1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wheel, Breaking on the
WHEEL, BREAKING ON THE, a form of torture and execution formerly in use, especially in France and Germany. It is said to have been first used in the latter country, where the victim was placed on a cart-wheel and his limbs stretched out along the spokes. The wheel was made to slowly revolve, and the man's bones broken with blows of an iron bar. Sometimes it was mercifully ordered that the executioner should strike the criminal on chest and stomach, blows known as coups de grâce, which at once ended the torture, and in France he was usually strangled after the second or third blow. A wheel was not always used In some countries it was upon a frame shaped like St Andrew's Cross that the sufferer was stretched. The punishment was abolished in France at the Revolution. It was employed in Germany as late as 1827. A murderer was broken on the row or wheel at Edinburgh in 1604, and two of the assassins of the regent Lennox thus suffered death.