Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Guillotine

On display in France.
Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, an anatomy professor from Paris medical school, had designed the device in 1791 as one which could end life without inflicting pain.

A unique mechanism involving a huge, slanted blade, pulleys and a hinged neck harness was effectively meant to cause instant death.

But this ‘humane’ approach was often called into question, with fears that the swift impact actually caused pain and suffering.

Decapitation was so swift, that the brain might take a few seconds to register decapitation, medics argued.

Post-mortems often revealed eyelids moving up and down, and that faces quivered.
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R J said...

A book - readily available via Amazon and eBay, I should think - called A History of the Guillotine, by my late friend and compatriot Alister Kershaw, has comprehensive details of this sort of thing. Not for the squeamish (least of all the photographs).

Julygirl said...

If I remember my college anatomy correctly, the Medulla Oblongata or Brain Stem carries the message from the brain down through the Nervous System and even after the severing of the head the message continues through the Nervous System. There are anecdotal reports of the body of guillotined persons doing strange things.

lara77 said...

I thought that if maybe this vile machine had not been invented the Republic would have not killed so many French People. Then I realized they would have set up shooting squads; either way many innocents still died. I cannot see or hear about that evil mechanism without thinking of all the innocents murdered during a most dark time in France's history.

elena maria vidal said...

Remember, Lara, how over in Lyon they drowned victims en masse. I have no doubt that if gas chambers had been available the Revolutionaries would have made use of them.

lara77 said...

Elena Maria, you are most definitely correct. That such a so called civilized nation would lower itself to such barbarisms; but then again look at Nazi Germany, the former Soviet Union and today STILL in mainland China; the so called "Peoples Reublic." It sounds like the First French Republic!