A Garrotte torture device was basically a strangulation device used to cut off the oxygen supply by strangulation. The victim could be seated and the mechanism that performed the strangulation was more sophisticated than a simple rope or wire.
The term “Garrotte” refers to the wire or rope used to strangle a person that could have handles attached to each end to make it easier to use, there is nothing more to a “Garrotte” in that sense and there is no requirement for any additional wood or structure to be attached.
A Garotte is just as well known as a device to kill a person as a torture device. More or less any material that can be used for strangulation can be used for a Garrotte such as rope, wire, and in later times nylon, fishing wire, telephone cords, etc.
The term “Garrotte also has different understandings in different countries for example in Spain the word refers to a rope and stick torture device that constricts a person’s movement.
The Garrotte torture device was popular throughout the world, however, it was particularly popular in Spain and this is where it got its name from, the Spanish tinkered with the original Garrotte torture device to maximize its ability to cause maximum pain and certain death.
It is difficult to trace back the origins of the original Garrotte device which must have been around in the ancient world, but certainly, the adapted version for torture was introduced in Spain and widely used during the Spanish inquisition.
The more advanced Garrotte torture device that can be seen in the images was usually made of wood with a seat, the victim would sit down as he was tied to the Garrote device, and then a metal collar was secured around his neck.
The executioner would then turn a handle that slowly tightened the collar around the victim, as the neck was slowly crushed, breathing became difficult and the victim would eventually die as the oxygen supply was cut off and he became asphyxiated.
The iron collar would penetrate into the cervical vertebrae and crush them causing the victim to die of both asphyxiation and severe trauma to the spinal cord.
The Garrotte torture device was used for many different crimes that were punishable by death, however it was not used for minor crimes where humiliation was the intended punishment.
The Garrotte torture device was most popular in Spain and was used most frequently during the Spanish inquisitions to obtain confessions from heretics (non-believers)
However as in most of the medieval period crimes and punishment for those crimes had a twisted logic, it was really a no-win situation for the victim, confess to the crime and you were burned alive, deny the crime and you continued to be tortured until you probably died from your injuries!
The Garrotte torture device began its decline after the medieval period as the new enlightened period of the Renaissance did away with a lot of the backward thinking of the dark ages and medieval period.
However, you may be surprised to learn that the last recorded use of the Garrotte wasn’t until 1975 when a Spanish student was executed with a Garotte, unfortunately, the student was later found innocent of any crime.