7 Excruciating Facts About What It Feels Like To Be Tortured On Stretching Racks

The medieval era was full of a great deal of pain and misery. Some of that was due to poverty and some to disease, but much of it came down to the fact that human beings can be incredibly sadistic people. There are many tortures that were popular in the Middle Ages, but none so feared as being stretched on a rack. A contraption that features a person laying on a table attached to ropes that pull on their limbs, the rack caused untold suffering throughout Europe. Many people, including those from the ranks of the Knights Templar, were maimed using this device.

Massive piles of limbs were collected over the years from all those who fell under the rack's destructive power. Sometimes, the rack would be used to force confessions or information out of unlucky people, but to many, the idea of the rack was far more powerful than actually being subjected to it. Seeing the device in action could be a far more effective means of interrogation than experiencing it yourself. Curious to know just how bad it got? Check out the list below!


  • Your Limbs Are Stretched Until They Dislocate

    Your Limbs Are Stretched Until They Dislocate
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Once you're strapped onto a rack, your limbs aren't going anywhere. With each turn, they're stretched farther and farther apart. Either your mind or your body will break first, but when your body does break, it happens in a series of horrifying stages. First your limbs dislocate, which means your bones pop out of their joints.

    You'll know when this happens when you hear a loud crack. Everything is technically still attached, but you'll have a very tough time moving from this point forward.

  • Your Limbs Can Be Torn From Your Body

    Your Limbs Can Be Torn From Your Body
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    While it was a common practice to dislocate the limbs of someone on the rack, things could get much, much worse for those being tortured. Typically, rack torture was a drawn-out affair. After all, just throwing the device into high gear would end things pretty quickly. Eventually, it could get so bad that limbs would be completely torn from their sockets.

    In other words, your arm would be completely ripped off your torso. After this happens, odds are you'd bleed out pretty quickly. Lucky for you, your torturer would likely know you aren't going to give them what they want by this point, and would most likely end you.  

  • It's Possible Your Nails Will Be Torn Out

    It's Possible Your Nails Will Be Torn Out
    Photo: Lokilech / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Much of the time, racks were used when torturers wanted something out of the victim. It could be information, a confession, or a conversion, but torturers would do everything they could to achieve their goals. That includes adding some extra torture to what was already the most horrible torture of the time.

    One of these lovely additions was tearing out the finger and toe nails of the person being tortured. The pain must have been terrible - assuming they could still feel their hands and feet at all, that is.

  • You May Be Burned With Torches Or Candles

    In addition to stretching your limbs to the point of being torn out, torturers would spice things up by adding flames.

    Sometimes, they would use a torch. Other times, the torturer would use a burning candle on their victims.