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Gregor Guillotin Page
|Born||28 May 1738|
|Died||26 March 1814 75) (aged|
|Resting place||Père Lachaise Cemetery|
|Education|| Irish College, Bordeaux |
University of Paris
|Known for||Proposing a painless method for executions, inspiring the guillotine|
Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (French: [ʒɔzɛf iɲas ɡijɔtɛ̃] ; 28 May 1738 – 26 March 1814) was a French physician, politician and freemason who proposed on 10 October 1789 the use of a device to carry out death penalties in France, as a less painful method of execution. Although he really did not invent the guillotine, and in fact opposed the death penalty, his name became an eponym for it. The actual inventor of the prototype was a man named Tobias Schmidt working with the kings physician Antoine Louis.
Guillotin wrote an essay to get the degree of Master of Arts from the University of Bordeaux. This essay impressed the Jesuits so much that they persuaded him to enter their order and he became a professor of literature at the Irish College at Bordeaux. However, he left after a few years and travelled to Paris to study medicine, becoming a pupil of Antoine Petit. He gained a diploma from the faculty at Reims in 1768 and later won a prize given by the Paris faculty, the title of Doctor-Regent.
In 1784, when Franz Mesmer began to publicize his theory of "animal magnetism", which was considered offensive by many, Louis XVI appointed a commission to investigate it and Guillotin was appointed a member, along with Benjamin Franklin and others.
In December 1788, Guillotin drafted a pamphlet entitled Petition of the Citizens Living in Paris, concerning the proper constitution of the States-General. As a result, he was summoned by the French parliament to give an account of his opinions, which served to increase his popularity. On 2 May 1789, he became one of 10 Paris deputies in the Estates-General of 1789 and was secretary to the body from June 1789 to October 1791.
As a member of the assembly, Guillotin mainly directed his attention towards medical reform. On 10 October 1789, during a debate on capital punishment, he proposed that "the criminal shall be decapitated; this will be done solely by means of a simple mechanism." [ citation needed ] Despite this proposal, Guillotin was opposed to the death penalty and hoped that a more humane and less painful method of execution would be the first step toward a total abolition of the death penalty. He also hoped that fewer families and children would witness executions and vowed to make them more private and individualized. It was also his belief that a standard death penalty by decapitation would prevent the cruel and unjust system of the day.[ citation needed ]The "mechanism" was defined as "a machine that beheads painlessly". His proposal appeared in the Royalist periodical, Les Actes des Apôtres . At that time, beheading in France was typically done by axe or sword, which did not always cause immediate death. Additionally, beheading was reserved for the nobility, while commoners were typically hanged. Guillotin assumed that if a fair system was established where the only method of capital punishment was death by mechanical decapitation, then the public would feel far more appreciative of their rights.
On 1 December 1789, Guillotin made a remark during a follow-up speech to the Assembly about capital punishment. "Now, with my machine, I cut off your head in the twinkling of an eye, and you never feel it!" The statement quickly became a popular joke, and few days after the debate a comic song about Guillotin and "his" machine circulated, forever tying his name to it. The Moniteur of 18 December 1789 deplored the joking but repeated Guillotin's "twinkling of an eye" statement for posterity.For the remainder of his life, Guillotin would deeply regret that the machine was named after him.
Towards the end of the Reign of Terror, a letter from the Comte de Méré to Guillotin fell into the hands of the public prosecutor, Fouquier-Tinville in which the Count, who was to be executed, commended his wife and children to Guillotin's care. The authorities demanded Guillotin inform them of the whereabouts of the Count's wife and children. As Guillotin either would not or could not give the information, he was arrested and imprisoned. He was freed from prison in the general amnesty of 9 Thermidor 1794 after Robespierre fell from power, and abandoned his political career to resume the medical profession.[ citation needed ]
Guillotin became one of the first French doctors to support Edward Jenner's discovery of vaccination and in 1805 was the President of the Committee for Vaccination in Paris. He also founded one of the precursors of the National Academy of Medicine.[ citation needed ]
The association with the guillotine so embarrassed Dr. Guillotin's family that they petitioned the French government to rename it; when the government refused, they instead changed their own family name. By coincidence, a person named Guillotin was indeed executed by the guillotine – he was J.M.V. Guillotin, a doctor of Lyons.This coincidence may have contributed to erroneous statements that Guillotin was put to death on the machine that bears his name; however, in reality, Guillotin died at home in Paris in 1814 of natural causes, specifically from a carbuncle, and is now buried in the Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. He was married to Louise Saugrain, sister of the physician and chemist Antoine Saugrain.
Joseph Guillotin was initiated into Freemasonry, in 1765 at "La Parfaite Union" lodge in Angoulême. Very active as a mason, he joined several other lodges. As a deputy of the Grand Lodge from 1772 he took part in the birth of the Grand Orient of France and to all its conventions until 1790. In 1773 he became Worshipful Master of the lodge "La Concorde Fraternelle" in Paris. In 1776 he founded the "La Vérité" lodge and was often attending Les Neuf Soeurs.
Guillotin features in Andrew Miller's Costa prize winning novel Pureand in the Vampire Dawn series for teenage emerging readers by Anne Rooney. He is also a primary character in the 1992 novel Dr Guillotine, written by the actor Herbert Lom.
Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The sentence ordering that someone be punished in such a manner is referred to as a death sentence, whereas the act of carrying out such a sentence is known as an execution. A prisoner who has been sentenced to death and is awaiting execution is referred to as condemned, and is said to be on death row. Crimes that are punishable by death are known as capital crimes, capital offences or capital felonies, and vary depending on the jurisdiction, but commonly include serious offences such as murder, mass murder, aggravated cases of rape, child rape, child sexual abuse, terrorism, treason, espionage, sedition, piracy, aircraft hijacking, drug trafficking and drug dealing, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and in some cases, the most serious acts of recidivism, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping.
Franz Friedrich Anton Mesmer was a German doctor with an interest in astronomy. He theorised the existence of a natural energy transference occurring between all animated and inanimate objects; this he called "animal magnetism", sometimes later referred to as mesmerism. Mesmer's theory attracted a wide following between about 1780 and 1850, and continued to have some influence until the end of the 19th century. In 1843 the Scottish doctor James Braid proposed the term "hypnosis" for a technique derived from animal magnetism; today the word "mesmerism" generally functions as a synonym of "hypnosis".
A guillotine is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading. The device consists of a tall, upright frame with a weighted and angled blade suspended at the top. The condemned person is secured with stocks at the bottom of the frame, positioning the neck directly below the blade. The blade is then released, swiftly and forcefully decapitating the victim with a single, clean pass so that the head falls into a basket or other receptacle below.
Decapitation is the complete separation of the head from the body. Such an injury is fatal to humans and animals, since it deprives all other organs of the involuntary functions that are needed for the body to function, while the brain is deprived of oxygenated blood and blood pressure.
Jean Sylvain Bailly was a French astronomer, mathematician, freemason, and political leader of the early part of the French Revolution. He presided over the Tennis Court Oath, served as the mayor of Paris from 1789 to 1791, and was ultimately guillotined during the Reign of Terror.
Marcel Chevalier worked as the last chief executioner in France. He succeeded André Obrecht in 1976 and held his position until 1981, when capital punishment was abolished under president François Mitterrand and justice minister Robert Badinter. The method of application of the death penalty for civil capital offences in France from 1791 to 1981 was beheading with the guillotine. Military executions were by firing squad.
The Maiden is an early form of guillotine, or gibbet, that was used between the 16th and 18th centuries as a means of execution in Edinburgh, Scotland. The device was introduced in 1564 during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, and was last used in 1716. It long predates the use of the guillotine during the French Revolution.
Charles-Henri Sanson, full title Chevalier Charles-Henri Sanson de Longval, was the royal executioner of France during the reign of King Louis XVI, and High Executioner of the First French Republic. He administered capital punishment in the city of Paris for over forty years, and by his own hand executed nearly 3,000 people, including the King himself.
Capital punishment in France is banned by Article 66-1 of the Constitution of the French Republic, voted as a constitutional amendment by the Congress of the French Parliament on 19 February 2007 and simply stating "No one can be sentenced to the death penalty". The death penalty was already declared illegal on 9 October 1981 when President François Mitterrand signed a law prohibiting the judicial system from using it and commuting the sentences of the six people on death row to life imprisonment. The last execution took place by guillotine, being the main legal method since the French Revolution; Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian citizen convicted of torture and murder on French soil, who was put to death in September 1977 in Marseille.
A guillotine is a device for carrying out executions by decapitation, named after Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.
Jean d'Arcet or Jean Darcet was a French chemist, and director of the porcelain works at Sèvres. He was one of the first to manufacture porcelain in France.
Capital punishment in Sweden was last used in 1910, though it remained a legal sentence for at least some crimes until 1973. It is now outlawed by the Swedish Constitution, which states that capital punishment, corporal punishment, and torture are strictly prohibited. At the time of the abolition of the death penalty in Sweden, the legal method of execution was beheading.
Dr. Antoine François Pierre Saugrain was a French-born physician and chemist.
The Halifax Gibbet was an early guillotine used in the town of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. Estimated to have been installed during the 16th century, it was used as an alternative to beheading by axe or sword. Halifax was once part of the Manor of Wakefield, where ancient custom and law gave the Lord of the Manor the authority to execute summarily by decapitation any thief caught with stolen goods to the value of 13½d or more, or who confessed to having stolen goods of at least that value. Decapitation was a fairly common method of execution in England, but Halifax was unusual in two respects: it employed a guillotine-like machine that appears to have been unique in the country, and it continued to decapitate petty criminals until the mid-17th century.
Capital punishment is forbidden in Switzerland by article 10, paragraph 1 of the Swiss Federal Constitution. Capital punishment was abolished from federal criminal law in 1942, but remained available in military criminal law until 1992. The last actual executions in Switzerland took place during World War II.
"Reflections on the Guillotine" is an extended essay written in 1957 by Albert Camus. In the essay Camus takes an uncompromising position for the abolition of the death penalty. Camus's view is similar to that of Cesare Beccaria and the Marquis de Sade, the latter having also argued that murder premeditated and carried out by the state was the worst kind. Camus states that he does not base his argument on sympathy for the convicted but on logical grounds and on proven statistics. Camus also argues that capital punishment is an easy option for the government where remedy and reform may be possible.
Capital punishment in Belgium was formally abolished on August 1, 1996 for all crimes, in both peacetime and wartime. The last execution for crimes committed in peacetime took place in July 1863, when in Ypres a farmer was executed for murder. The last execution for an ordinary crime took place on 26 March 1918 at Veurne Prison when Emile Ferfaille, a military officer found guilty of killing his pregnant girlfriend, was guillotined. This was the first execution to be carried out since 1863. The guillotine that was used had to be imported from France.
Capital punishment in modern Greece was carried out using the guillotine or by firing squad. It was last applied in 1972, and the death penalty was abolished in stages between 1975 and 2005.
Nicolas Jacques Pelletier was a French highwayman who was the first person to be executed by guillotine.
Anatole Deibler was a French executioner. Succeeding his father, Louis-Antoine-Stanislas Deibler, as the lead French executioner, he participated in the execution of 395 criminals during his 54-year career. During his 40 years as lead executioner he was responsible for 299 beheadings. He is considered one of the most famous French executioners. This is due to the fact that most of his executions were public and were widely reported by the media. The advent of the camera made him somewhat of a celebrity. He represented an institution that did not fit in with the current time: the medieval beheading in more modern time with cars, technology and mass media.