Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Guillotine
(2,776 words)

1. Prior history

Letting a sharp hatchet swish down in a runner between two verticals onto the secured neck of a condemned criminal in order to separate his or her head and body with a single, precise blow was in principle already a tried and trusted method of execution by 1789 (cf. fig. 1). It is attested from the 15th century, especially in Italy, where it was called the mannaia (“directed axe”), and a 1730 travel journal by the Dominican Labat gives a detailed description [1. 40–41]; […

Cite this page
Reichardt, Rolf, “Guillotine”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 23 July 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_020502>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20180915



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