Things we were all probably better off knowing nothing about: the Blood Eagle

17 12 2008

The Blood Eagle was an unimaginably gruesome form of torture and execution practiced by the Vikings. According a Scandinavian document, the ßáttr af Ragnars sonum, it was used on the king of Northumbria after the defeat of his forces during the Viking invasion of 865. Here’s what they did:

‘They caused the bloody eagle to be carved on the back of Ælla, and they cut away all of the ribs from the spine, and then they ripped out his lungs.’

Scholars dispute whether Blood Eagles were ever actually performed; it could be a myth based on misinterpretation or mistranslation of Viking poetry.

Still, it’s pretty disgusting.



11 responses

17 12 2008

No more so than the Chinese gradual filleting, or the Turkish flaying (skillfully enough for the condemned to live to the end and see their hide nailed on the wall of their house)…

18 12 2008
Sammy Jankis

That’s gonna hurt come winter.

20 12 2008
Sean the Blogonaut

The flaying wins I think, keeping you alive it definitely gross

21 12 2008

Oh I don’t know. Boiling people alive would rank up there also.

11 05 2009
Paul R Wilson

Curious that the vikings, subhuman & bestial in their cruelty , have since become the nicest people in the world. Christianity is credited with that transformation, as well as working to abolish routine crucifixion in Rome. The Chinese were long in abolishing torture & draconian cruelty and still are quick to condemn & execute people on flimsy evidence.

16 04 2015
The Martian

Are you kidding? Vikings are considered subhuman because most of what we know comes from christian accounts of them. We don’t know their daily culture because there are no unbiased records of it. To early christians, any non-christian was bestial. History is written, not discovered. Remember that before you hand out “credit” for anything.

15 01 2010
Nick S.

Oww! I remember reading somewhere else that they would pour salt after cutting them open. That’s gotta hurt!

29 05 2010
C. I.

They exposed the lungs by pulling them out through the back. “Freeing” the lung tissue from the confines of the ribcage. They then added salt, so the victim would hyperventilate, providing the “eagle’s wings.”

5 02 2012

The salt was also poured into wounds to cause excruciating pain, as if pulling out your ribcage wasn’t brutal enough. Not sure why, as I would imagine that you would be dead by the time you get to the “salting” stage.

15 12 2012

Just a thought, but you couldn’t very well hyperventilate with your lungs outside your ribcage. Still, it’s a horrific way to die.

15 12 2012

I think ling-chi (Chinese death by a thousand cuts) is possibly worse, and it really existed. I don’t know that the blood eagle ever really took place, but it would be a horrendous way to die. Then again, being hanged, drawn and quartered would have been pretty horrific as well. As would any way of dying that involved viokence and which was carried out by someone else. Look up Ling-chi on Google and you can see pictures of people suffering this horrendous death.

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