The Most Horrifying Punishments in Medieval Times

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The Most Horrifying Punishments in Medieval Times


The Middle Ages is notorious for its severe punishments for crimes. These punishments included the cutting off of body parts and even death. Aside from that, trials and torture were used as a legitimate way to extract confessions from suspects. 

The punishments were harsh due to the overall influence of the Church. These were implemented to create in the hearts of the people fear of committing crimes. Here are some of the harshest forms of

Punishments during the medieval period.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Judas Cradle

Also known as the Judas Chair, this punishment caused criminals tremendous pain in the anus or vagina. According to Cultura Collective, a Mexico-based digital media publisher, the Judas Cradle could last for hours or even days. The hands and legs of the offenders were tied to prevent the offender from resisting. Weights were added to inflict maximum pain. The victims either died due to extreme pain or infection since the stool was never cleaned.


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Pear of Anguish

The pear of anguish was a pear-shaped metal device whose ends would open or bloom at the turn of a screw after they were inserted in a victim's certain body part, causing immense pain. Most of the time, this punishment was used for the alleged crimes of witchcraft, prostitution, and homosexuality. In the book “Letters From The Inquisition,” the author cited a case where a woman who received this kind of punishment died from the pain after 27 turns.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Tickle Torture

This kind of torture was popular in medieval China, especially during the reign of the Han dynasty. The authorities tortured someone without actually leaving any scars, thus, the tickle torture. Most of the time, they dip the victim's feet in salt solution and then have a goat lick the bottom of the feet. The torture will start normally but the pain that followed would be extreme.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Iron Chair

During the Middle Ages, the Iron Chair was used as a psychological instrument of torture. Victims were forced to sit on the chair, which had hundreds of sharp spikes. This would be followed by the progressive tightening of iron restraints, forcing the spikes deep into the flesh. According to io9, an online site that focuses on the subjects of science fiction, fantasy, futurism, science, technology, and related areas, this punishment could go on for hours, sometimes days.


Photo Credit: Britannica


The Racks

Victims were questioned on a wooden bed while their body parts stretch, causing infinite agony. This was considered one of the most recognizable forms of pain infliction during the time. The hands and legs of the criminals were tied up from the ankles and wrists to prevent resistance. One gruesome aspect of being stretched too far on the rack is the loud popping noises made by bones, ligaments, or cartilage.


Photo Credit: Wikiwand


Swedish Drink

During the Thirty Years’ War, a torture method was used to force victims to answer the interrogators' questions. Also known as “Schwedentrunk,” this punishment involved forcing the prisoner to drink dangerous amounts of manure/urine/excreta, thus making the stomach bloat up to painful levels. If the victims still didn’t answer the questions, the torturer would stomp on the victim’s tummy and run horses over them.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Brazen Bull

The Brazen Bull was designed for Phalaris, the tyrant of Akragas in Sicily, as a new means of executing criminals. Victims will be locked inside a bronze hollow bull and light a fire underneath to slowly roast the person inside. It had an acoustic apparatus that converts screams into the sound of a bull. This created an additional amusement for the audience. 




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