After hanging, "breaking on the wheel" was the most common form of execution in Germanic Europe, from the early Middle Ages well into the 18th century. The prisoner was bound either to the ground or to the wheel itself; his (the wheel was used primarily for male offenders) limbs and joints were then broken, either with the wheel itself in the preceding case, or with tools of some sort in the latter. The broken limbs were then threaded through the spokes of the wheel, and the victim was left to die of his injuries (or, by some accounts, those subsequently inflicted by carrion birds.) This practice was not limited to Germany, of course - the Tsar of Russia had suspected conspirators broken on the wheel in the 1730s, and there are recorded instances of slaves in the so-called New World being executed in the same manner.