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Joseph-Ignace Guillotin Edit Profile

Physician , politician

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was a French physician and politician, who opposed the death penalty. He proposed decapitation as a form of capital punishment in all cases for people from all classes and the execution by means of a machine in order to render it as swift and painless as possible. Guillotin did not invent the machine that bears his name, but when the guillotine was officially adopted in 1792 his name became attached to it.

Background

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was born in Saintes, France, on May 28, 1738.

Education

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was educated at the University of Bordeaux and then entered the Jesuit order, but after several years of teaching at their Irish College in Bordeaux he renounced the religious life and went to Paris to study medicine. A pupil of Antoine Petit, he obtained his degree at Reims in 1770.

Career

After obtaining the degree at Reims in 1770 Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was appointed a member of the medical faculty of Paris. He soon achieved a brilliant reputation in that city, and in 1784 he was appointed a member of the royal commission to investigate the theories of Franz Mesmer.

In 1788 after publishing the pamphlet "Pétition des citoyens domiciliés à Paris" Guillotin was elected one of the representatives of the body of the Third Estate.

In 1789 Guillotin was elected a deputy for Paris to the national assembly and in that capacity submitted the proposal that decapitation no longer be confined to the privileged classes but be adopted in all cases of capital punishment and that it be executed by means of a machine in order to render it as swift and painless as possible.

He retired from politics after the dissolution of the national assembly in 1791.

Works

  • pamphlet

    • "Pétition des citoyens domiciliés à Paris"