10. The Rat:
A cheap and effective way to torture someone was with the use of rats. There were many variants, but the most common was to force a rat through a victim's body (usually the intestines) as a way to escape.
This was done as follows:
The victim was completely restrained and tied to the ground or any horizontal surface. A rat was then placed on his stomach covered by a metallic container. As the container was gradually heated, the rat began to look for a way out - through the victim's body.
Digging a hole usually took a few hours of agonizing pain for the victim. This almost invariantly resulted in death.
9. The Pillory:
The pillory was used to publicly humiliate a victim. Even though it was meant as a mild form of punishment, the crowd sometimes made it lethal.
The pillory often served as a post for Flagellation. When the victim was restrained with the device, he was completely defenseless and subject to the crowd.
In many cases the crowd threw harmless objects such as vegetables, but when the victim committed a serious offense they threw stones or other heavy objects. The crowd often humiliated the victim by cutting his hair, putting marks on his body and even mutilating some of his body parts.
The pillory didn't last more than a few hours, but it was sometimes carried on for days. The device was situated in either the marketplace or the plaza - where most villagers could see the victim's suffering. The army was also well-known for using the pillory as a means of punishment.
8. The Chair of Torture :
Also known as the Judas Chair, the Chair of Torture was a terrible device of the Middle Ages. It was used until the late 1800's in Europe.
There are many variants of the chair. They all have one thing in common: spikes cover the back, arm-rests, seat, leg-rests and foot-rests. The number of spikes in one of these chairs ranges from 500 to 1,500.
To avoid movement, the victim's wrists were tied to the chair or, in one version, two bars pushed the arms against arm-rests for the spikes to penetrate the flesh even further. In some versions, there were holes under the chair's bottom where the torturer placed coal to cause severe burns while the victim still remained conscious.
This instrument's strength lies primarily in the psychological fear caused on the victims. It was a common practice to extract a confession by forcing the victim to watch someone else be tortured with this instrument.
The time of death greatly varied ranging from a few hours to a day or more. No spike penetrated any vital organ and the wound was closed by the spike itself which delayed blood loss greatly.
7. The Knee Splitter:
The knee splitter, a terrible torture, was mostly used during the Inquisition. What this instrument accomplished was to permanently render the knees useless.
Even though the name implies that this instrument was only used for "splitting" knees, it was also used in other body parts including: the elbows, arms and even the lower legs.
As the torturer turned the handle, the claws slowly slammed against each other mutilating any skin in between. The number of spikes the knee splitter contained varied from three to more than twenty.
There were many variants to this instrument. Some claws were heated beforehand to maximize pain - others had dozens of small claws that penetrated the flesh slowly and painfully.
Even though this method very seldom provoked direct death, it was often followed by other more painful methods if the victim refused to cooperate.
6. The Wheel:
This device was used as a capital punishment during the Middle Ages. Reserved for hated criminals, The Wheel always killed its victim, but did so very slowly.
The Wheel originated in Greece and quickly spread to Germany, France, Russia, England and Sweden. The device consists of a large wooden wheel with many spokes. The victim's limbs were tied to the spokes and the wheel itself was slowly revolved. Through the openings between the spokes, the torturer usually hit the victim with an iron hammer that could easily break the victim's bones. Once his bones were broken, he was left on the wheel to die, sometimes placed on a tall pole so the birds could feed from the still-living human.
In France, many executioners used the coups de grÃ¢ce, which caused lethal injuries, to make the victim's death faster. When extreme pain was desired, the victim just had his bones broken and left there to die. It could take up to two or three days for him to die of dehydration.
5. The Thumbscrew:
The victim's fingers were placed inside the instrument and slowly crushed as the torturer turned the handle on top. This method was primarily used to extract confessions as it was both painful and very lasting.
If the victim refused to speak, the torturer could choose from many other torture methods.
The same instrument was also used to crush victim's toes.
A bigger variant of the instrument that followed the same principle was used to crush victim's feet, knees and elbows. The Head Crusher was used for crushing the head.
A similar device was used for medical purposes in order to straighten the fingers of warriors who had been injured. The effectiveness of such instrument is debated.
4. Crocodile Tube:
The crocodile tube wasn't common, but it was used to kill many infidels and thieves.
The victim was fixed inside a tube just big enough for the victim's entrance. The tube, having crocodile teeth-like spikes, was slowly compressed leaving the victim totally immobilized. The torturer could only see his face and feet.
With the help of carbon and fire underneath the tube, the torturer gradually heated the tube until he extracted a confession or killed the victim. The former was most common, as this is one of the cruelest and most painful tortures ever used on human beings.
With the face and feet exposed, the torturer was able to inflict painful wounds on the victim. Facial mutilation and toe ripping were preferred choices.
3. The Heretics Fork:
The heretics fork was used in the Middles Ages mainly during the Spanish Inquisition.
The instrument consists of two forks set against each other that penetrated the flesh under the chin in one end and the upper chest in the other. As usual, this instrument didn't harm any vital points; thus avoiding death and prolonging pain.
The victim's hands were tied behind his back to prevent any chance of escape. The Heretics Fork made speech and neck movement almost impossible and was used after a confession to avoid hearing the victim any further. As can be seen in the picture, a small collar supported the fork forcing the victim to hold his head erect.
Sometimes the victim was incarcerated and subject to this instrument as well. This instrument often harmed the neck of the victim, as well as potentially spreading an infection or disease.
2. The Coffin (The Gibbet)
The Coffin Torture was feared throughout the Middle Ages. It is enough for one to look at the picture to the left to realize the reason.
The victim was placed inside the "coffin". Torturers were well-known for forcing overweight victims into the device, or even making the "coffin" slightly larger than normal to make the victims more uncomfortable.
The period of time a victim was to be kept inside the coffin was determined by his or her crime. Very serious crimes, such as blasphemy, were punished by death inside the coffin where the victim was to be kept inside under the sun with animals eating his or her flesh.
The coffin was sometimes placed in a public plaza so the local population would congregate around it and mock the unlucky victim. Sometimes death occurred because of the hatred towards the person as others often threw rocks and other objects to further increase the pain.
1. The Head crusher
The head crusher was widely used during most of the Middle Ages, especially the Inquisition. With the chin placed over the bottom bar and the head under the upper cap, the torturer slowly turned the screw pressing the bar against the cap.
This resulted in the head being slowly compressed. First the teeth are shattered into the jaw; then the victim slowly died with agonizing pain, but not before his eyes were squeezed from his sockets.
This instrument was a formidable way to extract confessions from victims as the period of pain could be prolonged for many hours if the torturer chose to. This could be done by repeatedly turning the screw both ways.
If the torture was stopped midway, the victim often had irreparable damage done to the brain, jaw or eyes.
Many variants of this instrument existed, some that had small containers in front of the eyes to receive them as they fell out of their sockets.
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