25 of Humanity’s Most Brutal Methods of Execution

Posted by , Updated on February 26, 2015

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.



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.

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