The guillotine is a device designed for carrying out executions by beheading. It consists of a tall upright frame in which a weighted and angled blade is raised to the top and suspended.
The device is best known for its use in France, in particular during the French Revolution, when it became celebrated as the people’s avenger by supporters of the Revolution and vilified as the pre-eminent symbol of the Reign of Terror by opponents.
The guillotine continued to be used long after the Revolution and remained France’s standard method of judicial execution until the abolition of capital punishment in 1981. The last person guillotined in France was Hamida Djandoubi, on September 10, 1977.
There have been a lot of experiments and even more anecdotes, but there is some evidence that despite it’s intention as a humane method of execution, consciousness may actually persist for a few seconds before the drop in blood pressure to the brain would cause unconsciousness.
As for the date of the last execution via guillotine, I admit to being surprised – that was only about five or six years before when I was in France, where my most vivid memory was playing this Aztec video game at my host family’s apartment.
Hey, don’t look at me like that – I was in fourth grade or something like that. Also, an Aztec video game? Come on, admit it – you would have played the shit out of that, too.
I’ve always wondered that more people didn’t commit suicide by guillotine. Just saying, if you’ve already decided to go out, you might as well go out with style.