An appropriate punishment for a crime is always a tricky thing to decide, but nobody deserves the punishments that you are about to read about.
It can be alarming to read about how people used to get tortured, especially for crimes that would be barely a scratch in today’s society. Yet, I guess, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. You just need to hope you don’t spend ‘the time’ being boiled alive.
Do you love your arms? You might love them even more when you realized that you live in an era during which you probably aren’t going to get stretched out until your arms literally rip off. Own a pet rat? Bet you’re real glad to know it’s never going to be used to eat your intestines…
It is easy to see these torture methods now and think of how outrageous they are. That doesn’t mean that very real people didn’t suffer some very real pain at the hands of their torturers. Many of these torture devices were created and modified over the years to make sure that the maximum amount of pain could be inflicted. One thing is for sure, if they were torturing me with these tools, I wouldn’t care what the information was, they could have it!
Please, be warned that some of the descriptions below are graphic, but they’re also a very real part of history. These 10 devices or methods of torture that I’m about to talk about are not only outrageous, they are some of the most physically painful things that I could ever imagine.
10. Judas Cradle
The Judas Cradle is simple in its design: a stool with a metal or wooden pyramid on top. How it worked is also incredibly simple. The victim would be stripped naked, bound up with ropes and suspended above the device. They would then be lowered incredibly slowly until the device penetrated either their anus or their vagina.
They would also sometimes be rocked, or lifted and dropped repeatedly in order to inflict more punishment. In extreme cases, the person would be left overnight to suffer before dying the next morning after more torture. Given that they never cleaned it, many people would die from infection due to the excess amount of blood that was left from previous victims.
There would also be moments when people would be tortured until they passed out from the pain, only to then be lifted up and dropped again on the chain until they awoke.
9. Chair Of Torture
This may have a pretty straight forward name, but that doesn’t make the punishment any more fun.
The idea is that people would come and sit on these chairs that would have anywhere from 500 to 1,500 tacks on them. The pain would be increased when you consider that it was built so that no vital organs would be pierced, making death take anywhere from a few hours to a little over a day. The chair would also have holes underneath the victim’s feet so that burning coals could be placed underneath.
Keep in mind that during all of this, the victim is strapped to this chair and the executioner may also be adding weights to your body so that the spikes penetrate even more. All in all, you have yourself a pretty bad day.
8. The Rack
I remember thinking when I was a kid that if I wanted to get taller, all I needed was someone to come and stretch me. After reading about the rack, I cannot believe I ever had that thought.
The rack would involve the victim being strapped down with rollers attached at his feet and hands. If the victim did not confess, the torturer would then turn the handles as bones would start to break, joints would start to get dislocated, and, quite often if they still didn’t confess, their arms and legs would literally be ripped from their bodies.
This was one of the main methods of execution that was used against the Knights Templar. There were also variations where there would be spikes that would penetrate the victim’s spinal cord.
7. Brazen Bull
What are you going to do when you need to find a way to boil people alive? Simple! Why not invent a giant brass bull that had a hollow door on the side? The Brazen Bull was created by Perillos in Ancient Greece. Perillos proposed the idea to Phalaris, the sadistic tyrant, as a means to execute people. When Perillos finished the bull, Phalaris ordered that the bull be tested on Perillos himself. Talk about getting the raw end of the deal!
Once inside the bull, fires would be lit underneath the bull. The device was later modified to also allow the victim’s screams to sound more like a bull, as well as having the smoke smell like incense. I imagine burning flesh didn’t smell great.
6. Live Burial
One of the most claustrophobic feelings has to be the sensation of being buried alive, and that was exactly what happened to some people.
The victim would often be left buried in the sand, with only their head exposed. This would allow any animals or nearby insects to come by and peck at and attack them.
This was not always ordered as a death sentence, but I can only imagine the fear as you are buried there and you start to hear birds and insects coming closer, knowing that there is literally nothing you can do but stare the animals down and hope they don’t go for your eyes first… but they probably will.
5. Burning in the Sun
As you learned from this list, there are definitely devices out there that are specifically meant to burn people alive. One of the more unique ways to go about this was when they decided to expose people of the elements of summer.
People would be stripped naked, coated with a mix of oil and boiling water and then forced to go and stand in the sun. They would not be given any food or water, and would burn to death in the sun.
4. Left To Freeze To Death
Continuing the lovely theme of being exposed to the elements, how about winter?
They were still a fans of stripping victims naked, but this time they would also force them to stand outside in the view of everyone as a way to increase embarrassment. The torturer would then pour water onto the victim’s head and body, causing them to slowly freeze to death in an incredibly painful way.
In efforts to raise intimidation, there were incidents in which the dead bodies would be left frozen in place for the duration of winter.
3. Death By Rats
I’m going to apologize if you’re a huge fan of rats because this is a really twisted form of punishment that may make you extra squeamish.
When the torturers were looking for a cheap form of punishment, they learned that they could use rats to their advantage. First, they took the victim and completely restrained them to the ground. They would then cut many slits in their stomach, and then inside of the open wounds, they would place rats that they knew were starving. The rats would literally eat the victim to death from the inside. Apparently you don’t live for very long if you have a rat eating your intestines. I imagine it also probably doesn’t feel so good.
2. Restrained And Left
Some form of restraints are involved in many of these punishments. After all, you aren’t exactly going to be able to inflict these forms of torture if you can’t keep the person sitting still.
Restraints also played a role in exposure punishment, as the victims would often be stripped naked and then left restrained somewhere outside, sometimes in public spaces to increase embarrassment. Quite often people would die due to hunger and thirst.
There would also be a modification in which someone would be fitted with metal that would be big enough for arms and legs but not the body, and would get incredibly hot during the summer days to cause pain. On cold days, the metal would work to further sap your body heat.
1. Death By Sawing
Death by sawing may seem like an extreme form of punishment, but it’s been used by many different groups of people all over the world.
While there were times in history when it was not used, there were also incidents like the Kitos War, during which 222,000 Greeks were killed and sawing was allegedly a popular use of torture and death.
So, what is it exactly? Well, you get hung upside down and then your body would literally be sawed in half. To make things extra fun, they would start between the legs and go right up the middle.