an invocation of the sensually gothic    
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July 14
The Guillotine
Bastille Day

The story of the guillotine is one in which many accepted truths are false, and some shocking 'myths' happen to be real.

Although the mechanical blade is forever bound to the legacy of post-revolutionary France, the first recorded use of a decapitation machine occurred in Ireland in 1307.

The famed Dr. Guillotin, for whom the modern device is named, proposed the concept as a single, 'humane' method of executing commoners and royalty alike. In previous days, nobility was beheaded by an axe or sword while lessers were hung on the gallows.

The blueprint of the device was drawn by Dr. Antoine Louis, and the resulting guillotine was built by a harpsichord maker named Tobias Smith. The machine's distinctive, oblique blade was a later refinement to ensure a cleaner slice.

Is a guillotined head aware of its state after its severing? Though only the dead know the state of consciousness after a swift. decapitation, there are many credible accounts of seeming responsiveness and awareness displayed by the heads of the executed for up to 30 seconds after the cut.

the guillotine
          Little-known truths about the guillotine:

Dr Guillotin did not die on his own device, though the irony would be perfect. He died of anthrax, aged 75

The horror of the guillotine was used to execute thousands of convicted criminals and German freedom-fighters during Adolf Hitler's nazi regime. The doomed were lain on their backs and made to watch the falling blade. The Frenchman Robespierre is said to have died in the same manner.

The last public execution by guillotine took place in 1939, but the last official beheading using the fearsome machine took place in France, in 1977, to execute a man convicted of the torture and murder of a 21-year-old girl.
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