Now I believe I’ve seen it all. Not that many people have a Guillotine laying around in their yard, but what the heck…who am I to judge. Considering the time and expense to guild the darned thing, I thing it would have been more advantageous, when using it for the first time, to get a big hunk of meat to try it out for the first time, instead of using a spray paint can….but again…who am I to judge.
The guillotine, the notorious killing machine of the French Revolution, was used to behead thousands, including King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Why was it a humane form of execution for its time, and did victims’ brains continue functioning after decapitation?
Over some 200 years of use, the guillotine claimed the heads of tens of thousands of victims ranging from common criminals to revolutionaries, aristocrats and even kings and queens. More than just a gruesomely effective killing machine, “Saint Guillotine” served as a symbol of the French Revolution and cast an infamous shadow over much of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The origins of the French guillotine date back to late-1789, when Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin proposed that the French government adopt a gentler method of execution. Although he was personally opposed to capital punishment, Guillotin argued that decapitation by a lightning-quick machine would be more humane and egalitarian than sword and axe beheadings, which were often botched.
He later helped oversee the development of the first prototype, an imposing machine designed by French doctor Antoine Louis and built by a German harpsichord maker named Tobias Schmidt.
The device claimed its first official victim in April 1792, and quickly became known as the “guillotine”—much to the horror of its supposed inventor. Guillotin tried to distance himself from the machine during the guillotine hysteria of the 1790s, and his family later unsuccessfully petitioned the French government to change its name in the early 19th century.