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6 Must-know Terrifyingly Painful Medieval Torture Techniques

Shashank Nakate Jun 6, 2019
The following write-up deals with medieval techniques used in torturing and giving a painful death to victims. Read on to find out some truly gruesome methods of law enforcement...
The infliction of severe pain, physical or mental, on a person is termed as torture. In medieval times, there were quite a few devices and techniques for this purpose. These techniques for punishing prisoners are among the most brutal methods of execution.

Medieval Torture

Criminals or social offenders in medieval times were subject to various kinds of tortures. Torture was also employed in obtaining information from prisoners. During the period between 1231-1542 CE, torture as a method of punishment was being used to its maximum.


The techniques used to torture people in medieval times made use of various devices. The use of these devices was being made to inflict maximum pain. A few of the many gruesome techniques used in medieval times are explained here.

Use of Racks

Racks were used to give a painful death to the victim. It involved dislocating the joints of a person's body by turning a handle. The wooden frame of the rack consisted of 2 ropes at the bottom as well as at the top, attached to a handle. The arms of the victim would be tied to the ropes, and the handle would be turned to crush the joints.
The arm joints would get dislocated when the handle was turned. The hands would be ripped off the body if the handle was being turned without stopping it. Later on, spikes were added to the rack in order to make the process even more painful.

Breaking Wheel

Like the rack, bones of the limb joints were broken, this time with the help of hammers, while the victim lay on the revolving breaking wheel. The victims were left to die after their bones had been hammered and crushed.
The reason behind putting the victim on the wheel was to allow birds to eat his flesh. Mercy killing in this torture technique involved the use of a hammer to strike the chest. It would kill the victim instantly.

Splitting the Knees

The knee splitter was one of tools used in the Spanish Inquisition. It had a vice-like grip with spikes on both sides. The tool was operated with the help of a handle. The knees of the victim were placed in the grip of the tool, and the handle would be turned.
As the spikes squeezed into the skin and bones, the knee joints were rendered worse than useless. The arms, lower legs, and elbows were also squeezed in such splitters.

Coffin Torture

This technique of torture involved a metal cage. The metal cage was made in the shape of a human body, and victims were forced into them. The cage would then be hung from gallows or trees. This would allow animals and birds to eat the living victim's flesh.

Crocodile Shears

If a person tried to assassinate the king, he was treated with crocodile shears. The design of crocodile shears resembled the jaws of crocodiles, and was lined with spikes. This was used to mutilate body parts.

Pillory Torture

A wooden frame with holes for hands and the head, the pillory was used to tie the victim and present them before the public to face their anger. In this torture technique, the victim was left defenseless to face the wrath of the public.
These were some of the many horrible techniques of torture in medieval times.