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Top 10 Gruesome Deaths That Will Make You Nauseous

by Paul Medina
fact checked by Rachel Jones

There’s not really a fun way to die. But that doesn’t mean that some deaths aren’t more disgusting than others. And looking back in time, people have found some very creative and nauseating ways to end someone’s life. Today, we’re diving into the shadowy depths of history to uncover ten jaw-droppingly gruesome deaths that will make you nauseous. Ready to turn the darker pages of our past?

Related: 10 Ways A Kitchen Can Hurt You More Than A Torture Chamber

10 Vlad the Impaler’s Reign of Terror

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Vlad the Impaler, the 15th-century ruler of Wallachia, earns a spot on our list of gruesome deaths that’ll turn your stomach. Known for his sadistic flair, Vlad perfected the art of impaling his enemies. The impaling occurred on long, sharp stakes, earning him his infamous moniker.

His preferred method of execution was as brutal as they come, with victims often left writhing in agony for hours. Legend has it that he even dined amid impaled corpses, adding a sinister touch to his reputation.

Historical records suggest that Vlad’s fondness for impaling went beyond military strategy and extended to punishing enemies and criminals. The tales of his cruelty inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, creating a link between the real-life ruler and the fictional vampire.

Vlad’s reign of terror came to a gruesome end when he was assassinated in 1476, leaving behind a legacy of horror that still haunts history.

9 The Brazen Bull’s Roast Party

The Brazen Bull: Most Painful Torture Device in History

Perillos was a twisted genius from ancient Greece. He earned his grisly spot in history for inventing the Brazen Bull, a chilling device designed to make death an art form. Crafted in the 6th century BC for the tyrant Phalaris of Akragas, this contraption was the epitome of torture.

The brazen bull was a hollow, bronze bull statue with a door on one side. Victims were placed inside, and a fire was lit underneath. As the unfortunate souls roasted alive, their screams echoed through specially designed pipes, turning agony into a morbid symphony for spectators.

Ironically, Phalaris wasn’t impressed and decided to test Perillos’s creation on him. The inventor narrowly escaped his invention. The brazen bull is a haunting testament to human cruelty, reminding us that history’s horrors often surpass fiction’s darkest imaginings.

8 Sawney Bean and the Cannibal Clan

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In the 16th century, Sawney Bean, along with his equally sinister family/clan of 45, terrorized the coastal roads of Galloway. Here, they preyed on unsuspecting travelers. Living in a hidden cave, they lured victims into their lair, murdering and feasting on their flesh. It is said the clan fed on over 1,000 travelers over 25 years. Authorities were stunned when they finally uncovered the Bean family’s horrific activities.

Sawney Bean and his clan met their end in a brutal execution, facing the punishment they so dreadfully deserved. The shockingly dark details of Sawney Bean’s crimes have cemented his place in history as one of Scotland’s most infamous figures. He and his family provide a glimpse into the darker side of humanity.

7 The Blood Eagle: Viking Style Slaying

The Blood Eagle – Worst Punishments in the History of Mankind

If you’re ready for a gruesome journey into the dark annals of history, buckle up for a wild ride. Enter the Vikings and their infamous blood eagle ritual. Landing at number seven on our list, the blood eagle was an execution method reserved for the most heinous offenders.

Picture the victim’s back is cut open. Next, ribs are pulled apart to resemble bloody wings, and the lungs are pulled out and laid on the victim’s shoulders. The Vikings believed this brutal spectacle would send the condemned straight to the afterlife with Odin’s blessing. Historical accounts of the blood eagle are as chilling as they come, with tales of stoic victims enduring the agony to the bitter end.

6 The Rat Torture Tango

Rat Torture – Worst Punishments In The History Of Mankind

Step back in time to an era where cruelty knew no bounds. The gruesome method known as European rat torture will send shivers down your spine. The practice involved securing a cage filled with hungry rats onto a person’s abdomen. The cage was then set on fire as the rats desperately sought an escape; their only route was through the victim’s flesh. Yes, through the person’s body.

This torturous method found its roots in medieval Europe. It was often employed to extract confessions or punish alleged wrongdoers. Historical records reveal instances where this method was used during the Spanish Inquisition, adding a horrifying layer to an already brutal period.

The victims faced not only physical agony but also the psychological terror of impending doom. The European rat torture leaves us with a horrifying glimpse into the darker facets of our past.

5 The Breaking Wheel Ballet

The Breaking Wheel (Horrible Punishments in History)

Welcome to the medieval breaking wheel. The breaking wheel was a horrifying contraption that found its place in history as a tool of gruesome execution. Imagine a large wooden wheel resembling a twisted wagon wheel. Attached to the wheel were the condemned person’s limbs, spread out like a starfish. This torture device aimed not just at death but also at prolonged pain.

Here’s the brutal breakdown: The victim was tied to the wheel, and as it rotated, bones were systematically shattered using iron bars or hammers. Shockingly, this method wasn’t just about causing pain and death. It was a public spectacle meant to instill fear. Executioners displayed their craftsmanship, ensuring the suffering was both physical and psychological.

Historically, the breaking wheel was used across Europe from the medieval period well into the Renaissance. Its sheer brutality shows the dark depths humanity once explored in the name of justice—or, more accurately, in the pursuit of fear and control.

4 The Iron Maiden’s Deadly Embrace

Iron Maiden – Worst Punishments in the History of Mankind

The iron maiden is a masterpiece in the tapestry of medieval torture devices. Picture a grim, coffin-like structure adorned with menacing spikes on the inside, designed to embrace its victims in a deadly hug. This morbid contraption, originating in the 18th century, was allegedly used to administer a slow and excruciating demise.

The iron maiden’s cold embrace wasn’t just for show. When the unfortunate soul was enclosed, the strategically placed spikes punctured vital organs, leading to a torturous and drawn-out death. While historical accuracy is debated, some accounts suggest that various European monarchs utilized it during the Spanish Inquisition and later.

The very idea of being trapped in this metallic nightmare is enough to send shivers down one’s spine. The iron maiden remains a gruesome symbol of humanity’s capacity for cruelty, making it a chilling addition to any list of horrific deaths.

3 The Chinese Lingchi: Death by a Thousand Cuts


If you’re ready for a historical ride, buckle up for the gruesome tale of Chinese lingchi. It is also known as “slow slicing” or “death by a thousand cuts.” Imagine a method of execution that’s not only horrifying but meticulously prolonged. Lingchi was practiced in China until the early 20th century, and it involved systematically cutting off body parts over an extended period.

Victims would endure a slow and agonizing death as executioners methodically removed limbs, piece by piece. This wasn’t just physical torment. It was psychological warfare on an unprecedented level. Historically, lingchi was reserved for heinous crimes. But the public nature of the execution was meant to serve as a warning to others. However, its brutality often left spectators nauseated. Beyond its shock value, Lingchi was abolished as punishment in 1905.

2 The Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered Spectacle

Hanged, Drawn & Quartered: The Most Inhuman Medieval Punishment Ever Invented

Few execution methods evoke as much dread as the infamous torture of being “hung, drawn, and quartered.” This gruesome practice, employed in medieval England for high treason, was a nightmarish spectacle.

First, the condemned would be dragged through the streets, often behind a horse; hence the term “drawn.” Then, they faced the noose, where the “hung” part came into play. But the horror didn’t end there. The unlucky soul would be cut down while still alive, subject to the ultimate indignity of disembowelment and emasculation.

Here, the “quartered” part kicks in, with the body divided into four parts. These grisly sections were often displayed prominently as a warning to potential wrongdoers. The process wasn’t just about punishment but also about public terror. The Tower of London witnessed quite a few gory spectacles.

1 The Deadly Dance of the Spanish Donkey

Spanish Donkey – Worst Punishments in the History of Mankind

The Spanish donkey was a medieval torture device. It earned its gruesome spot in history as a nightmarish contraption designed to torment victims mercilessly. Picture a sharp-edged wooden plank, resembling a donkey, with a person straddling it. The poor soul’s legs dangle on either side while weights are added, gradually increasing the pressure.

As the weight intensified, the victim’s body would be crushed, leading to excruciating pain and, eventually, death. This agonizing torture method was widely used during the Spanish Inquisition, a dark chapter from the 15th to 19th centuries. The Spanish donkey stands out not only for its sadistic efficiency but also for the sheer horror it inflicted on those unfortunate enough to endure its wrath.

fact checked by Rachel Jones