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Old medieval torture chamber with many pain tools. Source: CL-Medien/Adobe Stock

The Most Horrific Medieval Torture Techniques Explained (Video)

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Medieval history unveils a grim tapestry of torture and execution methods, each designed to inflict maximum suffering and deter dissent. Among the most notorious was "hanged, drawn, and quartered," a punishment reserved for acts of treason. Victims endured a procession of torment, from being dragged to the execution site to facing the gallows, where they were hanged to either break their necks or slowly strangle.

Impaling, famously associated with Vlad the Impaler, was another horrific practice. Victims faced excruciating deaths as poles were driven through their bodies, sometimes threaded to prolong their suffering. This method, used for enemies and subjects alike, served to instill fear and enforce authority.

Crushing, a favored method by the Mongols and employed in British law to extract pleas, involved stacking weights on the victim until compliance or death. Even beheading, perceived as a more merciful option, could turn grisly, as executioners sometimes required multiple strikes to sever the head completely.

Other gruesome methods included sawing, where victims were hung upside down and sawn in half from groin to head; flaying, involving the removal of the skin while the victim was still alive; and the wooden horse, where a person was forced to straddle a triangular-shaped device until their legs gave out, resulting in severe pain and possible death.

The wheel, exemplified by St. Catherine's Wheel after the martyrdom of St. Catherine, offered yet another brutal fate. Victims were bound to a wheel and subjected to beatings or left to perish slowly.

Top image: Old medieval torture chamber with many pain tools. Source: CL-Medien/Adobe Stock

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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