Top 10 Torture Devices of Medieval Times

The medieval period, spanning roughly from the 5th to the 15th century, was characterized by its brutal practices.

torture was unfortunately a common method employed to extract confessions, punish wrongdoers, and instill fear in the populace.

The following article explores ten of the most infamous and terrifying torture devices from this dark era.

1. The Rack

The Rack is perhaps one of the most well-known torture devices of the medieval times. Consisting of a wooden frame with rollers at each end, the victim’s limbs were secured, and the rack was then stretched, causing excruciating pain as joints and bones were dislocated. The torturer could adjust the tension, prolonging the suffering to extract information or confessions.

Medieval Crime and Punishment The Rack

2. The Iron Maiden

The Iron Maiden was a menacing coffin-shaped device with spikes on the inside. The victim would be placed inside the Iron Maiden, and the door would be closed, causing the spikes to pierce the body, resulting in a slow and agonizing death.

Iron Maiden Torture DEvice

3. The Judas Cradle

This torture device involved suspending the victim above a pyramid-shaped seat and lowering them onto it. The pointed apex of the pyramid would penetrate the victim’s anus or vagina, causing severe pain and potential internal injuries.

Judas Cradle Torture Device

4. The Pear of Anguish

The Pear of Anguish was designed to be inserted into various body orifices and then expanded by turning a screw, causing immense pain and potentially tearing internal organs. It was used as punishment for heresy, blasphemy, and other alleged crimes.

The Pear Torture Device

5. The Brazen Bull

The Brazen Bull was a bronze statue shaped like a bull. The victim would be placed inside the hollow bull and roasted alive over an open fire. The design of the bull was such that the screams of the victim would sound like the bellowing of a bull, amplifying the horror of the execution.

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6. The Heretic’s Fork

This simple yet effective torture device had two sharp forks connected by a strap. One fork would be placed under the victim’s chin, and the other under their sternum. The victim’s head would be forced downward, preventing them from speaking, and any movement would result in the forks piercing the flesh.

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7. The Saw

The Saw was a gruesome device that would be applied to the victim’s abdomen. As the torturer sawed back and forth, the victim would be kept alive, prolonging their suffering before an inevitable and painful death.

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8. The Scavenger’s Daughter

The Scavenger’s Daughter was an iron hoop that the victim would be forced to sit in, with their hands and feet bound to the hoop. The torturer would then tighten the device, compressing the body and causing immense pain.

Scavengers Daughter

9. The Spanish Donkey

The Spanish Donkey was a wooden wedge with a sharp apex. The victim would be made to sit astride the wedge, with weights attached to their feet to exacerbate the pressure. The wedge would cause severe injuries to the victim’s genitalia or buttocks.


10. The Coffin Torture

The Coffin Torture involved placing the victim inside a narrow metal or wooden box, often with sharp spikes lining the interior. The victim would be left confined in the coffin, unable to move or lie down comfortably, leading to extreme discomfort and eventual death.

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The medieval period was a time of unparalleled cruelty and suffering, and the torture devices used during this era serve as chilling reminders of the darkest aspects of human history.

Although these devices are thankfully no longer in use, they stand as grim testaments to the importance of promoting empathy, justice, and respect for human rights in modern society.