5 Most Horrific Medieval Torture Devices
There are always dark periods in the history of mankind, and there are quite a few reasons that the European Middle Ages are referred to as the Dark Ages. One of them is the insanely cruel ways of torture used during that time, or at least thought to be used.
The brazen bull, bronze bull, or Sicilian bull was was designed in ancient Greece by metal-worker Perillos of Athens, proposing it to Phalaris, thetyrant of Akragas, Sicily as a new means of executing criminals.
The person was locked inside the bull while a fire was lit under him, heating the metal until the person inside roasted to death.
An iron cabinet which was tall enough to fit an entire human being. It is often associated with the middle ages, but no account has been found earlier than 1793. According to many scholars, supposed iron maidens were pieced together from artifacts found in museums, to create spectacular objects intended for commercial use.
Inspiration for the iron maiden may come from the Carthaginian execution of Marcus Atilius Regulus as recorded in Tertullian’s “To the Martyrs” (Chapter 4) and Augustine of Hippo’s The City of God (I.15), in which the Carthaginians”packed him into a tight wooden box, spiked with sharp nails on all sides, so that he could not lean in any direction without being pierced”.
Pear of Anguish
Also known as the Choke pear, used as either a gagging instrument, or worse, for torture. The instrument was inserted into the victim’s mouth, and then slowly spread apart as the screw was turned. When this device was used on homosexuals, the device was inserted into the anus if the subject was male, or the vagina if the subject was female.
The earliest mention of the device s in F. de Calvi’s L’Inventaire général de l’histoire des larrons (“General inventory of the history of thieves”), written in 1639, which attributes the invention to a robber named Capitaine Gaucherou de Paliolyin the days of Henry of Navarre. Palioly would have used a mechanical gag to subdue a wealthy Parisian while he and his accomplices robbed the victim’s home.
A torture device mainly used in interrogations, with the victim’s ankles fastened to one roller and the wrists are chained to the other. By means of pulleys and levers this roller could be rotated on its own axis, thus straining the ropes until the sufferer’s joints were dislocated and eventually separated.
According to a historian in the Roman Empire, it was first used to extract the names of the conspirators to assassinate Emperor Nero from the freedwoman, Epicharis in 65 C.E.
Also known as “the branks”, as well as “brank’s bridle”. It was an iron muzzle in an iron framework that enclosed the head, used for torture and public humiliation, a punishment device used primarily on women.
First recorded in Scotland in 1567, the branks were also used in England, where it may not have been formally legalized as a punishment. Inflicted mostly on female transgressors and women that were considered to be “rude”, “nags” or “common scolds”.
For a lighter view on the subject, here are 16 Lego Torture Devices You Must Be Scared Of