The Saw was widely used throughout the Middle Ages, mainly because the tools required were found in most houses and no complex devices were required. It was a cheap way to torture and kill a victim who was often accused of: witchery, adultery, murder, blasphemy or even theft.

The term "death by sawing" indicates the act of sawing a living person in half, either sagittally (usually midsagittally), or transversely. Thus, decapitation by sawing or dismemberment by sawing are tangential sub-themes, though some ambiguous cases might be included. Death by sawing was a method of execution reportedly used in different parts of the world. Some of the reviewed examples are legendary. At least one source states that the method was probably never used.

Different methods of death by sawing have been recorded. In cases related to the Roman Emperor Caligula, the sawing is said to be through the middle (transversely)
 In the cases of Morocco, it is stated that the sawing was lengthwise, both from the groin and upwards and from the skull and downwards (midsagittally)


In only one case, in the story about Simon the Zealot, the person is explicitly described as being hung upside-down and sawn apart vertically through the middle, starting at the groin, with no mention of fastening or support boards around the person, in the manner depicted in illustrations.

In other cases where details about the method beyond the mere sawing act are explicitly supplied, the condemned person was apparently fastened to either one or two boards prior to sawing.

In the middle ages, the most used method was the victim was tied to an inverted position. This had several "benefits": first, it assured sufficient blood diverted to the brain, second, it slowed down the loss of blood and third, it humiliated the victim.

Depending on the victim and torturer, this torture could last several hours. When a confession was required, the victim was frequently forced to watch someone else be subject to this method. If he didn't confess, he'd be slowly cut in half.

The victim would be held upside down, allowing the blood to rush to their head, and then the torturer would slowly start slicing them between their legs.
With the blood contained in the head, the victim would remain conscious throughout most of the slicing, often only passing out or dying when the saw hit their mid-section.
This was done 'slowly' . very slowly.

During the Inquisition, this method became even more popular as the inquisitors travelled from village to village often without any torture devices at their disposal. 


While some victims were cut completely in half as a symbolical gesture, most had only up to their abdomen cut, this was done to prolong the time of death.

There are many stories of death by the saw in the earths history 
and it is still used today in some parts of the world as both a method of torture and a form of execution.

one of the better known historic stories happened in Morocco

1705 The sawing of Alcaide Melec 


This is one of the most notorious cases of sawing as execution is that of the Alcaide (castellan/governor) Melec under emperor Moulay Ishmael (r. 1672–1727). The fullest description of this execution is found in Dominique Busnot's 1714 work Histoire du règne de Mouley Ismael, although a brief notice of the event can be found in the January 1706 edition of Present state of Europe.
In the following, the tale as told by Busnot will be given.


Melec was judged as the chief rebel to be punished in a rebellion instigated by one of the emperor's sons, Mulay Muhammad. In particular, according to Busnot, the empress was incensed that Melec had personally beheaded one of her cousins, Ali Bouchasra.

In September/October 1705, Mulay Ismail sent for his chief carpenter and asked if his saws were capable of sawing a man in two. The carpenter answered "Sure enough". He was then given the grisly task, and before he left, he asked him whether Melec should be sawn across or along the length. The emperor said the sawing should proceed lengthwise, from the head downwards. He told, however, Boachasra's sons, they should follow the carpenter and decide for themselves how best to take revenge upon the murderer (i.e., Melec) of their father. Taking with him 8 of the public executioner's assistants, the master carpenter went to the prison where Melec was held, two of his brand new saws packed in cloth, in order to keep from Melec information of the intended manner of execution. Melec was now placed on a mule, bound with an iron chain, and led to the public square, where some 4000 of his relatives and members of his tribe were assembled. These made a "terrifying" spectacle through screaming, and clawing their faces in a public display of grief. Melec, on the other hand, seemed unperturbed, calmly smoking from his tobacco pipe. When taken down from the mule, Melec's clothes were removed, damning letters "proving" his treason was cast in the fire.

Then, he was strapped onto a board, and placed upon a sawbench, his arms and legs fastened. The executioner's team then sought to start by sawing him from the head downwards, but Boucasra's sons intervened, and demanded that one began between Melec's legs instead, because otherwise, he would die too quickly. Under the terrible screams of Melec and his relatives, thus began his execution. Once they had sawed him up to the navel, they pulled out the saw in order to commence from the other side. Melec is said to have been still conscious, asking for some water. His friends, though, thought it best to hasten his demise and shorten his sufferings, and the executioners went on, sawing him from skull to navel so he fell apart. In the process, chunks of flesh were ripped out by the saw's teeth, causing blood to splatter everywhere, thus making the execution quite unbearable to watch.

Around 300 other conspirators were impaled alive, and another report states that in addition to these, some other 20 chief conspirators had their arms and legs sawed off, and left to expire in the marketplace.

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