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.



Practiced by Samurai, Seppuku was a form of ritualistic suicide that allowed the warrior to die honorably. Essentially he would disembowel himself and in an ideal situation there would be a close friend standing by ready to behead him as soon as his guts began to spill.


Brazen Bull


Not only inhumane, the bull was deliberately created for the enjoyment of the executioner and onlookers. First proposed to the tyrant of Akgragas in Sicily by the metal worker Pirillos, the bull was designed to be big enough for one person to fit inside. After a fire was lit below, the person would slowly burn to death. The head of the bull, however, was designed to acoustically convert their screams into “bull sounds” and the smoke from their burning body would be expelled through its nose.


Colombian Necktie


Employed heavily in Colombia (go figure) and the rest of Latin America by drug cartels, we spared you the picture on this one. It involved cutting open the victim’s throat and then pulling his or her tongue out through the opening. Usually the body was left as a warning to others.




A particularly brutal method of execution practiced primarily by the Romans, it was intended to be as slow, painful, and humiliating as possible. Usually after a prolonged period of beating or torture, the victim was forced to carry his own cross to the location of his death. Afterwards they were either nailed or tied to the cross where they would hang sometimes for several weeks. Death, when it did come, usually came by suffocation as the victim could no longer hold themselves up to breathe.


Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered

hanged, drawn, and quartered

Used mainly in England, it is widely considered to be one of the most brutal forms of execution ever devised. As the name implies it came in three parts. In the first the victim was tied to a wooden frame and dragged to the location of their execution (drawn). They were then hung until nearly dead (hanged). Immediately after being taken down their abdomen was opened and their entrails were removed. As the victim watched they were then burned before his or her eyes. He was then also emasculated and eventually beheaded. After all of this his body was divided into four parts (quartered) and placed in various locations around England as a public crime deterrent. This punishment was only used on men for any convicted woman would generally be burnt at the stake as a matter of decency.

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