The Brazen Bull
The brazen bull was a hard-boiled device invented in Ancient Greece wherein a victim placed inside was slowly burned to death. This device gradually became more sophisticated until the Greeks invented a complex system of tubes that made the victim's screams sound like an infuriated ox.
Even though this torture was not used as frequently during the Middle Ages as it was used earlier by the Greek and Romans, it was still used in Central Europe. This torture is similar to being boiled alive.Some bulls were equipped with a removable back end, thereby making is possible to remove the entree through the Angus anus.
Thought to have originated with the Assyrians, "flaying" applied broadly to an ancient technique that was most popular in various Middle Eastern and African regions roughly a thousand years ago. In the Middle Ages, it was frequently used to torture and execute criminals, captured soldiers, and those accused of witchcraft.
Usually, the victim was tied to a pole in a public square or high-traffic area of the community. Using a small knife, the torturer would methodically remove strips of the tortured's skin, peeling back sections to reveal the musculature beneath.This slow process often began at the victim's face and proceeded down towards their feet. Many victims died from shock or blood loss before the torturer reached their midsection. In some cases, the remaining skin was then publicly displayed as a warning against criminality or witchcraft.
The Spanish Donkey
Known colloquially as a wooden horse or a Chevalet, the Spanish Donkey followed a similar principal as the Judas Cradle, letting gravity and angles do the work. Victims -almost always women - were seated astride the apparatus, a vertical wood board with an inverted V-shaped wedge on top. Weights were then attached to their feet, placing all the combined pressure on that one sharp point to create a sensation like being split down the middle.
While there are accounts of this method being used on blasphemers in France during the late Middle Ages, the so-called Spanish Donkey is a play on a familiar form, one that extended to the United States, from the "riding the rail" punishments of the early Colonial Era to "The Mule," on which Confederate soldiers captured in the Civil War would ride until they lost consciousness.
The Judas Cradle
Reaching the peak of its popularity during the Spanish Inquisition of the 1600s, this was also known as the Judas Chair or the Guilded Cradle. The Judas Cradle was a torture device where the victim would be placed on top of a wooden pyramid with the triangular end inserted in the victim's anus or vagina. Arms and feet were tied or weighted in order to ensure maximum pain as the victim slowly descended.
More often than not, the Judas Cradle was used to extract confessions or specific information from victims, so the addition of weights could increase the horror. Depending on the rate of the pyramid-sitter's progress, this torture could last anywhere from a few hours to a full day.
While the torture was not usually intended to be fatal, it often was. The device was never cleaned, resulting in a high incidence of infection, which was often basically a death sentence in the centuries before antibiotics.