The Guillotine is adopted as the Revolution's official means of execution

The guillotine became infamous (and acquired its name) in France at the time of the French Revolution.

The device derives its name from Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a French doctor and member of the Revolutionary National Assembly, on whose suggestion it was introduced. Dr. Guillotin proposed the use of a mechanical device to carry out the death penalty. The basis for his recommendation is believed to have been his perception that it was a humane form of execution, contrasting with the methods used in pre-revolutionary, ancien régime (old regime) France. In France, before the guillotine, members of the nobility were beheaded with a sword or axe, while commoners were usually hanged, or more gruesome methods of executions were used (the wheel, burning at the stake, etc.). The guillotine was thus perceived to deliver an immediate death without risk of misses. The guillotine was adopted as the official means of execution on 20 March 1792. The guillotine was from then on the only legal execution method in France until the abolition of the death penalty in 1981, apart from certain crimes against the security of the state, which entailed execution by firing squad.

The guillotine (English pronunciation: /ˈɡɪlətiːn/ or /ˈɡiː.ətiːn/; French: [ɡijɔtin]) was a device used for carrying out executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall upright frame from which a blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, severing the head from the body. The device is noted for long being the main method of execution in France and, more particularly, for its use during the French Revolution, when it "became a part of popular culture, celebrated as the people's avenger by supporters of the Revolution and vilified as the pre-eminent symbol, of the Terror by opponents". Nevertheless, the guillotine continued to be used long after the French Revolution in several countries.

An estimated 40,000 people travelled on the tumbrils through Paris to die under Madame Guillotine.

Facts and Figures

* Total weight of a Guillotine was about 580 kilos (1278lb)
* The blade weighed over 40 kilos (88.2lb)
* Height of side posts was just over 4m (14ft)
* The blade drop was 2.3m (88 inches)
* Power at impact was 400 kilos (888lb) per square inch.