Looking for guillotine facts huh? Well, before we start, let us tell you something about beheading or decapitating. Beheading a human is by far one of the most tempting and fascinating methods of killing someone. Why so? Because the human head has always been the prized trophy because the head is not only a visual delight but is also a biological powerhouse that hosts 4 out of our 5 sense – taste, hearing, smell and sight. Whether we accept it or not, we are kind of fascinated by decapitation no matter how grisly and bloody the sight be. Interestingly, human head is comparatively easier to decapitate compared to animals. This is because human head sits on top of a flimsy neck while for animals, the head is held in front of the body, requiring a thicker neck to support it weight. Despite this fact the human head does not lend itself to be an easy trophy and severing the head requires skills.
Many tools have been used till date to decapitate humans. The two most popular ones being swords and axes but it often turned out that the executioner had to deliver 3 or more blows to separate the head of the victim from his/her body. Instances of the head being separated from the body by a single swift swing of the blade (axe or sword) are rare. This raised questions about humane aspect of decapitating someone.
Luckily, the French people got it right and they ended up creating the guillotine that till today remains the fastest methods of execution (though it is not really in use any longer). It is also considered the most humane method of killing because it decapitates in a fraction of a second and requires just one clean drop. So, let us learn 40 interesting guillotine facts. Some of these facts may be quite surprising.
Guillotine Total Weight: 579 kilograms.
Guillotine Blade Weight: 40 kilograms.
Guillotine Post Height: 4.3 meters.
Guillotine Blade Dropping Height: ~ 7.42 feet or ~2.26 meters.
Guillotine Blade Drop Speed: ~ 6.4 meters per second.
Guillotine Blade Total Drop Time: One seventieth of a second (1/70 second).
Guillotine Beheading Time: 0.005 seconds.
Interesting Guillotine Facts: 1-10
1. Guillotine – the name of the decapitation device can be traced back to France during the 1790s and the name became a household word during the French Revolution.
2. Though we believe that France gave the world the guillotine, it is not absolutely true. Guillotine was actually a borrowed concept because similar devices for execution were already in use hundreds of years earlier during the Middle Ages.
3. During the Middle Ages there was a device named ‘Planke’ that was used in Flanders and Germany. Again, there was Halifax Gibbet – a sliding axe that was put to use by the English.
4. However, the inspiration for the guillotine possibly came from Scottish Maiden that was extensively used between 16th century and the 18th century.
5. Some believe that guillotine’s concept came from another Italian device from the Renaissance era that went by the name ‘mannaia’.
6. Historical evidences actually put forward some baffling stuff. Historians say that the French people actually used primitive devices similar to guillotine way before the French Revolution actually started.
7. Though primitive guillotine-like devices were already in use in France, the most used tools for beheading (which was actually a capital punishment) were the axe and the sword, both of which were often very clumsy.
8. Since the sword and the axe turned out to be ineffective tools for smooth beheading, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin – a freemason as well as a French physician came to the government in late 1789 and asked for replacing the sword and the axe with a tool that would be lightning fast and neatly decapitate a person.
9. Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was very much against capital punishment but since he was in no position of putting an end to it once and for all, he wanted that the beheadings be done in a more humane fashion.
10. Unfortunately, the members of National Assembly declined Dr. Guillotin’s request. Not only was the request rejected, the members of the Assembly actually made fun of Dr. Guillotin and laughed at his proposal.