Human history knows many instruments for torture and devices for executions. And only one device was invented out of humane motives and with the aim of making the execution process as painless and quick as possible. It is called the guillotine.
The reasons for the appearance of the guillotine
At the end of the 18th century, brutal methods of execution were practiced: burning at the stake, hanging and quartering. And only people of high origin were executed by beheading with a sword or ax. But even this type of execution did not always take place successfully, turning into a mockery of the person being executed. So the need arose to invent a device for a more humane method of execution.
In 1791, the doctor and member of the National Assembly J. Guillotin suggested using the guillotine for this purpose. She was not his invention. Similar devices have already been used before, in other countries, for example, in Scotland. There she was called the Scottish maiden.
However, Guillotin made some changes to the design of the Virgin, in particular, the straight knife for execution was replaced with an oblique blade. And it is precisely such a device that has become the standard instrument of the death penalty for a number of countries.
The guillotine guaranteed a quick and painless death. In addition, it was applied to absolutely all convicts, which emphasized the equality of citizens before the law.
What is guillotine
This device is a mechanism for quickly cutting off the head as part of an executable death sentence. Execution in which the guillotine is used is called guillotine.
The main part of the guillotine is a heavy oblique knife, popularly called a "lamb". Its weight varies from 40 to 100 kg. The knife moves freely along vertical guides. Before the execution, it was lifted and set at a height of 2-3 meters, where it was fixed with a rope and a latch. The executed person was laid on a horizontal bench and his neck was secured with two planks with a notch. The lower board was stationary, and the upper one moved in a vertical plane. After that, with the help of a lever mechanism, the latch holding the knife was opened, and it fell with great speed on the convict's neck.
The first execution with a guillotine took place on April 25, 1792. For a long time, guillotining was carried out publicly, according to tradition. Only in the middle of the 20th century, executions began to be carried out on the territory of prisons, behind closed doors.
The last execution, carried out with the help of a guillotine, took place on September 10, 1977. This was the last death penalty in Western Europe.
The guillotine mechanism has found its application in peaceful areas of life. Today, the guillotine is the general name for mechanisms for cutting metal sheets, paper, and for chopping off cables.
Guillotine crushers also appeared in the meat processing industry. In addition to the above, a guillotine is a device for trimming the ends of cigars.