Torture was commonly used as a forerunner to the execution. There were no laws or rules to protect the treatment of prisoners who faced torture and execution. No matter what the type of torture or form of execution was used it was seen as a totally legitimate means for justice to extract confessions, obtain the names of accomplices, obtain testimonies or confessions or to impose a penalty, sanctioned by law for a wrong committed.Public executions were common place acting as a deterrent to anyone witnessing the execution.
Crime and Punishment - Execution Methods
Execution is defined as to put to death as punishment. Imposing a "Death penalty" or "death sentence". Execution of criminals, religious and political opponents was used to punish crime and to suppress religious or political dissent. Medieval execution methods were often barbaric, designed to inflict the most agonising pain and some executions methods were designed to prolong the execution as long as possible. Using various execution methods were the punishment for many serious crimes such as treason, murder and
Medieval Execution Methods
A skilled torturer would use torture methods, devices and instruments to prolong life as long as possible whilst inflicting agonising pain on a prisoner awaiting execution. The customs of the Medieval period dictated that many prisoners were tortured before they were executed in order to obtain additional information about their crime or their accomplices. Torture was also seen as a preliminary to the punishment of death by execution. There were many forms and types of Medieval execution methods. The torture and execution methods included the following methods:
- The Wheel, Breaking Wheel or Catherine Wheel
- Hanging - the Gibbet
- Pressing or Crushing
- Burning - Execution by Fire
- Boiled to death
- Decapitation - The Sword or the Axe
- Hung, drawn and quartered
Medieval Execution Methods - The Wheel
The Wheel or Breaking Wheel where the unfortunate victim had his limbs systematically broken. Catherine wheel or breaking wheel, an instrument of execution often associated with Saint Catherine of Alexandria and adopted as one of the European execution methods.
Medieval Execution Methods - Quartering
Quartering where the legs and arms were separately tied to four horses and as each horse moved away the body would be torn to bits.
Medieval Execution Methods - Hanging
Prisoners were hung at the gibbet and died either by breaking their necks or by choking to death.
Medieval Execution Methods - Burning
Prisoners were chained to a stake surrounded by wood and faggots which were set alight at the point of execution and the person suffered the agonising pain of being burnt to death.
Medieval Execution Methods - Pressing
Prisoners were crushed to death as heavy objects were slowly loaded on top of their bodies.
Medieval Execution Methods - Decapitation
Prisoners were sentenced to having their head struck off their body. The axe was used for this purpose which resulted in the head often being roughly hacked off the victim, requiring several blows. When clemency was granted a sword was used which removed the head by one swift cut.
Medieval Execution Methods - Hung, drawn and quartered
One of the most terrible methods of execution ever invented and used extensively in England as the punishment for traitors. The condemned was hanged till they were half dead, and then taken down, and quartered alive. After that, their members and bowels were cut from their bodies, and thrown into a fire, while they were still alive. They would finally be killed by decapitation.
Medieval Execution Methods - Boiling to death
Prisoners were boiled to death in a huge cauldron. This punishment was often reserved for poisoners.
The Execution Methods Description - Impalement
Impalement was frequently practiced in Asia and Europe throughout the Middle Ages.