Medieval Torture and Punishments

In the history books, the torture devices and other forms of punishment regarding the medieval times are known as some of the most creatively brutal of all time. From burning the soles of feet to stretching the limbs of victims beyond repair, this article will highlight some of the methods of punishment used during the medieval times.


Burning the feet of a victim over a fire was another method of torture used to gain answers. The feet were rubbed with lard, oil or grease before being placed over the fire. A screen was sued to control or increase the pain by regulating exposure to the fire. Another way torturers would question their victims was to strap them into large leather or metal boots, where boiling water or molten lead was poured inside to evoke pain.

The Cage

Victims were also placed into small boxes called ‘cages,’ for time periods that could linger on for years. The majority of the cages were hung from the ceiling, while other times, the cages would sit on the floor.

The Pear of Anguish

During the Middle Ages, the Pear of Anguish was a method of torturing women who had a miscarriage and was also used to punish liars, blasphemers, and those who had engaged in homosexual acts. The instrument was shaped like a pear and was inserted into the mouth of liars, vagina of women or anus of homosexuals. Four leaves that slowly separated from one another were controlled by the turn of a screw located at the top of the device. One could suffer a tearing of the skin or the maximum expansion of the pear would lead to mutilation of the victim. The Pear of Anguish came is varied sizes and was not used to cause death. It was often used in addition to other forms of torture.  

Judas Cradle

Ropes and chains were used to pull a victim up that was undergoing torture with Judas Cradle. The torturer who had weights attached to the victim controlled the pressure of the punishment. The weights were then rocked or raising , causing the victim to drop from various heights.


During medieval times, whipping (also known as flagellation) was a common form of punishment because it was a quick way to inflict pain to criminals and other victims. Depending on the crime committed, there was a specific whip used. The majority of the whips were comprised of a single strand of leather attached to a handle. Other whips that existed during this time included three tail whips and whips made out of chains.


A whip or cane would be used to hit the soles of the feet as a form of punishment. To add to the pain, some victims were forced to walk with weights attached to their bodies after suffering a beating.


One of the most basic forms of torturing a victim during the Inquisition was to use a pair of handcuffs to hang an individual in one place for hours upon hours. The pressure on the wrists was excruciatingly painful and often caused victims to tell their questioners anything they wanted to hear.