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.
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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 force-fed milk and honey until they develop a severe case of diarrhea.
All of the 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.
Execution by Elephant
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.
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.
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.
The Spanish Tickler
Burning at the Stake
Also known as the “death by slow cutting” or the “lingering death”, this form of execution was finally outlawed in China at the turn of the 20th century. It involved pieces of the victim’s body being slowly and methodically removed while the executioner tried to keep him or her alive for as long as possible.
Not only inhumane, but the bull was also 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.
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.
Afterward, 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
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.