Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The French Revolution: II

The guillotine
In line with humanitarian Enlightenment thought, the French revolutionaries wished to reform the system of punishment. In 1791 by a narrow majority, the Legislative Assembly voted to retain the death penalty but to replace the penalty of breaking on the wheel wit a new humane method of execution, the guillotine. Named after Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a professor of anatomy and a member of the Constituent Assembly, it operated on the Newtonian law of gravity and, it was argued, would avoid the botched decapitations of the past.