The Death Penalty: Top 10 Most Gruesome Forms of Execution Used in World History

The Death Penalty: Top 10 Most Gruesome Forms of Execution Used in World History

In order to learn from the world’s mistakes of the past, we all need to study history as much as possible. Studying those sad chapters of our world’s history, such as the death penalty, inquisition, or world wars, is also a ‘must,’ despite how horrifying they are.

Remember when we said that the history of our world has rarely been all peaches and creams? You’ll definitely believe that a lot more after you read this article, as we’ll be reminded of the death penalty and some of the most horrifying forms of execution that the world has used. Sadly enough, various countries in the world, such as the US, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Japan, still have the death penalty. While it’s true that the capital punishment of nowadays is usually not as horrifying as it once was, let’s check out how inventive people were long ago when it came to taking the lives of other human beings:


The process of crucifixion, which was employed by Ancient Rome as a method that involved the victim being nailed or tied to a cross and left to die slowly and painfully, was one of the most horrifying methods of execution ever used. Crucifixion was not only physically agonizing but also served as a public spectacle in order to deter others from committing felonies.

Heart extraction:

The heart extraction was one of the infamous Aztec forms of execution, and the process was seen as a religious ritual. The context was believed to be represented by human sacrifice, and the victim was usually a slave or captive warrior. The victim would be placed on a stone, and a priest would use a knife to cut open the chest and extract the heart while it was still beating. The horrifying execution was believed to ensure the survival of the Aztec world, as the gods would allegedly offer some bonuses. What sick minds, right?

Brazen Bull:

The Brazen Bull was a large and hollow brass statue used in Ancient Greece as a form of execution for those who committed various offenses. While the condemned person was placed inside the structure, a fire was lit beneath, causing the victim to roast alive. The bull was designed in such a way to amplify the screams of the victim.


Impalement, which was a form of execution favored by Vlad the Impaler, the ruler of Wallachia (a region of nowadays Romania), during the 15th century, involved driving a stake through the body of the victim. The process was extremely painful and slow, causing death through a combination of blood loss, shock, and organ damage.

Crimes such as espionage, treason, and other acts committed by a person would make them eligible for being impaled.

Breaking Wheel:

The breaking wheel method was used in Europe during the Middle Ages, and it involved tying the victim to a large wheel and then systematically breaking their bones using an iron bar or hammer. The broken body of the body would be left on display as a warning method for others.

Those who committed crimes such as murder, high treason, as well as other offenses deemed especially serious were the main ones to be eligible for the breaking wheel method.

Boiling alive:

Boiling alive was a main execution method in various cultures, which implied the condemned person to be immersed in boiling oil, water, or other liquids. Death occurred slowly and in an excruciating way. This horrifying method of execution was used for those who committed crimes such as treason, regicide, and other acts against the ruling authority.


Sawing was one of the methods of execution in medieval Europe, and especially during the Spanish Inquisition. The person who was condemned would be hung upside down while a large saw would be employed to cut through the body. The death occurred slowly and agonizingly. This form of execution was particularly used against those who committed heresy and religious crimes.


Flaying was another way of killing a person slowly and extremely painful, as it involved the removal of their skin while they were still alive. Various cultures used this form of execution, which was aimed not only at causing a lot of physical pain but also at stripping away the humanity of the individual.

A range of crimes could have made you eligible for flaying, such as conspiracy, treason, or acts that were considered heinous by the ruling authority.

Siberian Ice Bath:

In the harsh environment of Siberia, victims were immersed in freezing water until ice began to form around them. Being exposed to extreme cold for too long will automatically cause death for a person, and those who were treated this way were usually those who committed serious crimes against the state, such as political dissent or rebellion.

Hanging, Drawing, and Quartering: A triple torture

Hanging, drawing, and quartering were used in medieval England. The condemned person would be hanged, the intestines would be removed, and the whole body would be cut into four parts. This brutal form of execution was often used for high treason, especially for plotting against the state or monarch.

It’s great to know that nowadays, no country in the European Union still has the death penalty officially. In fact, the only European country to practice capital punishment is Belarus, as it applies it in the form of a single shot to the condemned person’s head.

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