The 8 Most Painful Torture Devices Of The Middle Ages

Published September 30, 2011
Updated November 5, 2020

The Wooden Horse

The Wooden Horse

The wooden horse, the wooden pony or the Spanish donkey, is the name given to an extremely painful torture device used throughout history, particularly during the American colonial period and medieval times. There are three variations of the device, however, the principle and design are the same.

The wooden device is triangular in shape and angled, often sharpened at the top. The victim is forced to straddle the triangular ‘horse’, placing their full body weight on their vulva, with additional weights added to their ankles to keep them from falling off.

Needless to say, the additional weight would pull the victim’s entire body down severely injuring their crotch, and sometimes even slicing it in half — making it one of the most brutal torture devices ever.

The Judas Cradle

Judas Cradle

Similar to the wooden horse, the Judas cradle was a pyramid-shaped and sharpened device, on which a victim was lowered via ropes. As the victim was lowered, the device would slowly tear open their anus, vulva or scrotum.

Though the device is often attributed to the Spanish Inquisition, there is evidence that it existed before this time as part of carnival sideshows.

Medieval Torture Devices

Videos On Medieval Torture Devices

If you enjoyed reading about the most painful torture devices of the middle ages, head over to the most painful medicine and medical procedures of Medieval times and our collection of interesting facts. Finally, read up on the five worst ways to die.

All That's Interesting
All That's Interesting is a Brooklyn-based digital publisher that seeks out stories that illuminate the past, present, and future.