Methods of murder and torture
It is tempting to think of medieval society as a violent society. Many hundreds of the pictures from the collection of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek and Museum Meermanno seem to confirm this. They show a rich variety of people being tortured and killed. Thanks to the method of description, various types of violent acts can even be separately retrieved from the database, as is shown below. Still, it is very difficult to use these pictures as evidence. They may seem to contain realistic detail, but they never provide an eye-witness account of an event in a 'journalistic' way, since they all date from at least a hundred years after any 'reported' event.
Death by the elements, death by internal causes
It may seem a bit too orderly for the subject, but thanks to the way the pictures are indexed, they can be arranged systematically. So, first we see saint Laurence being killed by the heat of a fire, then a group women, killed by water when drowning themselves. The man who has water poured down his throat, and Socrates who has just drunk from the poisoned cup, obviously die from 'internal causes'.
Death by blows, kicks, pricks, and stabs
The scenes above are from a Miracle de Notre Dame, a Valerius Maximus, a bible and a Book of Hours. We have also included some cross references: one is to the 'first murder' - the slaying of Abel by his brother Cain - and the other to the famous martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, who was also pierced by arrows.
More stabbing, pushing, and pulling
Maerlant's Spieghel Historiael shows how Alexander the Great killed King Porus. From the City of God by Saint Augustine: a couple of lovers make sure they will not commit adultery. A History Bible shows Alexander the Great dealing with another one of his enemies, and the prophet Ezekiel being pulled by a team of horses.
A Speculum Humanae Salvationis shows another prophet, Isaiah, being sawn in two. Saint Erasmus, from a Book of Hours, and some anonymous Romans, again from the City of God are victims of disembowelment. Finally, from the Spieghel Historiael, Ganelon is being quartered with the help of four horses.