Oh dag nam it. How unfortunate is this? The inventor of the guillotine was killed by guillotine. As we know, the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful tool to have, but is of little use, especially in this case. But in saying that, would the inventor of the guillotine have invented it if he knew he would be killed by guillotine? In what might surprise a lot of people, I’d say yes. Yes he would.
The guillotine is a gory, gruesome and highly efficient machine used to industrialize the process of executions. When compared to other normal methods employed before more modern times, it offered both the condemned and the executioner the surety of a quick, clean death. Before its implementation executions were clumsy, and there was no guarantee of a quick, clean, and relatively painless death. The normal methods used were hanging, decapitation by ax or sword, and even burning at the stake. All of these methods could not guarantee a clean kill, and also took a toll on the poor soul dishing out the harsh punishment. The guillotine changed all of that.
Who invented the guillotine?
The inventor, or should I say inventors of the guillotine were a couple of men named Antoine Louis and Tobias Schmidt. Despite what many people may think, the guillotine isn’t named after its inventors
. It is named after the man who proposed its use for executions as a better, humane alternative, Dr Joseph Ignace Guillotin. Antoine Louis, along with German engineer Tobias Schmidt, who made the recommendation for the telltale angled blade, made the prototype for the device that would become the symbol of the Reign of Terror throughout France following the Revolution. They conducted initial tests on sheep and calves, before moving onto already deceased children, women, and finally men, which proved a little more difficult for the contraption. A slight modification was made, and testing proved beyond any doubt that it was incredibly efficient.
On 25 April, 1792, the first person to be executed by this new machine was highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier. He was led to the red painted device that was sitting in front of an assembled crowd of inquisitive onlookers. Within seconds, he was dead. The device worked exceedingly well, but too well for most of the gathered crowd. Many of them felt that even though it was clinically effective, it failed to provide entertainment value for those who assembled to see a spectacle. After all, there’s nothing like watching a person writhe and squirm in pain and agony as they depart this word.
Even though this new device was effective, and not that popular, within months it would be in almost constant use, killing people in their thousands. In fact, within a month of its first use, one of the inventors of the guillotine was killed by guillotine. Antoine Louis, the man who invented the device would become one of its victims during the initial phase of the Reign of Terror. The man who it was named after, Dr Joseph Ignace Guillotin, although being condemned to die at the hands of Maximillien Robespierre, escaped its clenches and died of natural causes many years later.
- History of executions
- Dr Joseph Ignace Guillotin
- Antoine Louis
- Death of Antoine Louise
- First person executed by guillotine