Horrific tortures and executions of the past may still live to this day

Most horrific types of torture in history

In distant past, people did not think about such issue as the humane treatment of criminals. Quite on the contrary, people would invent most sophisticated types of torture to make suspects speak. Executions would be conducted in public to horrify and intimidate others.  


This is probably the most widely known type of torture. It is believed that the rack was first used in around 300 AD on Christian martyr Vincent of Zaragoza. Subsequently, the rack was widely used by the medieval Inquisition.

A person would be put on a special bed with rollers at both ends. Ropes would be wound around the rollers to hold the victim's wrists and ankles. As the rollers would rotate, the ropes would stretch in opposite directions, severing ligaments in upper and lower extremities of the victim and displacing their bones. 

In another version of the rack, the victim's hands would be tied behind his or her back, and the person would then be suspended on the rope from a crossbar between two posts. The feet would often be tied together, so that the victim could not move them. As the rack worked, the victim's arms tied behind the back would be twisted out of the joints. 

In Russia, the rack had also found application. The victim on the rack would also be whipped on the back and tortured with fire. Sometimes, if the victim kept silence, the executioner would crush his or her ribs with red-hot pincers.

Burying alive 

In Russia, the torture of burying alive in the ground would be used only against women accused of manicide. The poor wretch would be buried in the ground up to her neck, and the specially assigned guards would then watch that no one would give her food or water. People were only allowed to throw small coins, which would then be used to commemorate the soul of the executed. This kind of torture could last for days or even weeks. 

Metal implantation

This torture was used in the Middle Ages. An incision would be made on the victim's body, and a piece of metal would be placed into the wound that would be subsequently stitched up. The metal would start to oxidate in a while, thus causing unbearable pain to the victim. The pain could be so strong that a person would tear their own flesh to pull out the piece of metal just to die of blood loss. 


This torture was used by medieval inquisitors during the trials of "witches". The pectoral itself was something like a bra, which was usually made of precious metals and could be encrusted with precious stones.

The executioner would heat the pectoral red-hot and put it to the breast of the woman accused of witchcraft. The executioner would repeat it several times until the unfortunate woman would "plead guilty." Victims would very often have their breasts completely charred in this torture. 


This type of execution was widely practiced in the East. The tied victim would be impaled on a stake that would be hammered into the victim's anus. The stake with the victim on it would then be installed straight up into the ground. Gravity and convulsions would cause the victim to slide down the stake slowly. The tip of the stake would then come out from between the ribs or even from the mouth, causing the victim to die from numerous ruptures of internal organs. 

In Russia, this type of execution would often be used against, for example, rebels and traitors.

Cradle of Judas

This torture was used by the Spanish Inquisition. The victim, with his or her hands and feet tied, would be seated on top of a pointed pyramid so that the top of it would stick into the anus or vagina. Gradually, with the help of ropes, the victim on the pointed pyramid would be lowered towards the floor.

The torture could last from several hours to several days, until the victim would die of pain or blood loss due to the rupture of soft tissues. One could also die from infections, as the tip of the pyramid was never disinfected.

Red Tulip

It is believed that this is how Afghan guerrillas executed captured Russian soldiers. Before starting the execution procedure, guerrillas would drug the victim to reduce his sensitivity to pain, as they wanted the prisoner to experience the torture completely.

After the soldier was unconscious due to narcotic intoxication, he would be hung down by his arms. His skin would be incised just below the abdomen in a circle around his waist. Afterwards, the skin would be ripped off the body, pulled up the torso and tied above the head. Visually, the execution made the victim look like a red tulip. As the effect of the drugs would pass, the victim would slowly come to his senses to experience nothing but unbearable pain. Some of the victims would stay alive for a few hours, dying a long and painful death. 

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Author`s name Andrey Mihayloff
Editor Dmitry Sudakov