Sunday, June 10, 2018

History of guillotine

Since Middle Ages death sentence was the common practice throughout the world and was inflicted in the case of conviction for large number of crimes, including petty offenses involving property. In England, during the 18th century, death was the punishment for several specific offences which were about a hundred. The death penalty was executed in various ways.

Prior to the introduction of the guillotine in France in 1792, executioners performed beheadings with a sword or axe. Sometimes it required repeated blows to completely sever the head, and it was very likely for the condemned to bleed to death slowly from his or her wounds before the head could be severed.

In October 1789, Dr. Joseph Guillotin proposed to the National Assembly that those condemned to death should be beheaded rather than hung, burned, or drawn and quartered. He argued that beheading was not only a quicker and more humane way to die, but that adopting a uniform method of execution would also be more democratic. Guillotine suggested that a decapitation machine be built. Subsequently, the decapitation machine came to be named after him.

The guillotine provided a solution to the problem of public executions in an age of both sentiment and reason. It was designed to rationalize punishment and make it more humane; but it was also designed to guard against the psychological effects of older, more variable and unpredictable methods of public execution on a sentimental public.

The machine was first tested on sheep and calves, and then on human corpses. Finally, after many improvements and trials, the blade was perfected, and the first execution by guillotine took place in the year 1792. The crowd that had gathered to watch the new machine in action disliked it because death occurred too quickly—they preferred the gallows instead. During the course of the Revolution, thousands died by guillotine; at the height of its use in the city of Paris, over 1200 people were executed during a 13-month period (May 1793 to June 1794).

It was widely used during the French Revolution, where many of the executions were held publicly outside the prison of Versailles. King Charles I was also executed in the same way in England. The last public execution by guillotine was held in France, in June 1939.

The guillotine may have been similar in form and function to other older devices, but it broke new ground. To the leaders of the French Revolution, the guillotine was “the technological perfection of impersonal violence”. It was designed to inflict a fast and painless death upon anyone, regardless of age, sex or wealth—an embodiment of such concepts as equality and humanity.
History of guillotine
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