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date: 30 October 2020


A Dictionary of World History
Anne KerrAnne Kerr, Edmund WrightEdmund Wright


The instrument used to inflict capital punishment by decapitation during the French Revolution. A similar device had been used in Europe since the Middle Ages and had fallen into disuse when Dr Guillotin (1738–1814) suggested its reintroduction. After satisfactory tests on dead bodies it was erected on the Place de Grève in Paris in 1792. ‘La Guillotine’ was used extensively during the Reign of Terror, accounting for 1376 victims between 10 June and 27 July 1794.