what is garrote

Garrote: The Silent Assassin of the Past

When we think of assassination methods, guns and knives come to mind. However, there is a lesser-known, yet equally deadly method of execution: the garrote. The garrote, also known as the garotte or garrotte, is a weapon that has been used throughout history to silently and efficiently eliminate targets. In this article, we will explore the history, mechanics, and brutality of this deadly weapon.

Key Takeaways:

  • A garrote is a weapon used for strangulation, often used for executions and assassinations
  • The garrote has a long and varied history, dating back to ancient civilizations
  • The Spanish garrote is the most well-known version, which was used for state executions
  • The garrote has been featured in popular culture and continues to be used as a deadly weapon today

What is a Garrote?

A garrote is a type of weapon used for strangulation. It consists of a cord, rope, or wire with handles on either end, which are used to twist and tighten the material around the victim’s neck. Garrotes can be made from a variety of materials, including metal wire, fishing line, or piano wire.

The garrote has been used throughout history as a tool of assassination and execution. Its effectiveness lies in its stealth and silence, allowing the user to kill or incapacitate a victim without alerting others to their presence. While the use of garrotes has diminished in modern times, they continue to be used as a deadly weapon in some parts of the world.

The History of the Garrote

The garrote is a deadly weapon that has a long and bloody history. The origins of this brutal tool can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where it was often used for execution and assassination. Over time, the garrote evolved into a more sophisticated weapon, with different variations used in different parts of the world.

The earliest known garrote was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used it for the execution of criminals. It was typically made of a long piece of cord or rope, which was wrapped tightly around the neck of the victim and pulled tight from either side. The garrote was also popular among the ancient Persians, who used it for both execution and torture.

Ancient Civilizations Usage of Garrote
Greeks and Romans Execution
Persians Execution and torture

During the Middle Ages, the garrote became a common tool for execution and assassination in Europe. It was often the preferred method of execution for nobles, as it was considered more dignified than beheading. The garrote was also used by assassins and spies, who used it to silently dispatch their targets.

In Spain, the garrote became a national symbol during the 19th century, when it was used as the official method of execution. The Spanish garrote was a sophisticated device that used a metal collar to strangle the victim, while a screw was tightened to increase the pressure on the neck. It was considered a more humane method of execution than other methods used at the time, such as hanging or beheading.

In modern times, the garrote has largely been replaced by other methods of execution, such as lethal injection or electrocution. However, it has remained a popular weapon among criminals and assassins, due to its silence and effectiveness.

Despite its brutal history, the garrote has also played a role in popular culture. It has been featured in numerous movies and books, often as a weapon used by assassins and spies. However, it is important to remember the violent and gruesome nature of this deadly tool, and the lives it has taken throughout history.

  • The garrote has a long history as a tool for execution and assassination.
  • It was used by ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and Persians.
  • During the Middle Ages, it became a common tool for execution and assassination in Europe.
  • In Spain, it was the official method of execution during the 19th century.
  • In modern times, it has largely been replaced by other methods of execution.
  • The garrote has also played a role in popular culture, but it is important to remember its violent past.

Ancient Garrotes

The use of garrotes dates back to ancient times in various parts of the world. The ancient Greeks, for example, used a device called the ‘strangulation collar’ which was a metal collar that tightened around the neck of the condemned. Similarly, the ancient Romans used a similar device called the ‘tormentum’ that tightened around the neck and even had spikes that would pierce the skin.

In South America, the Inca civilization had their own version of the garrote, which they called the ‘wanka’ or ‘wankaq’. The wanka was a twisted cord that was used to strangle the condemned to death. The Mayans also had their own version of the garrote, which they called the ‘hacha’, a sharp-edged weapon that was used for both combat and execution.

Ancient Garrotes Examples

Ancient Culture Garrote Type
Greek Strangulation Collar
Roman Tormentum
Inca Wanka
Mayan Hacha

The use of garrotes in ancient times varied from one civilization to another, but it was primarily used as a method of execution. The garrote was seen as a more humane way of executing the condemned than other methods such as crucifixion or beheading. However, the reality was that death by garrote was an agonizing experience, often taking several minutes for the victim to lose consciousness.

While the use of garrotes has evolved over the centuries, its brutality as a method of execution has remained a constant.

The Garrote in Medieval Times

The garrote has a long and storied history as a tool of execution and assassination. In medieval times, the garrote was used to carry out executions in a manner that was quick and relatively painless compared to other methods of execution, such as beheading or burning at the stake.

The garrote was also a popular weapon of choice for assassins in medieval times. Its simplicity made it easy to conceal and carry, and its effectiveness in quickly dispatching targets made it a deadly weapon in the hands of a skilled assassin.

The Garrote in Medieval Executions

The garrote was commonly used for executions in medieval Europe, particularly in Spain and Italy. It was a simple device consisting of a metal wire or cord that was wrapped around the victim’s neck and tightened using a handle or lever, causing strangulation.

The garrote was often used for executions of political and religious prisoners, as well as common criminals. It was considered a more humane method of execution than others, as it did not involve the shedding of blood or the use of fire.

The Garrote as a Medieval Assassination Weapon

The garrote was also a popular weapon among assassins in medieval times. Its simplicity made it easy to carry and conceal, allowing assassins to get close to their targets undetected.

In addition to its ease of use, the garrote was also an effective weapon in the hands of a skilled assassin. The quick and silent nature of the garrote allowed assassins to dispatch their targets quickly and efficiently.

The garrote was often used in political assassinations, particularly in the kingdoms of Spain and Italy, where political unrest was common.

In conclusion, the garrote played a significant role in medieval times as both a method of execution and a deadly weapon of assassination. Its simplicity and effectiveness made it a popular choice among executioners and assassins alike.

The Spanish Garrote

The Spanish garrote is a notorious execution method that originated in Spain in the 15th century. It was a particularly cruel and brutal way of putting someone to death, as it involved using a device to strangle the victim.

The garrote was often used to execute criminals or political enemies of the state. It was especially prevalent during the Spanish Inquisition, where it was used to torture and kill those accused of heresy or witchcraft.

The Spanish garrote was made up of a metal collar with a large screw on one end and a handle on the other. The victim’s neck would be placed in the collar, and the handle would be turned to tighten the collar around their neck. This would cause the victim to slowly suffocate to death, often taking several minutes.

The Spanish garrote was eventually abolished in Spain in 1978, but it left a lasting impact on the country’s history and culture. It has been depicted in numerous works of Spanish literature and art, and is still a subject of fascination and horror today.

The Last Executions by Garrote

The last time the garrote was used in Spain was in 1974, when two men were executed for the assassination of a Spanish policeman. The executions were met with widespread outrage and condemnation, and led to calls for the abolition of the garrote as a method of execution.

In 1978, the Spanish government finally abolished the garrote, along with all other forms of capital punishment.

The Garrote in Spanish Culture

Despite its gruesome history, the garrote has become a powerful symbol in Spanish culture. It is often depicted in works of literature, art, and film, and is still a source of fascination for many Spaniards.

The Spanish author Francisco Garcia Pavon wrote a series of detective novels featuring the character Plinio, a police detective who solves crimes in the town of Ciudad Real. In one of the novels, “Death in Ciudad Real,” Plinio investigates a murder that was committed using a garrote.

The garrote has also appeared in numerous films, including the 1973 Franco-era thriller “The Grandfather,” in which a man is executed by garrote for his involvement in an anti-government plot.

Despite its brutal past, the Spanish garrote remains an indelible part of the country’s cultural and historical legacy.

Modern Garrotes

The garrote has evolved over time and is still used as a weapon in modern times. However, it is now more commonly associated with assassinations and murders rather than executions. The modern garrote is typically made of wire, steel or nylon cord, and includes handles for ease of use. It can be easily concealed and is a silent killer, making it a preferred choice for some hitmen.

In recent years, the use of garrotes has been linked to organized crime and drug cartels. Criminal organizations use garrotes as a means of eliminating their rivals quietly and without attracting attention. Additionally, the garrote has been used in some hostage situations and terrorist attacks.

Despite being considered an outdated weapon, the garrote remains a deadly tool in the wrong hands. Its silent and effective nature makes it a weapon of choice for those seeking to carry out assassinations and murders discretely. The garrote’s history as a tool for executions and assassinations has influenced its notoriety in pop culture.

The Garrote in Pop Culture

The garrote, with its gruesome reputation, has been portrayed in many forms of media. From books to movies, the garrote has been used as a silent and deadly weapon by assassins or as a brutal instrument of execution by those in power. Its use in pop culture has helped cement its infamous status throughout the world.

In the book The Godfather by Mario Puzo, the garrote was the chosen tool of the Mafia for their assassinations. Its silent and quick usage made it a perfect weapon for their purposes. The garrote also played a significant role in the movie The Bourne Ultimatum when the main character, Jason Bourne, fought his enemy with a makeshift garrote in an intense fight scene.

Television shows have also depicted the garrote in various ways. In the show Breaking Bad, one of the main characters, Gus Fring, used a garrote to kill one of his enemies, further portraying its use by criminal organizations. In the show Game of Thrones, the garrote was used as an execution tool by the Sand Snakes, a group of assassins who used it to kill their victims.

The garrote has also made appearances in video games such as Assassin’s Creed II where the main character, Ezio Auditore, uses a garrote for stealth assassinations. In the game Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the player can use the garrote as a non-lethal means of taking down an enemy.

In conclusion, the garrote has played a significant role in pop culture, being featured in various forms of media. Its use as a tool for assassinations or as an instrument of execution has cemented its place in history as a terrifying weapon of choice for those who seek to harm others.

The Brutality of Garrote Executions

The use of the garrote as a form of execution throughout history has been a source of terror and brutality. The garrote is a silent assassin, a weapon that inflicts death upon its victim without making a sound. The victim is strangled to death by a tight wire or cord wrapped around their neck, crushing the windpipe and depriving them of oxygen.

The garrote was used as a method of execution in various civilizations, including ancient Greece and Rome. In medieval times, the garrote was commonly used as a form of punishment and a means of executing political enemies, spies, and traitors. The Spanish Inquisition is notorious for its use of the garrote to execute heretics and other dissenters. The victim, who was often gagged to prevent them from screaming, was seated in a chair with their hands tied behind their back. The executioner would then tighten the wire around their neck with a crank until they were dead.

The Gruesome Nature of Garrote Executions

Grotesque as it may seem, the garrote was considered a more humane form of execution than hanging, as it did not involve the breaking of the neck. However, the reality of garrote executions was anything but humane. Victims would often struggle and convulse, their eyes bulging and their faces turning blue as they gasped for air. The sound of their bones cracking under the pressure of the wire was audible to the spectators, making it a gruesome and terrifying spectacle.

Garrote executions were often carried out in public places, such as town squares and city centers, as a warning to others who might consider challenging the authority of the ruling power. They were also used as a means of asserting dominance and instilling fear and obedience among the populace. It is no wonder that the use of the garrote as a method of execution has been banned in most countries today.

Despite its gruesome and terrifying nature, the garrote remains a part of history and a reminder of the brutal means that humans have used to maintain power and control over others.

Strangulation Technique of the Garrote

The garrote is a weapon that functions through manual strangulation, cutting off the victim’s air supply and eventually leading to death. The garrote’s uniqueness lies in its use of a cord or wire, which is tightly wound around the neck of the victim during the strangulation process. Unlike other manual strangulation methods, such as using the hands, the garrote can be used with precision and control, making it a preferred weapon in assassinations and executions.

The garrote’s effectiveness as a strangulation tool is due to its design. The cord or wire used in the garrote is often made of a thin but strong material, such as piano wire or nylon. This allows for a tight grip around the victim’s neck, causing severe constriction of the airway. The length of the cord or wire is also crucial since it determines the amount of force required to strangle the victim. The garrote’s ability to apply pressure to specific points in the neck area also makes it a quick and efficient way to end someone’s life.

The technique used to strangle someone with a garrote varies depending on the type of garrote. In some versions, the garrote is a handheld tool with a U-shaped frame that has two handles on either side. The cord or wire is wrapped around the victim’s neck, and the handles are then used to twist the cord or wire, tightening it around the neck and causing strangulation. In other versions, the garrote is a fixed object such as a chair or wall-mounted noose. The victim is then forced to sit on the chair or stand under the noose, and the cord or wire is tightened in a similar fashion.

The use of the garrote as a strangulation tool has a sordid history, dating back to ancient times. Its effectiveness and cruelty have made it a preferred method of execution and assassination throughout history, and it remains a deadly weapon today.

Garrote as a Deadly Weapon

The garrote is not just a tool for executions or assassinations, but also a deadly weapon. It is a method of strangulation that can be used for stealthy and quick attacks.

The weapon consists of a length of wire or cord, usually with handles on each end for the attacker to hold. The wire is then twisted around the victim’s neck and tightened with force, cutting off the air supply and causing death.

What makes the garrote a dangerous weapon is its ability to be easily concealed and silent in operation. It does not require any special training or skills to use, and can be deadly in the hands of anyone who knows how to operate it.

Many criminal organizations and individuals have used garrotes, particularly those involved in espionage and assassination. The fact that it leaves no obvious signs of injury or struggle makes it an appealing tool for those who wish to avoid detection.

However, the use of a garrote as a weapon is not without risk. It requires close proximity to the victim, which puts the attacker at risk of being caught or counterattacked. The attacker also needs to have enough strength to tighten the wire with enough force to cause death.

In conclusion, the garrote is a deadly weapon that has been used throughout history by those seeking to carry out assassinations or inflict harm. Its silent and quick nature makes it an appealing tool for those who wish to remain undetected, but it is not without its dangers and risk.


In conclusion, the garrote holds a gruesome yet significant place in the history of executions and assassinations. From its ancient variations used by different civilizations to the Spanish garrote and its modern evolution, the garrote has left a mark on history. As seen in pop culture, the garrote has also become synonymous with the idea of a silent assassin. However, the brutality of the garrote cannot be overlooked, as it was used for the cruel and painful execution of many throughout history.

The technique of using a garrote for strangulation is effective and deadly, making it a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. The history of the garrote may be dark, but it is important to acknowledge and understand the role it has played in shaping the world we live in today.

In conclusion, the garrote may have been a silent assassin of the past, but its impact on history and society is anything but silent.


Q: What is a garrote?

A: A garrote is a type of weapon or device used for strangulation, typically consisting of a cord, wire, or rope tightened around a person’s throat.

Q: What is the history of the garrote?

A: The garrote has a long history and has been used in various civilizations throughout time for executions and assassinations.

Q: How does the garrote work?

A: The garrote works by applying pressure to the neck, cutting off the flow of air and blood to the brain, resulting in death or unconsciousness.

Q: Are garrotes still used today?

A: While the use of garrotes has declined in modern times, they are still occasionally employed as a method of execution or as a weapon.

Q: What is the significance of the Spanish garrote?

A: The Spanish garrote is a historical execution device that was used in Spain for centuries. It consisted of a metal collar tightened around the neck of the condemned, causing strangulation.

Q: How is the garrote represented in pop culture?

A: The garrote has made appearances in movies, books, and other forms of media, often portrayed as a deadly and sinister weapon used by assassins.

Q: Why were garrote executions considered brutal?

A: Garrote executions were considered brutal due to the slow and agonizing nature of death by strangulation, often resulting in a prolonged and painful experience for the condemned.

Q: How does the garrote as a weapon compare to other weapons?

A: The garrote is known for its effectiveness as a silent and discreet weapon, allowing the user to incapacitate or kill their target without the need for loud gunfire or visible wounds.