While the use of the guillotine symbolizes a reign of terror during the early days of the French Revolution, its usage was adapted in the late 1700s as a more humane way to carry out public executions. It was regarded as both efficient and fast, sparing the sentenced unnecessary pain. It is said that before it was sanctioned as the official executioner’s tool, King Louis XVI (1754-1793) suggested improving the design to utilize an angled straight blade instead of the original curved one. He himself, along with his queen, Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), benefitted from the enhanced efficiency when they were beheaded.
The tool became a hallmark of the political maneuverings carried out by one of the leaders of the revolution, Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794). Robespierre definitely established himself as a kind of “if-you’re-not-with-me-you’re-against-me” kind of guy, placing those who found themselves in that category labeled as enemies of France. He was also adept at rallying the masses, the sans-culottes tradesmen in Paris, to protest against these enemies.Continue reading “Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Lady Liberty breaks free of shackles on both sides of Atlantic”