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Even among all the creative execution methods mankind has dreamed up over the years, the Guillotine stands out, raising nightmares of show trials and cutting (ahem) an imposing silhouette. Originally created as a more “humane” capital punishment, the head-chopping machine soon became synonymous with the bloodthirsty excesses of the French Revolution.

This week, Sean takes us through the history of “Madame la Guillotine” – from its British ancestors to its horribly iconic role in 1790s France during the Reign of Terror, and all the way through to the last state-sanctioned guillotining in 1977. Along the way, we tour some of the bloodiest of those bloodthirsty excesses, and try our best not to get lost in the maze of the First French Republic. Notable heads in baskets: King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Robespierre.


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