An illustration of two men, Egmont and Horn, being executed by beheading.

Execution of Egmont and Horn

An illustration of two men, Egmont and Horn, being executed by beheading.

The guillotine was a device used for carrying out executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall upright frame from which a heavy blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, severing the victim's head from his or her 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. The guillotine also "became a part of popular culture, celebrated as the people's avenger by supporters of the Revolution and vilified as the preeminent symbol of the Terror by opponents.

Guillotine

The guillotine was a device used for carrying out executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall…

An illustration of a guillotine which was a device used to carry out executions by decapitation. Guillotines consist of a tall, vertical frame where a blade is suspended.

Guillotine

An illustration of a guillotine which was a device used to carry out executions by decapitation. Guillotines…

(1.) The guillotine is an instrument employed for the purpose of decapitation. It was officially introduced into France as the means of inflicting capital punishment in April, 1792. It was named after its reputed inventor, Dr. Joseph Ingace-Guillotin, who, contrary to popular belief, died a natural death, and not a victim of his own invention. The instrument consists of two upright posts held together at the top by a cross beam, the former being perpendicularly so grooved as to allow of the falling in a direct line a broad steel blade, whose edge is cut obliquely. The latter, sometimes weighted with lead, descends upon the neck of the criminal immediately after the cord which holds it up is released by the executioner.
(2.) A guillotine is a machine, similar in name and in general construction to the above, employed by bookbinders. It is used for cutting paper and trimming the edges of books after the sheets have been sewn together.

Guillotine

(1.) The guillotine is an instrument employed for the purpose of decapitation. It was officially introduced…

Colonel Sloughter signing the order to execute two rebels. According to popular lore, Sloughter was against executing the men, but his signature was obtained while he was intoxicated, by enemies of the accused.

Sloughter Signing the Death-Warrant

Colonel Sloughter signing the order to execute two rebels. According to popular lore, Sloughter was…