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Thread: Medieval Torture Methods

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    Post Re: Medieval European torture methods

    Here is a link to a website with quite good descriptions of torture methods during the inquisition.

    http://www.dimensional.com/~randl/racking.htm
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    Methods of Torture: The Wheel

    Execution by the Wheel

    The Medieval period of the Middle Ages was violent, and blood thirsty. In these barbarous times the cruel and pitiless torturers were induced to inflict the horrors of tortures, including the Wheel. Tortures were sometimes followed by execution. Torture and execution methods, devices and instruments were used to inflict the deliberate, systematic, cruel and wanton infliction of physical and mental suffering. There were no laws or rules to protect the treatment of prisoners who faced executions such as being executed on the wheel.

    Method of inflicting the terrible death by the Wheel
    Different types of torture and execution were used depending on the victim's crime and social status. There were also different tortures and execution methods used according to the customs of each country. In France execution by the Wheel was practised and described as follows:

    the Wheel may in truth be considered the most horrible penalty ever invented. This punishment dates from the remotest ages. In almost all cases, the victim had previously to undergo various accessory tortures: sometimes his right hand was cut off, and the mutilated stump was burnt in a cauldron of sulphur; sometimes his arms, thighs, or breasts were lacerated with red-hot pincers, and hot oil, pitch, or molten lead was poured into the wounds. After these horrible preliminaries, a rope was attached to each of the limbs of the criminal, one being bound round each leg from the foot to the knee, and round each arm from the wrist to the elbow. These ropes were then fastened to four bars, to each of which a strong horse was harnessed, as if for towing a barge. These horses were first made to give short jerks; and when the agony had elicited heart-rending cries from the unfortunate man, who felt his limbs being dislocated without being broken, the four horses were all suddenly urged on with the whip in different directions, and thus all the limbs were strained at one moment. If the tendons and ligaments still resisted the combined efforts of the four horses, the executioner assisted, and made several cuts with a hatchet on each joint. When at last, for this horrible torture often lasted several hours - each horse had drawn out a limb, they were collected and placed near the hideous trunk, which often still showed signs of life, and the whole were burned together. Sometimes the sentence was, that the body should be hung to the gibbet, and that the limbs should be displayed on the gates of the town, or sent to four principal towns in the extremities of the kingdom. When this was done, "an inscription was placed on each of the limbs, which stated the reason of its being thus exposed."

    http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/execut...-the-wheel.htm
    http://www.history.com/video.do?name...tid=1592088982

    I watched this last night on the History Channel. They did a demonstration with the wheel and a dummy, wow, what a way to death.

    And, I thought...what if we used these extreme ways of execution now? Would it change behavior? I mean, it is not just prison, and its not just waiting on death row. It is a fast and painful death, among other ways.

    The history of executions is interesting...ehh?
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    The Brazen Bull..


    The brazen bull, or the Sicilian bull, is an execution/torture device designed in ancient Greece.

    Perillos of Athens, a brass-founder[1], proposed to Phalaris, the tyrant of Akragas, Sicily, the invention of a new means for executing criminals; accordingly, he cast a brazen bull, made totally of brass, hollow, with a door in the side. The condemned were shut in the bull and a fire was set under it, heating the metal until it became "yellow hot" and causing the person inside to roast to death. So that 'nothing unseemly might spoil his feasting', Phalaris commanded that the bull be designed in such a way that its smoke rose in spicy clouds of incense. The head of the ox was designed with a complex system of tubes and stops so that the prisoner's screams were converted into sounds like the bellowing of an infuriated bull. It is also said that when the bull was reopened, the scorched bones of the remains shone like jewels and were made into bracelets.

    Phalaris commended the invention, and ordered its horn sound system to be tested by Perillos himself. When Perillos entered, he was immediately locked in, and the fire was set, so that Phalaris could hear the sound of his screams.

    Before Perillos could die, Phalaris opened the door and took him away. Perillos believed he would receive a reward for his invention; instead, after freeing him from the bull, Phalaris threw him from the top of a hill, killing him. Phalaris himself is said to have been killed in the brazen bull when he was overthrown by Telemachus.

    The Romans were recorded as having used this torture device to kill some Christian martyrs, notably Saint Eustace, who, according to Christian tradition, was roasted in a brazen bull with his wife and children by the Emperor Hadrian, and Saint Antipas, Bishop of Pergamum during the persecutions of Emperor Domitian, and the first martyr in Asia Minor, roasted to death in a brazen bull in c.92; his tomb became a site of supposed miracles.

    Another Christian martyr, Saint Pelagia of Tarsus, is said to have been burned in a brazen bull in 287 by the Emperor Diocletian.

    The satirist Lucian, in the 2nd century A.D., is said to have given the first detailed description of the creation and use of the Brazen Bull.

    The bull is mentioned in Dante's Inferno.[1]
    ..

    I find "that the prisoner's screams were converted into sounds like the bellowing of an infuriated bull" to be amazing. There seems to be some very deep symbolic meaning behind it all.

    Later,
    -Lyfing

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    In a day and age where morbidity is on the rise, a whole new meaning could, thanks to this method of torture, be given to that olde saying "Re-inventing The Wheel"

    'Scuse my childishness, but it had to be for once.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    It hardly seems a fast death! Though compared to Death Row I guess it would be. Maybe I'm just a little squeamish but I found it difficult enough to read that description! I don't think I could handle knowing that my country was carrying this cruel and torturous method of execution out!!

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    We could put it on pay-per-view and use that to fund our criminal justice system
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    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." --Ben Franklin

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    I saw an exhibit of torture devices in Prague and later San Francisco, and in both cases, the wheel referred to something else, and something much more horrible. The description above, unless I'm missing something, is misnamed and should be "drawn and quartered."

    The wheel doesn't involve a horse at all. It involves crushing the ligaments of the arms and legs with a steel-tipped wagon wheel of a person who has been tied to some sharp bars on the ground until that person's joints can be bent back and forth and in any number of directions. The person's ruined limbs are then twisted through the spokes of a wheel which they are tied to, and the wheel, with the person attached to it, is hoisted on a pole and left to die.

    A few days later, the person either died from exposure, thirst, or mice and birds. Here is an illustration:


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    Hmm, yes, that wasn't the wheel.

    Here another picture of the execution by the wheel. It was practiced in this country too, as a historical punishment of the Revolt of Horea, Cloşca and Crişan.



    Breaking on the wheel was a form of torturous execution formerly in use, especially in ancient Greece (where it originated), France, Germany, Sweden, colonial Louisiana (pre-United States), and Russia.

    The wheel was typically a large wooden wagon wheel with many radial spokes, but a wheel was not always used. In some cases the condemned was lashed to the wheel and beaten with a club or iron cudgel, with the gaps in the wheel allowing the cudgel to break through. Alternatively, the condemned was spreadeagled and broken on a St Andrew's cross consisting of two wooden beams nailed in an "X" shape , after which the victim's mangled body might be displayed on the wheel. In the execution of the parricide Franz Seuboldt in Nuremberg on 22 September 1589, a wheel was used as a cudgel: the executioner used wooden blocks to raise Seuboldt's limbs, then broke them by slamming a wagon wheel down onto the limb.

    In France the condemned were placed on a cart-wheel with their limbs stretched out along the spokes over two sturdy wooden beams. The wheel was made to revolve slowly, and a large hammer or an iron bar was then applied to the limb over the gap between the beams, breaking the bones. This process was repeated several times per limb. Sometimes it was 'mercifully' ordered that the executioner should strike the criminal on chest and stomach, blows known as coups de grâce (French: "blow of mercy"), which caused lethal injuries, leading to the end of the torture by death; without those, the broken man could take hours, even days, before shock and dehydration caused death. In France, a special grace, the retentum, could be granted, by which the condemned was strangled after the second or third blow, or in special cases, even before the breaking began. Afterwards, the condemned's shattered limbs were woven ('braiden') through the spokes of the wheel, which was then hoisted onto a tall pole so that birds could eat the sometimes still-living individual.

    In early modern Germany, the wheel was punishment reserved primarily for males convicted of aggravated murder (murder committed during another crime, or against a family member). Less severe offenders would be cudgelled 'top down', with the first blow to the neck, causing death; more heinous criminals were punished 'bottom up', starting with the legs, and sometimes being beaten for hours. The number and sequence of blows was specified in the court's sentence. Corpses were left for carrion-eaters, and the criminals' heads often placed on a spike.

    Legend has it that St Catherine of Alexandria was to be executed on one of these devices, which thereafter became known as the Catherine wheel, also used as an iconographic attribute.

    The breaking wheel was used to execute 11 slaves in Louisiana who revolted against their masters in 1730-1754.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaking_wheel

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    The problem I would have with such methods of execution being used today (I have no issue with their historical use) is the potential for unrest and opposition among the general population. If we want the death penalty to be a part of our modern-day judicial system, and for it to be used frequently, which is what I want, then it needs to achieve a certain level of legitimacy in the eyes of the public. This task is made alot easier by using methods that do not make very good material for any sort of sensationalist tabloid news-paper articles of the kind that we could expect to see if we were to pursue the use of execution-methods of the kind described in previous posts.

    Justice should be delivered swiftly by the state and it should take no obvious malign pleasure from the task of removing the criminal from the societal body, which is in itself a just and necessary act in the pursuit of justice and security. The handling and execution needs to be done in a clinical manner, out of public view, reinforcing an image of cold professionalism and beaurocratic efficiency (oxymoron? ) that is not influenced by emotion.

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    Here another picture of the execution by the wheel. It was practiced in this country too, as a historical punishment of the Revolt of Horea, Cloşca and Crişan.
    Do I understand correctly that they were dissatisfied with the political dominance of the German-speaking populations (Sachsen; to some extent Landler, Banatschwaben) and that's why they revolted? Well, then they certainly deserved the Wheel. No one messes with Germans unpunished, whether Reichsdeutsche or Volksdeutsche - let the world hear that!
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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