device and
crushed by the torturer turning the handle on the top. It could last
for a very long time and it was very painful. This was also used to
crush a person’s toes. They even made bigger versions of this device
used to crush feet, knees, elbows and even heads.