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Killing Machine – Less known facts
The most nerve racking killing machine of France that was used for executions has too many interesting stories during it’s existence. You call it ‘Guillotine’ or a ‘National Razor’, this machine has beheaded thousands of people included King Louis XVI, Robespierre and Marie-Antoinette. There are a lot of incidents and stories we get to read about this dreadful punishment. No wonder this was invented in the ‘Reign of Terror’. Some from those…
It was invented as a part of having a gentler method of Execution
There was this physician who was opposing the way of beheading and thought it is cruel to kill people with swords and axes though they committed some unforgivable crimes. Precisely on 10th October 1789, during a debate on Capital punishment, the physician Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin has proposed for a simple mechanism that beheads the convicts painlessly and quickly. He even help administrating the design of the machine that was done by a French doctor, Antoine Louis and built by a German harpsichord maker named Tobias Schmidt. The device was prepared by 1790 and Dr. Joseph started being away from it already. But it couldn’t stop them naming it against him. It was named ‘Guillotine’. Officially the first punishment that was given by this machine was in April 1792. Later then, Guillotin and his family members tried a lot of get rid of his name being claimed for the Killing machine and they’ve even petitioned the French Government but didn’t find any favor coming their way. It is still being called by his name.
The execution had a long queues of audiences each time
In mid-1790’s, which was popularly known as Reign of Terror, a lot of enemies of French revolution has seen the sharp ends of the Guillotine’s blades. The people of that period were upset that the machine was too quick and they didn’t find it entertaining. They always lodged complaints to the government that they used to enjoy that entire event of beheading when it involved axes, swords and breaking wheels. The entire execution used to be a well-planned and organized event each time. The spectators used to come down to the venue, listen to the mementoes that has the list of the names of victims and other programs. Then they used to walk down to the nearest restaurant called ‘Cabaret de la Guillotine’ which used to get set up especially for the audience of the execution event. They actually had options to choose their seating position and they could hear the last words of the victims.
It was a popular Plaything for kids then.
We won’t allow kids to touch a knife of blade while they are playing, but French kids of that generation has actually played with their very own miniature Guillotines. They were in fact allowed to watch the executions and that’s where they find the toy machines in the fare nearby. It was a very popular toy back then. It was close to two foot tall that has similar blade and timbers like the original one. Later they have even produced an almost functioning Guillotine replicas where kids used to play execution of dolls and rodents some times. After a while the toys got banned since the parents were concerned with the vicious influence on kids with the toys. But the novelty guillotines were available in the market that were often found on some upper class dining tables. They were mostly decorative but rarely used as bread and vegetable slicers. Do you have an opinion on them?
The mechanists of Guillotines were National celebrities.
The reputation of the operators of the killing machines has increased proportionally with the reputation of the machines. The operators that handled those machines had a great deal of notability and were closely observed when they are in action. They were judged based on how quickly and accurately they could arrange multiple beheadings. It often used to be passed on by generations and was taken as Family legacy. The famous Sanson family has been into this business for over 50 years and was involved into the beheading of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoniette along with thousands of other victims. Sanson’s and Deibler’s family heroes used get a lot of attention in street wise events and their choice of clothing on the Scaffold used be the inspiration for the Fashion Trends. Not just the regular population, but these operators were quite fascination among the criminals and gangsters too. There are proofs that some of them used to get tattoos on their bodies with some slogans such as ‘My head goes to Deibler’. How cool is that?
Horrified examinations and experiments used to be done on the heads of victims.
Since ever they’ve started slaughtering with the machines, there were innumerous speculations spreading that the heads remain conscious for a while after being beheaded. The speculations started being serious by mid of 1793 when an assistant operator of Guillotine had slapped the face of one of his victim’s heads and some of the audience had claimed that they’ve seen the cheeks flush in anger. Some of the observers and scientists took charge and examined in many ways to prove that they can move after execution. They used ask those heads to blink their eyes. They used to expose them to flames and sometimes ammonia solutions to check if they can still react. At the end of 18th century a doctor named, Dassy de Lignieres had tried to pump blood in to the head of a guillotined child murderer who just got beheaded to find out if he can speak. The horrible experiments came to an end in 20th century where there were some conclusions that the heads can still sense and react for some moments after being separated from bodies. But a lot of people felt it is very gruesome to experiments of the heads after decapitation.
There are more and more stories that come out as much as we dig. The usage of the beheading machines came to an end on 10th September 1977 and the last one to be punished was Hamida Djandoubi. He was a Tunisian immigrant who had been declared guilty for the rape and murder of 21-year-old Elisabeth Bousquet and his beheading happened in Marseille.
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