25 of Humanity’s Most Brutal Methods of Execution

Posted by on December 16, 2011

Consider yourself lucky. If you are reading this you most likely not only live in a society blessed by a functioning legal system you also probably live in a society in which that system makes an attempt to fairly and efficiently deliver justice, especially in the case of capital punishment. For most of history rather than capital punishment being focused on ending life it was focused on drawing it out long enough that the victim would be put through as much hell-on-earth as possible. So, in order to help you count your blessings we are bringing you 25 of humanity’s most brutal methods of execution.



An ancient Persian method of execution where a person is stripped naked and placed in a tree trunk with only the head, hands, and feet protruding. They are then forced fed milk and honey until they develop a severe case of diarrhea. All of there exposed skin would then be covered in honey to attract insects while they were left floating in a stagnant pond. As the person’s feces accumulated, the insects it attracted would begin to eat and breed within his/her skin which would become increasingly gangrenous. Death could take over 2 weeks and was likely the result of starvation, dehydration, and shock.



Conceived in the late 1700′s this was one of the first methods of execution created under the assumption that capital punishment was intended to end life rather than inflict pain (successor to #11). Although it was specifically invented as a human form of execution it has been outlawed in France and the last one was in 1977.


Republican Marriage

A strange form of execution allegedly practiced in France it involved the tying of a man and woman together and then both of them being thrown in a river to drown.


Cement Shoes


A method of execution preferred by the American mafia, it was similar to Republican Marriage in that it involved drowning but instead of being tied to someone of the opposite gender, your feet were placed in cement blocks.


Execution by Elephant

Employed heavily in southeast asia, the elephants were often trained to prolong the death of the victim. Many times this method was used in order to show that the ruler is even in command of nature.


Walking the Plank


You’re probably getting tired of people being thrown into the water, but this form of execution many times ended a little differently from the previous two. Mainly practiced by pirates and rogue seafarers the victims often didn’t even have time to drown before they were dealt with by the sharks that tended to follow the ships.



Bestiarii is a reference to those who would combat beasts in the days of Ancient Rome. Although sometimes the act was voluntary and performed for money or recognition, many times the bestearii were political prisoners sent into the arena naked and unable to defend themselves.



Named after the implement used in the execution, usually a mallet, this method of capital punishment was popular in the papal states during the 18th century. The condemned would be led to a scaffold in a public square with nothing more than the executioner and a coffin. The executioner would then raise the mallet and bring it down on the head of the victim. Because this would typically only lead to them being stunned their throat was usually slit right after.


Upright Jerker


Having originated in the United States, this method of capital punishment is now often employed in countries like Iran. Although it is very similar to hanging, rather than the victim being dropped through a trap door to sever the spinal cord they are violently jerked upwards, typically by a crane.



Allegedly practiced in parts of Europe and Asia, it involved the victim being inverted and then sawn in half starting at the groin. Due to being upside down the brain would receive enough blood to keep the person conscious until the large vessels of the abdomen were severed.



The act of removing a person’s skin from their body, this form of execution was often used in order to stir up fear, as the skin would typically be nailed in a public place for all to see.


Blood Eagle

Spoken of in Nordic sagas, the Blood Eagle involved cutting the ribs of the victim by the spine, breaking them so they resembled wings, and then pulling the victim’s lungs out through the opening. Salt would then be sprinkled on the wound.Drawing done by Cate Richards, www.caterichards.net


The Gridiron

Essentially broiling the victim over a bed of hot coals, the first “burning” method on our list was terribly cruel and the death was not a quick one.



Although we have already seen this method employed by means of elephants, there is so much more to be said here. Crushing was typically used in Europe or America in order to extract a plea from a victim. Every time the victim refused, more weight was added to their chest until fatal suffocation would occur.


Breaking Wheel

Also known as the Catherine Wheel, the victim would be tied to it and then spun while the executioner delivered bone shattering blows to their body. Sometimes the victims appendages would then be woven through the spokes of the wheel and they would be placed on display for all to see.

David Pegg


After helping found the United Nations, the United States, and United Airlines, David consigned himself to a transient life of writing lists and sleeping on park benches.

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  • Colly Wolinski

    The guillotine was hardly “brutal” given that it involved an immediate death.
    Seppuku isn’t even execution, as you mention in the item, it’s suicide.
    And the “drawn” part of being hung, drawn and quartered refers to the insides of the executee being drawn out from their body ie evisceration. If it referred to what you suggest, the term would be “drawn, hung and quartered”.
    I’d also suggest necklacing, famously practised by Brazilian drug cartels, should be in here.
    In short, do some research next time you attempt a list like this

  • Joe Mommar

    History will show the worse type of torture to be death by Obama this will be shown to kill the American Dream and the follow up prospect of Hillary after it should put the nail in the coffin

  • Manish

    Inhumane no matter how greivious the crime, especially sawing

  • Michael Mackinnon

    Rather than walking the plank i believe that Keel Hauling was used, not sure if it was pirates that used it or the navy, but its a pretty nasty way to go

  • Sean MacDonald

    The list is interesting, the grammar.. not so much.

  • Mickey

    Wot? No impalement? One of the most horrific ways to die, and should be in your list with burning at the stake and crucifixion.

    The victim would be strapped face down, maybe with someone sitting on top of them on a saddle so they couldn’t move, then their legs would be pulled apart by ropes. A long wooden stake, about three metres long would be cut, sharpened at one end and greased with lard. The other end would be thicker, to act as a secure base. The sharp end would be introduced into the rectum and then carefully hammered through the body, pushing aside the internal organs until it reached the shoulder, where it emerged from a slit cut with a knife. The victim, now skewered “like a lamb on a spit” would be raised upright and the base placed into the hole in the ground, packed with stone so the stake would remain upright. All this was done very gently, to avoid jolting the victim internally. The victim’s ankles would be lashed to the stake to prevent slippage. A strong man could last maybe two or three days, in agony all the while.

    My source is John Man’s biography of Attila the Hun, pp 141 – 142.

  • Richard Smart

    Then we have the Nazis and their death camps – undoubtedly the worst genocide ever, even if the actual method of executions were relatively painless. Such cruel, inhuman bastards, it’s a pity that they all died relatively quick and painless deaths. Hitler was the ultimate bastard and deserved something much more painful than what he got – taking cyanide was much too easy for that piece of shit.

    • Ted Minteitz

      Of course, we have the Chinese and Russian genocides which combined, took almost 10x the lives and were extremely brutal. They eliminated the equivalent of 1/3 of the current US population. However, the ‘ethnic cleansings’ of the twentieth century were most likely the most hideous aspects of our species. Execution methods so brutal they are never mentioned in these type of lists. Absolute depravity. Hitler? Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Tojo, Charles Taylor, Mobutu… Imagine Osama Bin Ladin as President of the US. That’s what those people were.
      BTW, the Hitler shot himself with a Walther PPK, although many in the bunker died from cyanide, including Eva Braun and Goebbels killing his entire family. Good times.

      • #3

        Hitler did not die in Germany, he escaped and lived to old age. Research it. Greatest atrocity of our generation and the perp gets away. Sad

    • Bruce Williams

      Hi Richard I totally agree with re A Hitler and how he should have been punished / executed I understand that the Soviets who of course would have been his captors had “The Beast ” lived had a plan in place to keep “IT”
      healthy and to place him in a mobile cage to be towed throughout the Nazi areas of invasion in Eastern Europe & Russia itself.

      The cage was to resemble a lion’s circus cage upon the roof of which was to be constructed a “lavatory” with a pipe connected to the “Fuehrer ” who would have been tethered in a spot directly beneath the outlet of the toilet above the idea was to offer persons whose families, friends etc had been murdered because of ethnicity or religion or physical impairment the great option of defecating or urinating on dear Adolf’s evil head.

      The Russians, realizing the huge numbers of applicants for this pleasant duty would require the use of a ballot for fairness it was also planned that Hitler would be informed before each ” dunking ” who the person was who was to befoul him and what perceived defect they had.

      The Soviet Doctors estimated that he ( Hitler ) could possibly endure up to three years of this
      treatment before dying. Which would have been just punishment !!


  • Richard Smart

    I personally think that the blood eagle would be the worst way to die. It sounds absolutely horrific, if it ever actually happened. Saving that, Ling-Chi was absolutely horrific, and really did happen – try Googling it – the results are pretty shocking and disgusting.

  • Meer

    There is also a method which is called stoning. It is when the person is tied to something very hard and then people throw stones at the victim so the victim is injured severely and dies.

    • Richard Smart

      If you Google stoning, you can see videos of it taking place – pretty horrific, and utterly barbaric.

    • Tamra Short

      stoning is still used extensevilly in some extrem middle eastern countries. there are cases of women who disobeyed there husband or father what ever. it is a form of honor killing among other things.

  • Clement

    About crucifixion

    The romans used just a pole instead of a cross, (why go through the trouble?)
    the hands were fastened above the head with just 1 nail.
    With hands to the side, you can fall asleep (as seen in the movie Conan the Barbarian, although that might not be a factual depiction),
    but with your hands above your head, you suffocate if you don’t push yourself up with your feet,
    that’s why they broke the legs (of the thieves next to Jesus) to speed up their death so their bodies could be disposed of before the first annual Holy Day.

    It was the Catholics that changed it into a cross, which resembles the T of Tammuz, son/reincarnation of Nimrod, who was born on December 25th,
    so that they could continue to use the T as a symbol.

    The cross is in origin not a mistake, it’s a lie.

    • Jim

      Ok Joho! Lol. You’ve been drinking too much watchtower kool-aid! The cross in its present form has always been a Christian symbol right from the beginning! Just check out any ancient church archeology. Also, Constantine outlawed Crucifixion in the 4th century – which were still practiced until that time. He clearly understood Roman Crucifixion to be cross shaped – not a “torture stake” as “Jehovah’s Witnesses” erroneously claim.

      • JimmyJam048

        LOL, I need to save this and show it to some of my JW friends.

    • Caspian

      False. There’s a big difference between a cross & a stake, the Romans crucified Christ using the Latin Cross, a popular form of executed for punishing grave offenders, it was also the same symbol Constantine the Great saw in the sky which made him convert to Christianity.

      Catholics did not invent the Cross, such claim is fallacious. The Cross is also used by other branches of Christianity such as the Western & Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Christians, Ethiopian Christians etc. not just Catholics.

      Tammuz was a pagan god worshiped by non-Christians who lived in the Roman Empire, the ancient Christians do not worship such deity it would be against the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church and the Christian faith in general.

      • JimmyJam048

        Thank you for revaling Caspain to b a fibber.

  • peter stanford

    wow, humans, huh? you don’t want too many of them around.

  • Zoosmell Pooplord

    Wow, the bamboo one must have hurt badly. o_o

  • Fred

    Walking the plank is incorrect as pirates never made people walk the plank

  • Eric Croes

    I expected no.1 method to be having somebody listen to Justin Bieber songs while being tied up. That’s the worse way of dying.

  • Elmanop

    Wow those are pretty horrid. I wish I could get a better understanding of the blood eagle, though.

    • Richard Smart

      Google it – there’s quite a lot of information about it online. If it ever took place, which isn’t certain. Then again, if you want real gore, try Googling Mexican drug executions – that’s just about the worst thing you can watch online. Have a look at Bestgore.com or BorderlandBeat.com if you want real video nasties.

  • Jorge Carcamo

    Creepy and sick way to die. Imagine living in the era of the Spanish Inquisition. Ouch!!! Sad as it may sound,some of these methods DO happen in this day of age.

  • hahah

    Actually, walking the plank is very rare as most pirates just throw their victim overboard if they got tired of them.

    • Meer

      The victim can even swim (if he/she knows) if not tied.

  • Persephone Hallows

    Hmm, the only one I didn’t know about was 25. I must be more morbid than I thought…

  • Ian

    Frightening,brutal, awesome and more.We are a succession of of evil civilizations throughout the years.
    Loved it!

  • daniel

    that was, indeed some scary, scary stuff. leave it to people to come up with creative, yet horrifying ideas.

  • Joey Dern

    Wow thats some pretty scary stuff dude.