The "Breaking Wheel" was a brutal execution device, though a slightly weird one. The victim was stretched over a wheel, and as the wheel rotated he'd be struck with blunt instruments. The blows would be painful if they hit in areas where the victim's body was placed against the wood of the wheel's frame, but even more damaging if it was in a part of the body that was unsupported. Meant to cause a very agonizing death, the executioner was meant to first strike the victim in areas that would be nonlethal, breaking arms and legs, and causing terrible pain. This made execution-by-wheel a kind of game and an entertainment for the morbid crowds that watched. In some cases, the executioner would be ordered to be "merciful" and put the victim to death more quickly by striking him hard in some area of the chest. In France, the term "coup de grace" was derived from this kind of mercy-killing; "coup de grace" meaning "mercy blow".