Unspeakable Crimes 10 Horrifyingly Cruel Torture Methods Used During The Spanish Inquisition  

Katia Kleyman
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The Spanish Inquisition was carried out under the order of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in 1478. The purpose of the Inquisition was to squash any opposing religious factions, (first Judaism and later Islam) and establish complete domination of Catholicism. Jews were cast out (over 160,000), and converters were heavily scrutinized and accused of practicing their former faiths in secret.

People who were deemed heretics during the Spanish Inquisition were held prisoner in dark and poorly ventilated dungeons during tribunals throughout the country. These Inquisitors brutally tortured these inmates, both physically and mentally, to extract a confession.

The Spanish Inquisition torture methods were disturbing and some of the tools were very elaborate. Many times, the victim would die during the process. Inmates who were convicted on serious charges of heresy would have a public execution after an auto-de-fé (a public confession). Say what you will about the Inquisitors, they certainly knew how to get... creative.   

The Judas Cradle Would Literally Rip You A New A**hole

The Judas Cradle Would Literal... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 10 Horrifyingly Cruel Torture Methods Used During The Spanish Inquisition
Photo: Flominator/Wikimedia Commons

The Judas cradle was a profoundly gruesome device. A naked victim was forced to sit on top of sharp-pointed pyramid seat. The pointy end would go into the anus or vagina of the victim. Oh, it gets worse. The Inquisitors would then pull ropes attached the victim’s limbs to slowly force the point deeper into the person’s orifice.

If this was kept up for several hours, the victim would end up impaled by the device

They Would Waterboard You For Looking At Them Funny

They Would Waterboard You For ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 10 Horrifyingly Cruel Torture Methods Used During The Spanish Inquisition
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons

The Spanish Inquisitors called waterboarding “tormente de toca.” The “toca” referred to the piece of cloth that covered the victim’s face. The victim would be tied down on an inclined board and water would be poured over the cloth. This would make the suspected heretic feel as though they were drowning.

“The patient strangled and gasped and suffocated and, at intervals, the toca was withdrawn and he was adjured to tell the truth. The severity of the infliction was measured by the number of jars [of water] consumed, sometimes reaching to six or eight,” Henry Charles Lea wrote in A History of the Inquisition of Spain. 

For the Spanish, waterboarding was basically dubbed, "oh, not so bad." They had other, much more twisted ways of making you talk. 

The Spanish Donkey Would NOT Be A Fun Ride For You

The Spanish Donkey Would NOT B... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 10 Horrifyingly Cruel Torture Methods Used During The Spanish Inquisition
Photo: Wisniowy/Wikimedia Commons

This headless, gut-ripping donkey was the worst ride in town. Deceptively innocent in appearance, the device was used throughout the Inquisition as a means of torture. Victims would be forced to sit on a wooden wedge, sometimes covered in spikes, with their feet left dangling on either end of the “saddle.” Sometimes, weights would be added to the victim’s feet. This device could then potentially cut a person down the middle.

Although the Spanish donkey is pretty gruesome, some people (weirdly) thought it was sexy. The BDSM subculture adopted a more mild variation of the device, using it as a restraint and spanking bench. The woman partaking in the play lays down on the "horse" face-forward with her arms and legs dangling below, exposing her rear.

They Would Leave You Hanging With The Strappado

They Would Leave You Hanging W... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 10 Horrifyingly Cruel Torture Methods Used During The Spanish Inquisition
Photo: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

The strappado was a very popular torture method during the Inquisition, primarily because it was so easy to do. It involved tying a person’s hands behind their backs and then suspending them by their wrists using a pulley system.

Oftentimes, the victims would have weights added to their feet to increase the level of pain and to guarantee dislocation of the extremities. Ouch.