Standing out as one of the most violent eras in history is the period often referred to as the Middle Ages.
From the start of the 5th century and lasting approximately 1,000 years, the Middle Ages was a time of great brutality and punishment.
Although methods of torture still exist today, it is usually reported as somewhat mediocre methods such as breaking of fingers, cutting of toes or interval dunking in water. It’s the inventiveness of the medieval ages that really set it apart from any other, and tickle the morbid fascinations of people all over the world.
Check out some these beauties that were sure to have had many bloodied criminals giving themselves up in no time!
1. Spanish Tickler
Used in most areas of Europe, the Spanish Tickler (or Cat’s Paw as it was also known) was a simple instrument constructed to act as an extension of the torturer’s hand. Starting often on the limbs, the Tickler was dragged down the skin, tearing the flesh from the victim’s muscles and bones.
All different shapes and sizes, the Spanish Tickler was often attached to a pole to enable the torturer to maim from a distance, whilst others were simply just the claw itself. The torture varied, depending on the instrument, and more often than not resulted in death and a lot of flesh ribbons blowing in the wind.
2. The Iron Maiden
Double doors on the front, the inside covered with hundreds of spikes, the Iron Maiden is so devilish, it was thought to be a myth. This upright sarcophagus with its doors allowed an opening for a victim. Once inside, the victim was faced with the doors closing, the strategically placed spikes, piercing the victim’s flesh along with vital organs.
The internal spikes were not always long enough to be fatal, so this method was especially excruciating for its victims, leaving them to bleed for hours on end. More often than not, two spikes were placed right in front of the eyes, penetrating the eyeballs.
3. Thumb/Finger Screw
Though not likely to be fatal, Thumb/Finger Screws were the perpetrator of great agony. Consisting of three upright metal bars between which the thumb of the victim was placed, the wooden base of the thumb screw would create pressure between itself and the metal bars. A screw pressed the wood bar downward, crushing the thumb painfully.
Thumb Screws are thought to come from Russian origin, used in the army as punishment for misbehaving soldiers. Only when a set was brought home with a Scottish man were they introduced to the UK.
4. Breast Ripper
This device was used as an interrogational device primarily on condemned women who were convicted of such crimes as blasphemy, adultery and sexual white magic. The claws of the Ripper were used either hot or cold, on a woman’s naked breast, ultimately turning them to bloody pulps.
This instrument was also used red hot to burn the mark of the sinful sexually active – unmarried mothers. An alternative was the Spider, which consisted of clawed bars which stuck out from a wall. The victim was dragged alongside the bars until her breasts were literally ripped away from her body.
5. Head Crusher
This horrendous device required the victim’s head be placed under an upper cap and the chin on the bottom bar. Slowly, the torturer would turn the top screw, tightly compressing the skull. With the heavy compression, the victim’s teeth would shatter, puncturing the jaw, the eyes eventually squeezing out of their sockets. Some of the ‘higher end’ models had special receptacles to catch the eyeballs.
In the end, the skull would completely fracture and the contents of the head would burst out due to the incredible force. If the torturer was feeling particularly cruel, they would strike the top of the skull cap, each blow causing an echoing pain throughout the victim’s entire body.
6. Choke Pear
These devices, in oral, rectal and vaginal forms, were forced into a victim’s mouth, anus or vagina and expanded to the point where the inner cavity was grotesquely mutilated, with the mutilation sometimes being fatal. Each segment of the device had pointed prongs which did a fabulous job of tearing the victim’s throat, cervix or inner gizzards.
Among other things, the anal pear was saved predominantly for homosexuals, the oral version for heretical preachers and the vaginal pear for women who had sexual relations with the devil.
Great respect must be given to the medieval torturers, they didn’t disrespect their victims by simply shooting them or messily knifing them, they took pride in what was in some way, their artform. They thought about the human body; how it reacted to certain measures and the best way to inflict those reactions. Praise the Lord that the Medieval ages are well and truly over and that today’s torture chambers are saved for the movies…in most cases.