Medieval torture devices – Part 2

This is the final part of the text begun on the inquisition. The theme is far from ideal, and I shall mention another 6 devices of torture in this part, some of which served the inquisition.  A thank you to all the readers who took an interest in this.


  1. The Stake: a famous and simple method of the inquisition. A wooden post would be placed In the middle of a bonfire with the victim tied to it. The fire would see the job done to the end. It would usually take around 30 minutes for the victim to lose consciousness from the heavy smoke, on windy days the process of burning the victim could take up to 2 hours. This was the method most often used by the inquisition against heretics.
  2. The Pillory:this method was not fatal but served to publicly shame and discredit someone who had committed a crime. The device consisted of three holes which were for the victim’s head and hands. The victim was placed under lock and key and could not escape. The whole process was carried out in public and lasted from 1 to 2 hours, during which the peasantry would throw rotten fruit, animal corpses and stones that sometimes inflicted damage.
  1. The Iron Maiden: a malicious device thought to be non-existent. The Iron Maiden was a metal sarcophagus with doors that were lined with spikes on the inside. After throwing the victim inside the sarcophagus, the door would be closed. The spikes were strategically placed to target and penetrate vital organs, however they were not elongated so the injured victim would suffer in agony until they bled to death.
    Iron Maiden
  1. The Scavenger’s Daughter: a circular device in the shape of the letter A, with a space for the victim’s head at the top, the hands in the center and the feet at the bottom. In contrast to the stretching device, the aim of this device was compression of the body, with horrific injuries such as the breaking of the spine and the ribs, and with the enormous amount of compression, bleeding of the eyes and nose. This was really a savage device.
  1. The Breast Ripper: this device shows how torturers orchestrated specific and horrific tortures for women. It is interesting to note that there were very few who refrained from torturing women, on the contrary, they had elaborated and specifically cruel methods for destroying certain aspects and attributes of femininity. This device falls into the category amongst such methods of desecration.
    Breast Ripper
  1. The Pear of Anguish:if you cannot imagine something worse than breast mutilation, you have been misled. This pear-shaped device was formed of 4 metal leaves that could be separated and closed. The pear would be placed inside of the vagina, anus or throat depending on the nature of the crime: the throat for heretics, the anus or vagina for homosexuals, witches and adulterers. After being inserted, a mechanism would be initiated and the leaves would separate, causing internal injury. This device was not lethal, but was used in conjunction with other methods of torture.
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