The Most Brutal Punishments In History

10 Worst Punishments From History 10 Hung, Drawn and Quartered Now, this might be the best-known entry on this list, as the notorious punishment for high treason in the UK and parts of western Europe

Perhaps most notably, it fell on well-known figures like Guy Fawkes and the men responsible for the regicide of King Charles I Though you might have heard the term a lot, what does it actually mean? Well first up, recipients of the punishment would be hanged from the gallows in a much slower manner than would usually be the case, to prevent ACTUAL death That said, Guy Fawkes dodged the worst of it when he died at that stage, so suck it, establishment From there, they would have their internal organs cut from their bodies, and then their corpses bodies would get cut into 4 – hence the ‘quartered’ in “hung, drawn and quartered” But that’s not all! Their leftover chunks would finally be put on display as a warning to others, with the head often placed on a pike outside the Tower of London for that extra cliche factor

9 Elephant Trampling On the whole, humans are undoubtedly the most dangerous animals on the planet You only have to look at the fact that we’re capable of killing animals many times our size, but the fact that we’re currently killing THE ENTIRE PLANET But when it comes to raw killing power per animal, elephants certainly have the potential – even if not the inclination That’s unless they’ve been trained to do the bidding of those in power – in other words, scabs

Yep, throughout the history of East Asia, there are records of leaders using elephants as executioners That could either be through slow crushing or quick trampling, sometimes adorning their feet with blades – it all depends on how they were trained This whole affair wasn’t just to be needlessly brutal – it was also used by leaders as a demonstration of their power not just over other people, but over nature itself It was even adopted by Rome and Carthage That said, such power apparently didn’t extend to colonial forces, since the practice was stamped out – pardon the pun – by the British Empire, who saw it as barbaric

8 Boiling Now this one is pretty simple Much like potatoes, eggs or lobsters, it has apparently been the case that humans have been subject to a good boiling over history too – but not quite for the same reasons Across history, we’ve seen this incredibly simple, relentlessly cruel method used to make execution as painful as possible – whether by water, oil, molten lead, wax, tallow, or even wine! Though I suppose there’s a chance that was just a mulling gone wrong Most notably, the UK passed an act in 1531 making boiling the statutory punishment for poisoning, which was considered a form of petty treason

That tended to come up quite a lot since Tudor-era servants had a habit of trying to kill their masters in the kitchen – like Richard Rouse, a cook who tried to kill the Bishop of Rochester with poisoned yeast in the household porridge That might be the most British assassination attempt in history by the way But much more disturbingly, this method has been used as recently as 2002 by the Uzbekistani government, who used it as a form of torture 7 Rat Torture Now you may have seen this happen on Game of Thrones, the show with the worst ending since Dexter

But that’s for a very good reason since George RR Martin is pretty well known for his historical accuracy, to a fault you might say But let’s step back for a second, since not everyone has seen the show, including my scriptwriter Rat torture was indeed a real thing in Medieval society

Torturers would affix a bucket containing to their unfortunate victim’s stomach, then apply heat to it The idea was that as the rat began to overheat and panic, it would use its incredibly sharp claws and teeth to burrow into the body Sometimes, as a little bonus, it would crawl out of the anus Perhaps the most brutal thing about this is that even if the torture isn’t legal, there’s a good chance the rat will give the victim a pretty dire infection – which might very well be worse, should they survive And while history gives distance, reports say it’s been happening shockingly recently, for example by Augusto Pinochet during his dictatorship in Chile

6 Skin Chair While a good deal of this list discusses practices that were generally popular over a certain time frame, this one is a bit different since it’s an account of a VERY specific, EXTREMELY graphic punishment After you know the story, you’ll get why it can’t have happened all that often – if it did at all According to Herodotus, one of the premiere historians of Ancient Greece between 484 and 425 BC, Cambyses II of Persia had a bit of a problem on his hands The second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire had learned that one of his judges named Sisamnes had accepted a Bribe

So, as punishment for that corruption, Cambyses II had him arrested and flayed alive While that’s pretty brutal to begin with, but lacking flair if you asked me Wait, sorry, not flair – chair Cambyses seemed to agree since he had the Sisamnes’ skin fastened over a chair and he made the judge’s son preside over the court Yes, you heard, SITTING ON HIS FATHER’S SKIN

And bonus fact, you can see the scene up close in a painting in Bruges City Hall Now that’s dark tourism 5 Vestal Virgins’ Live Burial Like much of the ancient world, including the Greeks who they massively ripped off, the Roman Empire was deeply invested in its religious traditions, including its many, many cults dedicated to the wide array of deities Perhaps the most important cult among them was that of Vesta – goddess of the hearth, home and family

So naturally, her priestesses were just as highly revered The Vestal Virgins, as they were called, were tasked with keeping Rome’s sacred flame alight constantly, and as part of their position they had to adhere to a 30-year vow of celibacy to retain their ‘purity’ Yeah, that old chestnut But if the priestesses didn’t uphold their vow, they’d face a truly unbecoming punishment – being buried alive You might think the Roman Empire would be much more bloody with its brutality, especially with such a betrayal, but instead, the Virgins took the view that the best way to maintain their OWN purity was to let the Earth do the killing

4 Scaphism As seen, Ancient Persia had a talent for disturbingly cruel takes on justice – at least that it’s if you believe the Greeks, who weren’t their biggest fans But beyond the skin chair, let’s look another penalty which wasn’t as flashy, but perhaps even more heartless – Scaphism First, the victim would be placed on one or between two boats – which I hear was a rejected pitch for a much darker Zack Galifinakis comedy show, by the way Next, they would be fed and covered in milk and honey, which is starting to make this sound like a recipe rather than a torture method

But it’s a pretty easy recipe, since, well, that’s it! The victim is left in that state to rot and fester, particularly thanks to the combination of lying in your own excrement and devouring by insects over the course of DAYS But all that said, there’s spurious evidence for this ACTUALLY happening, since Plutarch – the chief source on this matter – cited Ctesias for this story, and he was about as trustworthy as Fox News 3 Poena Cullei Boy, the Romans did love their cruel and unusual punishment – it’s almost like it was a tyrannical dictatorship or something But while many of the acts of the Roman Empire were driven by calculated malice, apparently they sometimes just got a bit weird with it

Poena Cullei fits that bill to a tee Also known as the ‘penalty of the sack’, this isn’t getting fired as the name might suggest It’s actually the practice of sewing someone up into a leather sack and throwing them into a body of water, and was usually the punishment for patricide Oh (presenter), I hear you say, what’s so weird about that? It just sounds horrid Well, that’s not the half of it

The victim wasn’t the only inhabitant of the sack – they’d be thrown in with an assortment of live animals, for example, a dog, snake, monkey, and a chicken So not only would you be fighting for breath with no escape, you might very well have an angry primate smacking you on the head or clawing at your face as you go That’s my nightmares changed forever 2 Impalement This one’s pretty straightforward

Pointy stick hurt NUMBER 16 No just kidding But seriously, impalement has a long, long history as a direct, devastating and particularly intimidating form of execution In particular, it was seen throughout medieval Europe and the Ottoman empire

And while it seems like a simple, no-nonsense method – there was actually a great deal of variation when it came to impalement That could be down to whether you pierce the organs for a quick kill or follow the spinal column for an excruciatingly long death, or it could be a variation like bamboo torture or hanging the body from a hook But perhaps the best-known purveyor of pointy poking was Vlad the Impaler – the three-time Voivode of Wallachia and Romanian national hero During his 15th century reign, Vlad extensively impaled his foes – originally just political enemies but eventually almost anyone who displeased him In fact, he was known to have repelled an invasion by displaying a so-called “forest of the impaled,” which, by the way, is an EXCELLENT band name

1 Blood Eagle At this point, it’s pretty obvious that history is brutal But this one takes it to a whole new level – a level generally occupied by the heaviest of heavy metal bands I’m talking Slayer, Pissgrave and, most importantly, BLOOD EAGLE That’s not just a band, historical accounts suggest it’s a real Viking execution method

Around the 9th century, this now notorious punishment had a VERY specific order of events First, you score the shape of an eagle into the victim’s back, then you open them up, pull their ribs out backwards to resemble wings and splay their extracted lungs OVER their ribs Yep, you heard that right Do NOT mess with Vikings This was said to have been done to Ælla, king of Northumbria in 867 by Ivarr the Boneless, as vengeance for the killing of his father Ragnarr Lodbrok, which we saw adapted in History Channel’s Vikings

But that said, like with a lot of the History channel’s content, the truth in this method is a matter of historical debate, as sources from the Viking period are relatively scant

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