WHEN LIFE GENERATES DEATH (LEGALLY)
NOT VERY COMMON OR OBSOLETE METHODS
If you like them, you must visit Europe: lots of towns and cities have ancient torture museums, the Mont St. Michel (France) and the Gand (Belgium) ones are very beautiful.
The sentenced was struck to death, often with tools like cat-o'-nine tails; an example is when American slaves were beaten by their employer.
A headman, usually hooded, cut the sentenced's head off with an axe. Very common in the United Kingdom in the 15th-16th century. The axe used for the last behading, which took place in 1747, can be seen at the Tower of London.
BLOWN FROM A CANNON
The sentenced was positioned across the mouth of a cannon, then a shot was fired, blasting through the person's body.
The sentenced was put into a cauldron full of water which was heated. This method was used mostly in the Middle Ages.
The sentenced was buried alive and left alone. This method was widely used around the world throughout the ages. For example, in India they buried women in sand up to their necks, then left them, head emerged only, to bake in the sun.
A iron container, mouth down, was placed on the victim's stomach. The container was lifted a bit and some mice or rats slipped inside. Then the container was heated up from the outside with a flame. As it began to get hot, the mice wanted to escape, but there was no way out except through the mouth of the cauldron. So they began to gnaw through the person's stomach and do so until the person died.
The sentenced was nailed to wrists and ankles to a cross. At the beginning practised on trees, this method was kept for ancient Rome's slaves.
DEATH BY INSECTS
There are many variations on the scenario in which the sentenced was staked to the ground, smeared with something sweet like honey, and left out to eventually be eaten by insects.
The sentenced was tied and thrown into the water, so that he couldn't swim. This method was used mostly in places on the sea. It was used to verify the guilty of a supposed witch: if she drowned, she was innocent; if the water rejected her and she floated, she was guilty and was sent to the stake.
EATEN BY ANIMALS
The sentenced was thrown into an arena with lions. This method was used mostly in ancient Rome.
IMMERSION INTO SEWER
The sentenced woman (adulteress or prostitute) was tied to a board and immersed into the sewer; this technique has been improved later, putting the woman into a cage. This method was used mostly in the Middle Ages.
IRON BED (or chair)
Pieces of iron furniture were placed over a stoked fire and the sentenced was roasted to death.
It was a female effigy constructed of wood or iron with the inside hollowed out and filled with sharp iron spikes. The iron maiden would be opened up and the offender placed inside. The person would then be embraced by the iron maiden, being impaled by all the stakes.
The sentenced laid on his back and a razor edged pendulum swung above him, slowly descending; like in Edgar Allan Poe's tale "The Well And The Pendulum".
The sentenced laid under some sort of slab-like surface and then heavy objects such as stones were placed on top until the person was crushed to death.
SHOT BY ARROWS
The sentenced was tied to a stake or a wall and some men shot him with arrows. This method was used by Indians and Vikings, who would aim at non-vital parts of the body in order to prolong agony as long as possible.
One of the most famous victim of the arrows is Saint Sebastian, lived in the 3rd century a.D., who was martyrized with arrows; being these token of the Black Death, the Saint was taken as a protector against this epidemic.
Sentenced's skin was removed in strips with various tools.
The sentenced was tied to a pole, then this pole, at the feet of which there was something inflammable such as hay, was set on fire. This method was widely used during the heretic and witch hunt, when they weren't sentenced to be hanged.
The sentenced was put away in a cell or cage and not fed anything. There is a famous episode from Dante Alighieri's "The Divine Comedy", the Count Ugolino one.
Rocks were thrown at the sentenced until he dies. Members of the commuity used to assist and to take part in the "show". Still in practice in some Islamic countries. Even the Bible and the Gospel referred to it about the punishment to be inflicted to adulterers.
The sentenced was tied to wrists and ankles with ropes which were pulled to opposite sides with winches; in this way he was "streched" till death.
THROWN FROM A GREAT HEIGHT
The sentenced was thrown off a mountain or a high wall.
Wheels were used in a variety of ways. For example, the sentenced could be somehow attached to the outer rim of a wheel and then either rolled over sharp spikes or off a hill.
The sentenced sat astride a V-shaped structure as if on a horse; weights were increasingly attached to the person's feet pulled increasingly downward, until he was split in two.