Joseph-Ignace Guillotin


Joseph-Ignace Guillotin

Infobox Person
name = Joseph-Ignace Guillotin


image_size =
caption = "Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin" (Musée Carnavalet, Paris
birth_name =
birth_date = May 28 1738
birth_place = Saintes, France
death_date = March 26 1814
death_place =
death_cause =
resting_place =
resting_place_coordinates =
residence =
nationality = French
other_names =
known_for = Proposing the use of the guillotine for executions
education = Irish College, Bordeaux University of Reims University of Paris
employer =
occupation = Physician
spouse =
partner =
children =

Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (IPA2|ɡijɔtɛ̃; May 28, 1738 – March 26, 1814) was a French physician who proposed on October 10, 1789 the use of a mechanical device to carry out death penalties in France. While he did not invent the guillotine, his name became an eponym for it.

Biography

Guillotin composed an essay to obtain the degree of master of arts from the University of Bordeaux. This essay impressed the Jesuits so much that they persuaded him to enter their order and he was appointed a professor of literature at the Irish College at Bordeaux. He left however after a few years and travelled to Paris to study medicine, becoming a pupil of Antoine Petit. He gained a diploma from the faculty at Rheims in 1768 and later won a prize given by the Paris faculty, the title of Doctor-Regent.

In 1784, when Franz Mesmer began to publicize his theory of "animal magnetism", which was considered offensive by many, Louis XVI appointed a commission to investigate it and Guillotin was appointed as a member of it along with Benjamin Franklin and others.

In December 1788 Guillotin drafted a pamphlet entitled "Petition of the Citizens Living in Paris", concerning the proper constitution of the States-General. As a result he was summoned by the French parliament to give an account of his opinions, which served to increase his popularity and on May 2 1789 he became one of 10 Paris deputies in the "Assemblée Constituante", and was secretary to the assembly from June 1789 to October 1791.

As a member of the assembly Guillotin mainly directed his attention towards medical reform, and it was on October 10 1789, during a debate on capital punishment, that he proposed that "the criminal shall be decapitated; this will be done solely by means of a simple mechanism." The "mechanism" was defined as "a machine that beheads painlessly".

Despite this proposal, Guillotin was opposed to the death penalty and hoped that a more humane and less painful method of execution would be the first step toward a total abolition of the death penalty. He also hoped that fewer families and children would witness executions, and vowed to make them more private and individualized. It was also his belief that a standard death penalty by decapitation would prevent the cruel and unjust system of the day. At that time, it was customary for the wealthy and the nobility to arrange for their families to pay the executioner to guarantee a quick death. The lower classes, however, were often decapitated in several blows with a very dull sword or axe, or were executed by methods such as quartering or hanging. Dr. Guillotin assumed that if a fair system was established where the only method of Capital Punishment was death by mechanical decapitation, then the public would feel far more appreciative of their rights.

A few days after the debate, a comic song about Guillotin and his proposal appeared in the Royalist periodical, Actes des Apôtres, which is considered to be the reason Dr. Guillotin's name became associated with the machine. [cite journal | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Dr Guillotin | journal = Chambers's Edinburgh Journal | volume = I | issue = | pages = pp. 218–221 | publisher = | location = | date = January - June 1844 | url = http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=LLQCAAAAIAAJ&pg=RA3-PA218 | doi = | id = | accessdate = 2008-09-03]

Towards the end of The Terror, Guillotin was arrested and imprisoned because of a letter from Count Mere, who, about to be executed, commended his wife and children to the care of the doctor. He was freed from prison in 1794 after Robespierre fell from power and abandoned his political career to resume the medical profession.

Guillotin became one of the first French doctors to support Edward Jenner's discovery of vaccination and in 1805 was the President of the Committee for Vaccination in Paris. He was also one of the founders of the Academy of Medicine of Paris.

Trivia

* The association with the guillotine so embarrassed Dr. Guillotin's family that they petitioned the French government to rename it; when the government refused, they instead changed their own family name.
* According to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable a person named Guillotin was indeed executed by the guillotine - he was J.M.V. Guillotin, a doctor of Lyons. [cite book | last = Brewer | first = Ebenezer Cobham | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable | publisher = Harper & Row | date = 1970 | location = | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = ]

Notes

References

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Joseph Ignace Guillotin — (* 28. Mai 1738 in Saintes; † 26. März 1814 in Paris) war französischer Arzt und Politiker. Die Hinrichtungsmaschine Guillotine wurde nach ihm benannt. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Joseph-Ignace Guillotin — (* 28. Mai 1738 in Saintes; † 26. März 1814 in Paris) war französischer Arzt und Politiker. Die Hinrichtungsmaschine Guillotine wurde nach ihm benannt. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Joseph Ignace Guillotin — de Jean Michel Moreau, Musée Carnavalet, Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Joseph-Ignace Guillotin — Joseph Ignace Guillotin (né le 28 mai 1738 à Saintes et mort le 26 mars 1814 à Paris) fut un médecin et homme politique français. Il est connu pour avoir fait …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Joseph Ignace Guillotin — Retrato de Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin. Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin (28 de mayo de 1738 25 de febrero de 1814) fue un médico y diputado francés. Su nombre se asocia a la invención de la guillotina, dispositivo mecánico para ejecutar a condenados… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Joseph Ignace Guillotin — Den franske læge og revolutionsmand Joseph Ignace Guillotin (28. maj 1738 1814) har lagt navn til guillotinen ikke fordi han opfandt eller konstruerede den (lignende apparater havde i tidligere århundreder lejlighedsvis været brugt i både… …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Guillotin, Joseph Ignace — ► (1738 1814) Médico francés. Propuso que se decapitara a los reos por medio de la que fue llamada guillotina …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Guillotin — Joseph Ignace Guillotin Joseph Ignace Guillotin (* 28. Mai 1738 in Saintes; † 26. März 1814 in Paris) war französischer Arzt und Politiker. Die Hinrichtungsmaschine Guillotine wurde nach ihm benannt. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Joseph Guillotin — Joseph Ignace Guillotin Joseph Ignace Guillotin Joseph Ignace Guillotin (né le 28 mai 1738 à Saintes et mort le 26 mars 1814 à Paris) fut un médecin et homme politique français. Il est connu pour avoir fait …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Guillotin —  Cette page d’homonymie répertorie des personnes (réelles ou fictives) partageant un même patronyme. Joseph Ignace Guillotin (1738 1814), médecin et homme politique français, dont le nom a été donné à la guillotine ; Simon Guillotin,… …   Wikipédia en Français


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