Medieval torture devices

The Inquisition is a part of medieval history. What really sets this era of history apart is the morbid inventiveness that went into the creation of diverse methods of torture. The reasons for this being heresy and criminal activity. This article will present 6 methods and devices of torture.

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  1. The Spanish or Wooden boot: the victim would be tied to a chair. The victim’s legs would be placed between two pieces of wood and tied. Between these pieces of wood would be smaller pieces that would have held the legs apart. The torturer would strike the wood with a large hammer. Every blow would cause a part of the bone to break. After 10 or sosmaller blows, the boots would be removed. Often the bone fragments in the feet would fully breakdown and the heels would be irrevocably damaged.
  1. The Chair of Torture:it is believed that the term “hot chair” derives from this torture device. An iron or wooden chair with iron spikes was especially uncomfortable for the victim. The victim would be tied to the chair, whilst straining the shoulder would have increased the feeling of discomfort and being forced upon the spikes. To increase the feeling of discomfort, a fire would have been lit beneath the chair to heat it and burn the victim sitting upon it.
  1. The Brazen Bull: this was a metal device, a statue that resembled a bull. The victim would be placed inside the bull and a fire lit to consume it. With the increasing temperature, the victim would have been contorting and screaming in agony. The sounds and movements coming from within the device, would have resembled that of a bull and sadly, this entertained the low – class mob that were oblivious to the anguish that the victim was enduring inside of the bull.
  1. The Finger Crushing Device: this was a form of torture for criminals that did not risk death, but put the victim through extreme pain nevertheless. This device was formed of three metal rods inside of which the thumbs were placed with a wooden lever pressing on top. This torture device was not only used to punish criminals, it was also used on defiant soldiers most often those serving in the Russian army


  1. The Rack: this was a favoured inquisition torture device. The victim’s limbs were tied with rope to two rotating wooden pillars and thus stretched. The consequences from this form of torture included sprained ankles, and in the most extreme cases, torn limbs.
  1. The Wheel:this device had an earlier and an updated version. The earlier version of the wheel had the victim tied to a large wooden wheel and rolled down a hill, preferably a hill with many rocky outcrops and cliffs. Later came more perfected versions with a rest on the wheel, under which the torturer would have lit a fire or placed metal spikes. A new method was conceived that resembled crucifixion, after tearing off the victim’s limbs they would tie the victim to the wheel and leave them for days out in the sun.

To be continued in the second part, the last text on the topic of inquisition will mention another 6 devices and methods of torture.

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