THE GUILLOTINE

1/25/2018

Throughout the history of human ‘civilization’, beheadings were a common practice. The usual tools of beheadings were swords, axes, and for more effect and greater gore, knives. The end result was the same, when the head is cut off, the body dies; and if viewed publicly, the witnesses take notice. With the advent of the Renaissance in the 1300’s, disciplines using improved knowledge flourished. The beheading machines, a remarkable invention, has its origins in 1286 with the introduction of the Halifax gibbet. Using a vertical slide to direct a weighted axe head to the victim’s neck, executioners need not be strong or accurate; mechanical advantage reigned supreme. The French Revolution (1789-1799) was the motivating force that pushed a French physician named Antoine Lewis to partner with a German engineer and harpsichord maker, Tobias Schmidt, to perfect a model with an angular blade. It was named the GUILLOTINE after Joseph Guillotine, a French physician who favored ending life without suffering. It was a hit, over 30,000 people got a neck up, hair cut during the turmoil. It played such a significant role that 100 years later, a 1,000′ tall model was proposed for the Centennial Celebration of the Revolution. It was beaten out by the Eiffel Tower. This destroyed the French’s last attempt to get even with her old adversaries, the English. The cutting blade was to be 80 feet wide which could decapitate 40 people at once from 2 sides. Using an angular blade with the edge rolled over, it no longer severed heads, it hydraulically blew heads off with the stored energy of height and weight. Knowing the English have a bizarre humor of watching severed heads, the French would gather up the hysterical English and install 40 more laughing idiots into the next cycle. In time, no more buffoon Brits. But alas, it was not constructed. The French settled by installing any English enemy face up in a standard Guillotine, so they could BLOODY WELL DIE LAUGHING. 

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