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Top 10 Worst Medieval Torture Devices

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Jason enjoys sharing disturbing historical facts that highlight the excitement, gore, and horror of previous centuries.

Enjoy this countdown of the most terrifying medieval torture devices!

Enjoy this countdown of the most terrifying medieval torture devices!

Medieval Torture Devices

I am always stunned by how creative humans are at inflicting devastating and unbearable pain on other human beings. Most of these devices serve no other purpose but to torment and kill victims and, in some cases, to entertain the torturer and the audience.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 worst medieval torture devices ever created.

10. The Tongue Tearer

What's the best way to silence a person and send a strong message at the same time? The tongue tearer was a torture device often used to silence people who committed blasphemy or heresy.

The victim's mouth would first be forced open. Then, the tongue tearer would be clamped onto the victim's tongue; the screw at the back would be tightened to make sure the grip on the tongue was firm.

The torturer would then yank the tongue out of the victim's head with all his might, silencing the victim for good.

The tongue tearer is at the bottom of the list because even though the pain is excruciating, it doesn't kill the victims.

The Choke Pear

The Choke Pear

9. The Choke Pear

Referenced as the choke pear, the pear of anguish, or the pear of the Pope, this torture device was used to humiliate and torment victims who lied or committed blasphemy or homosexuality.

For people who committed homosexuality, the pear would be inserted into the anus or vagina of the victim, and the screw at the back would be turned, causing the pear of anguish to expand, tearing open the victim's . . . private part.

For people who lied or committed blasphemy, their mouth would be forced open, and the choke pear would be placed inside; the same process as described above would occur, but in this case, the victim's jaw would be dislocated, and the cheeks would be ripped open.

The choke pear is number 9 because as humiliating and painful as it is, killing the victim is very unlikely.



8. Crucifixion

Crucifixion is well known around the world as Jesus Christ and many others were executed this way.

The victim’s hands and feet would first be nailed onto the wooden cross; gravity would then slowly drag the victims down the cross, ripping open the hands and feet, causing the wounds to widen.

The victim would usually bleed to death or starve. After that, the body would be left on the cross to serve as a warning and a reminder.

Crucifixion is number 8 on this list as the torment can last for hours and even days before the victims die. Other than tormenting and killing the victims, it was also used to shame the victims and warn others at the same time.

7. The Judas Cradle

The Judas Cradle was created to disgrace and torture victims by slowly impaling them.

The tip of the pyramid of the Judas Cradle would first be inserted into the victim’s private part, usually the anus. The victim would then be slowly lowered down the pyramid, causing the victim’s rear to be slowly torn open. The victim would be further lowered, causing the tip to pierce through organs and impale the person.

The Judas Cradle reaches number 7 on this list as it was used to slowly tear open the victims’ private parts, piece through their organs, and finally impale them. Just imagine how painful that would be!

The Rack

The Rack

6. The Rack

The rack was an extremely popular torture device that was commonly used to extract information from victims.

The victims' ankles would first be tied onto the roller below and the wrists onto the roller above. The torturer would then turn the wheel on the side of the rack, slowly increasing the tension on the victim's joint until . . . *snap*.

And in some cases, the torturer would continue turning the wheel, literally ripping the limbs out of the victim's body.

The rack is number 6 as it not only dislocates joints but also allows the torturer to literally tear the limbs off of a victim.

The Iron Maiden

The Iron Maiden

5. The Iron Maiden

Imagine spikes penetrating every inch of your body. Your thighs, arms, throat, eyes—however, the spikes aren't long enough to cause any fatal injury, allowing the torturer to have his fun numerous times.

The iron maiden was built for exactly this. The victims would first be forced inside the iron maiden, and the door would be slammed behind him/her, causing the spikes to penetrate every inch of his/her body, resulting in intense pain everywhere.

The iron maiden is number 5 on this list because it can cause intense pain pretty much everywhere, and the design is just brilliant.

4. The Spanish Horse

The Spanish horse is best known for humiliating, crippling, and slicing open victims.

The victim would be forced to mount on this simple yet effective torture device. Weights would then be added to both legs to prevent them from falling over and increase the pressure on the crotch.

The victim would scream in agony as more weights were added to both legs by the torturer, causing the sharp edge to slowly cut into their crotch.

There were even cases where the Spanish horse actually sliced open the victim when too many weights were added by the torturer.

The Spanish horse reaches number 4 on this list as it gives the torturer the ability to just cripple the victim or slowly slice them open.

The Brazen Bull

The Brazen Bull

3. The Brazen Bull

Have you ever had the thought of being roasted alive? Horrific, isn't it?

The brazen bull was used as a form of torture and entertainment; it was made of copper with a horn at the mouthpiece to make the victims' screams sound like a bull in distress.

Spices and herbs were even added to the brazen bull to give the roasted corpse a more pleasant smell. People would gather around the bull and chant as the victim inside the bull slowly got roasted alive.

Being roasted alive and the fact that this was a form of entertainment secures this notorious torture device the number 3 spot on this list.

The Head Crusher

The Head Crusher

2. The Head Crusher

Whether it was a fast, painless death or a torture session that lasted for hours all depended on the torturer for the next horrendous torture device.

The head crusher was widely used in the Middle Ages as it was a very effective tool for extracting information, and it gave the torturer total control of the torture sessions.

The torturer would turn the wheel on top of the head crusher, causing the top piece of the head crusher to be lowered slowly, increasing the pressure on the skull with every turn.

In the first few turns, the victim's teeth would be forced into the jaw. Further turning of the wheel would cause the eyeballs to pop out from the victim's socket as spinal fluid or brain juice started to leak out of the nose, ears, and eye sockets.

Further twisting would result in a badly crushed skull, allowing the contents of the head to spill out.

The head crusher is number 2 on this list as the torment can last as long as the torturer wants it to last—simple, effective, and brilliant (in a bad way, of course).

1. The Saw

So simple yet so effective, the saw was used to saw victims in half bit by bit.

It all started from the head slowly sawing through, but the torturer noticed the victims died too fast. So they decided to hang the victims upside down instead and started sawing the victims from the bottom, making sure the victim was alive for most of the sawing and able to witness his/her own blood and organs slowly spilling out of his/her body.

Giving the torturer full control of the torture sessions, being able to saw victims in half, and the fact that it is so simple secures the saw the number 1 spot on this list.

Torture Devices Are Disturbing and Fascinating Parts of History

It is rather disturbing that one can obtain such pleasure from the suffering of another human being.

I guess the world can be cruel, violent, and full of disturbing facts!

More Interesting Historical Information About Torture

  • Torture Techniques of the Spanish Inquisition
    Tortura del agua (now known as waterboarding) is tame compared to the more painful methods employed by Spanish torturers as priests stood by and urged the alleged sinner to confess.