25 Most Brutal Torture Techniques Ever Devised in History

Posted by on May 22, 2013

Torture has been a brutal reality for many unfortunate people. But the most unsettling fact about torture’s brutality isn’t its existence, but the way people have injected a perverted sense of creativity (and even pleasure) into the creation of devices designed to inflict pain. To prove our point here are the 25 most brutal torture techniques ever devised.


Republican Marriage

Besides the guillotine and burning at the stake, this act of torture was employed by Jean-Baptiste Carrier during the French Revolution. It involved binding naked males and females together and then throwing them into icy waters to drown. When water was unavailable, they would just be run through with swords or bayonets. This was the preferred method used to execute nuns and priests during that time.


The Breaking Wheel

Also known as the Catherine Wheel, this is a torture device use to slowly kill the victim. First, the victim’s limbs were tied to the spokes of a large wooden wheel which would then be slowly revolved as the torturer simultaneously smashed the victim’s limbs with an iron hammer to break them in numerous places. As the bones were broken, the victim would be left on the wheel to die or could be place on top of a tall pole so the birds could feed on their flesh while still alive. This was slow indeed since it could have taken days before the victims would die from dehydration.  Sometimes, a coups de grace (blow of mercy) was employed by ordering the executioner to deal a fatal blow on the victim’s chest and stomach to end their agony.


Spanish Donkey

One of the torture devices during the Spanish Inquisition, this is probably one of the most gruesome of them all. The victim is put astride, naked, on a donkey-like apparatus, which is actually a vertical wooden board with a sharp V-wedge on top of it. After that, the torturer would add varying weights to the victim’s feet until finally the wedge sliced through the victim’s body.


Saw Torture

In this method, the victim is hung upside down, so that the blood will rush to their heads and keep them conscious during the long torture. The torturer would then saw through the victims’ bodies until they were completely sawed in half. Most were cut up only in their abdomen to prolong their agony.


Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered

During medieval times, the penalty for high treason in England was to be hanged, drawn and quartered in public and though it was abolished in 1814, it has been responsible for the death of thousands of people. In this torture technique, the victim is dragged in a wooden frame called a hurdle to the place of execution. They would then be hanged by the neck for a short period of time until they are near-death (hanged),  followed by disembowelment and castration where the entrails and genitalia are burned in front of the victim (drawn). The victim would then be divided into four separate parts and beheaded (quartered).