Crime and Punishment: 10 strange sentences or torture methods

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Ernst

Throughout history humans have come up with ways to deal with crime and punishment.  However some sentences and torture methods are stranger and more horrific than others.  So much so they have been hidden for years.  In this article we’ll look at 10 of of the strangest punishments in history. 

Robbers, killers or other criminals have always been given some sort of punishment whether it is fatal or not.  Overtime punishment methods have changed considerably.  Some were left forgotten only to be taken over by the famous guillotine, the deadly electric chair or the horrible bamboo torture method…  Here are ten strange punishments which have thankfully been abolished!

1/ Drunkard’s cloak

Not all forms of punishment are meant to inflict death.  Some are simply meant to embarrass victims as a means to prevent them from recommitting their crimes.  An example of this type of torture method is the drunkard’s cloak.  The cloak in this case is a barrel with holes for the head and for the person’s hands.  Now strapped in place, the drunkard who hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol is paraded into town zigzagging uncontrollably.  This technique is meant to give the accused a better idea of the dangers of alcohol as well as to humiliate them in public!   The cloak was regularly used as a form of punishment in 17th century England.

châtiments abominables
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

2/  Risso dolphin

This form of punishment dates back to the Napoleon Empire and was given to sailors who committed minor offenses.  The sailors’ hands were tied above their head and then buckets of icy, cold water were poured down the sleeves of their shirt.  The name of the torture method comes from the sound the sailors make which closely resembled a Risso dolphin.

dauphin de Risso
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

3/ The Cangue

This form of punishment was used in China during the 17th century.  Fitted with a block of wood around their neck, the prisoner had to ask passersby for food however was never able to access their mouth to eat.  This is another example of being ridiculed in public.

châtiments punitions
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Ernst Schäfer/John Thomson

4/ The Welsh Not

The “Welsh not” punishment was a system to punish children speaking Welsh so as to force them to speak English instead.  If a child spoke Welsh they were given a block of wood with the initials W.N carved on the front that could hang from their neck. If the child wearing the block heard another of their classmates speaking Welsh they could then pass their block to them.  At the end of the day the child wearing the block was given lashes with the stick.

5/ Treadmill

Did you know treadmills were used as a form of physical punishment in 1817!  Many may think that your weekly work out session is an act of punishment however you are not forced to go if your don’t want to…  However this type of treadmill isn’t like the contraptions inside modern day gyms. The punishment method was installed in the majority of English prisons and forced prisoners to run continuously for days or hours if they were lucky.

roue tapis de course supplice
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