The Dark History Of Death By Crushing Weights

In the Middle Ages, prisoners and those accused of crimes were subjected to various horrific torture methods. It's hard to believe that the torture devices we see in museums today claimed the lives of so many people — innocent or otherwise. Back then, however, torture was the norm — a socially acceptable type of punishment sometimes even done in front of jeering crowds. As reported by History Hit, the torture method used was dependent on the harshness of a person's crime, but all of them were gruesome in nature.

Some of the most common execution methods used were crucifixion, hanging, impalement, and burning. In other cases, prisoners were tortured to coerce a confession or a plea out of them, which usually worked as victims were desperate to avoid being tortured for long periods of time. One of the methods used in the medieval ages was crushing, which began in the 1400s, per ATI. In this method, heavy weights — usually stones — were added on top of the body until the person confessed. In most instances, prisoners died of the crushing weight before they got the chance to make a plea or confess.

Instances of death by crushing weights

One recorded incident of death by crushing was that of Margaret Clitherow in 1586. She was accused and charged with practicing Catholicism and was found to be sheltering Catholic priests. Margaret refused to enter a plea of guilt or innocence, and so she was tortured. With no clothing, Margaret was strapped in place with ropes that were tied to her outstretched arms and legs. A door was placed over her, and weights were slowly added. Little by little, Margaret endured the torture, but she didn't enter a plea. More weight was added until she was crushed to death. Per History of York, about 360 kilograms of weight was put on her body.

Another famous instance of death by crushing happened to Giles Corey in 1692. He was a farmer from Salem, Massachusetts, who was accused of dabbling in witchcraft. Like Margaret, Giles refused to enter a plea and was forced to lie down unclothed with a board over his body. Stones were added to the board, and his ordeal lasted for two days, per Thought Co. Throughout the torture, he was asked to enter a plea, but his only response was: "More weight." He was eventually crushed to death.