The Tub Medieval Torture

Drowning into Darkness: The Tub Medieval Torture

In medieval Europe, where justice was often cruel and punishment was brutal, one method of torture stood out for its chilling cruelty – The Tub Medieval Torture. This method, known for its sadistic ingenuity, was employed to extract confessions and punish those accused of heinous crimes. This blog will delve into the origins, history, evolution, the process of making The Tub, its intended victims, and some intriguing facts surrounding this macabre form of punishment.

Origins and Early Tub Medieval Torture History

The Tub Medieval Torture
The Tub Medieval Torture by Green, Charles is licensed by CC0 1.0

The early roots of The Tub Medieval Torture can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where water torture was occasionally used as a punishment for certain crimes. For instance, the ancient historian Herodotus mentioned that the Persians employed a form of water torture by pouring water into the mouths of condemned prisoners.The Romans, too, utilised water torture in some instances. One method, known as “waterboarding,” involved immobilising a person while water was poured over their face to simulate drowning.The initial version of The Tub was a relatively simple contraption consisting of a wooden barrel or tub with a hinged lid. The victim would be placed inside the tub, and the lid would be secured shut, leaving them in complete darkness. However, it wasn’t until the 14th and 15th centuries that the practice of The The Tub Medieval Torture evolved into a more refined and horrifying form.As the practice evolved, torturers introduced additional elements to make the experience even more terrifying. By the 16th century, torturers began drilling small holes in the tub for a slow and controlled water flow. This method extended the torture session, causing intense physical and psychological suffering. The victim would be left in the tub, with the water level rising slowly, inducing fear and panic.

Purpose and Tub Medieval Torture Victims

The Tub Medieval Torture was primarily used from the 13th to the 17th century to extract confessions from individuals accused of crimes, often without proper evidence. Authorities believed that the prolonged psychological torment and the fear of drowning would force the accused to admit to their alleged misdeeds. Innocence or guilt mattered little; the aim was to instil terror in society and maintain control through fear.The targets of this gruesome punishment were usually those accused of serious crimes, such as heresy, witchcraft, treason, or any act deemed threatening to the ruling powers or the religious establishment. The accused were often marginalised, such as women, minorities, and dissenters, who had little chance of defending themselves against such torturous practices.

Tub Medieval Torture Construction and Procedure

The construction of The Tub was relatively straightforward, involving a wooden barrel or large tub with a secure hinged lid. The size of the tub would vary, but it was designed to hold one person tightly in a crouched position, leaving them unable to move or escape. The tub was usually placed horizontally, with the hinges on one side and a latch on the other to keep the victim trapped.During the torture, the victim would be stripped of their clothes and placed inside the tub. Torturers would then close the lid, shutting out all light sources and fresh air. The victim would be left in complete darkness, heightening the sense of claustrophobia and despair.A slow and controlled water flow would begin, usually from a hose or bucket to initiate the suffering. The water level inside the tub would rise gradually, increasing the pressure on the victim’s body and making breathing more difficult with each passing moment. This gradual process often led to extreme panic and fear, as the victim knew they would eventually drown if the torture continued.

Interesting Facts about The Tub Medieval Torture

  • The tub was sometimes called “The Barrel,” “The Cask,” or “The Drowning Tub” in historical texts.
  • Accused of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church, an Italian philosopher, Giordano Bruno, was subjected to the Tub Medieval Torture during the Spanish Inquisition. He faced torture and a lengthy trial, eventually leading to his execution in 1600.
  • There were variations of this torture, such as “The Barrel Pillory,” where the victim’s head would be exposed, making them vulnerable to public humiliation.
  • The tub’s size often depended on the perceived seriousness of the accused’s crime, with larger tubs used for more severe offences.


The Tub Medieval Torture is a grim reminder of humanity’s capacity for cruelty and the dark chapters of our past. As we study the history of torture, we must remember the importance of upholding justice and human rights in our modern societies.

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