Feature Image of Iron Maiden Torture Device

Iron Maiden Torture Device

The early medieval age is known to be a Dark Age for a specific reason- People were tortured unfairly using terrifying devices. You must have seen enough movies and read many books about the medieval world and their love for torture. However, the way those torture techniques are shown in media is definitely after toning down the real thing!

Medieval torture devices weren’t fun for receivers, but it was morbidly entertaining for people using them. They are extremely painful and breathtaking. Also, these devices were misused to manipulate accused witches and dissenters into confessing the crime they didn’t commit.

Many gruesome torture devices were used in the medieval age, but the one that grabbed our attention the most because of its human-sized box-laden design is Iron Maiden. This article will take you on the ride to in-depth information about Iron Maiden Torture Device. So, strap yourself in!

Introduction to Iron Maiden Torture Device

Iron Maiden Torture device, also known as Virgin or Jangfer, is not just a rocking metal band but a device of nightmares. It was a metal human-sized box or an iron coffin lined with spikes from the inside. It consisted of double doors in front, which allowed quickly placing the victim inside it.

The victims were used to throwing inside this device for interminable amounts of time, where they couldn’t do anything but stand and were brutally pierced by metal protrusions. In some cases, the people’s legs started to tire out.

History of Iron Maiden Torture Device

Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden Torture Device by Nathan Rupert is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Although Iron Maiden has a reputation as the most torturous medieval tool, no evidence exists before the 18th century. However, some ancient reports have proved that a similar device was used in Europe around 200 BC.

In 847, Abbasid Vizier Ibn al-Zayyat is believed to design a similar wooden chest with iron spikes for torture. It was at last used during his imprisonment and death. Some historians claim that this device was used first on August 14, 1515, to execute a coin forger.

Iron Maiden Torture Device: Stories and Misconceptions

  • In one story, this device is believed as the symbol of the triumph of the Catholic Church over heresy.
  • In another story, it was used as early as the 12th century.            
  • In the 19th century, the models of Iron Maiden were designed and displayed in museums of many European cities, including Nuremberg. In 1893, an Iron Maiden was also exhibited at Chicago’s World Fair.
  • In 2003, an Iron maiden was discovered at Baghdad’s Iraqi National Olympic committee compound. The story goes that the found device belonged to Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein and head of that committee at that time, and he used it to torture and punish underperformed athletes. No one knows how much reality is around these stories.

Iron Torture Device: Operations and Uses

Iron Torture Maiden Device had the most straightforward operating mechanism of all medieval torture methods. It included two doors in the front that could be easily opened and closed. The victim was forced to enter this device, and the doors were shut down. The spikes placed inside the device would pierce through several organs of the victim’s body, causing severe injuries or death due to excessive blood loss over several hours.

A man is forced to kneel before an "iron maiden" in a dungeon in Nuremberg.
A man is forced to kneel before an “iron maiden” by Wellcome Collection is licensed under CC BY 4.0

The positioning of the spikes inside the Iron Maiden was crucial to torture. Depending on the degree of torture, the length, placement, and sharpness of the spikes were decided. In most cases, two spikes were placed to penetrate the eyes and the other near the chest, genitals, and other initial body organs. To prolong the torture, it was ensured that spikes would not pierce very deep inside the organ or cause sudden death.

If this medieval torture tool was to be used on a famous person, Royal Family Member or bigger enemy, it used to be custom-made depending on the body measurements of the victim.

Iron Maiden and Schandmantel: Difference

Most people confuse Iron Maiden and Schandmantel, assuming they are the same. However, they are highly different. Schandmantel, also known as “the coat of shame”, was a medieval torture tool which German prostitutes and poachers wore for public humiliation. Although it had a similar design to the Iron Maiden, it didn’t include spikes inside.


No one knows when Iron Maiden Torture Device was founded or first used, and many disputed ideas revolve around it. However, despite so many disputes, everyone agrees that it was one of the most torturous medieval devices. We hope you liked reading about Iron Maiden.

If you liked reading about Iron Maiden Torture Device, you should definitely check our articles on Judas Cradle Torture, The Breaking Wheel Torture Device & Pear of Anguish Torture Device !!

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