During the French revolution, it was the kindly doctor Joseph Ignace Guillotin, who decided, in a humanitarian gesture, that the guillotine shouldn’t just be for the benefit of the French nobility.
Oh no. In the true spirit of the new French republic, it should be the right of every French citizen to have his or her head cut off by this new machine, as the previous human executioner would sometimes have to hack away several times, before heads would roll!
The guillotine saw off an estimated 40,000 victims during the Revolution among which King Louis XVI, his wife, Marie Antoinette and Revolutionary leaders Robespiere and Danton.
The guillotine continued to be used long after the French Revolution and was the only official and legal form of execution in France until capital punishment was banned in 1981.