Killoran, Period 7
Middle Age Research Project
Broken On the Wheel
Torture was a brutal and hideous form of punishment for criminals which was used very often in the middle ages. In order to keep order in society during the middle ages without the uses of police forces, torture was commonly used on criminals publicly to dissuade one from crime. Torture was used to extract confessions and execute criminals through deliberate and systematic physical and mental abuse. Some punishments used in the Middle Ages were some of the most brutal and hideous tortures seen in history. This is because no law existed that regulated the treatment of prisoners or the extremity of tortures. Arguably one of the most painful and gruesome of all tortures was being broken on the wheel.
Breaking on the wheel was a simple and primitive torture, but it was incredibly painful for the victim. The wheel was most often used in France and Germany with isolated cases of use in the rest of Europe and Scotland as a form of capital punishment. It was known to be used throughout the late middle ages and into the 18th century. The idea originated from the simple idea of beating a person but the wheel was adapted to be used in the torture so the club would be allowed to pass through the spokes of the wheel after hitting the victim. Most victims of the wheel were convicted thieves, murderers, highwaymen, unaccepted homosexuals, and kidnappers.
When the criminal was convicted of a capital crime he was imprisoned and sometimes underwent “preliminary” tortures like hot oil and making lacerations to the victim. When still in holding, victims would often try to commit suicide to avoid the terrible pain they were about to endure. When the day of the execution came, the public and citizens watched as the victim’s limbs were tied to the rim of a large wagon wheel (usually 2 meters or 7 ft in diameter) on top of the scaffold. The condemned would be lying face up...