The preferred method of torture for Vlad Dracul, 15th Century prince of Wallachia, was to attach a horse to each of the victim's legs as a sharpened stake was gradually forced into his body...
And it seems Vlad also enjoyed scalping, skinning and boiling alive!
Meanwhile, the 14th Century Mongol warlord Tamerlane once ordered the building of a pyramid of 70,000 human skulls from those that his army had beheaded.
In 101 World Heroes, historian Simon Sebag Montefiore selected his ultimate heroes and heroines. Now he offers his readers the other - darker - side of the coin.
Monsters presents, in chronological order, grimly fascinating profiles of 101 notorious and profoundly sinister individuals whose actions have one thing in common - they have had a baleful and blood-soaked impact on the annals of world history.
From Attila the Hun to Basil the Bulgar Slayer, from Pedro the Cruel to Ivan the Terrible, and from Richard III to Saddam Hussein, Monsters is a devilishly compelling gallery of history's greatest ghouls.
A chillingly readable guide to the truly mad, bad and dangerous to know - across three millennia of world history.
(Quercus, hardback, 20)