September 10

This Day in History

General Interest

Sep 10, 1977:

The guillotine falls silent

At Baumetes Prison in Marseille, France, Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant convicted of murder, becomes the last person executed by guillotine.

The guillotine first gained fame during the French Revolution when physician and revolutionary Joseph-Ignace Guillotin won passage of a law requiring all death sentences to be carried out by "means of a machine." Decapitating machines had been used earlier in Ireland and England, and Guillotin and his supporters viewed these devices as more humane than other execution techniques, such as hanging or firing squad. A French decapitating machine was built and tested on cadavers, and on April 25, 1792, a highwayman became the first person in Revolutionary France to be executed by this method.

The device soon became known as the "guillotine" after its advocate, and more than 10,000 people lost their heads by guillotine during the Revolution, including Louis XVI and Mary Antoinette, the former king and queen of France.

Use of the guillotine continued in France in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the last execution by guillotine occurred in 1977. In September 1981, France outlawed capital punishment altogether, thus abandoning the guillotine forever. There is a museum dedicated to the guillotine in Liden, Sweden.

Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

What Happened on Your Birthday?

Pick a Date

Shop HISTORY

  • The French Revolution DVD

    The French Revolution DVD

    The heady, violent days of the French Revolution come to life in this brilliant documentary.

    $11.98

    Buy Now
  • WWII in HD DVD Set

    WWII in HD DVD Set

    The only people to see the war like this were the ones who lived it. Until now… Own this best-selling series today!

    $11.98

    Buy Now
  • The Crusades DVD

    The Crusades DVD

    The definitive DVD exploration of the centuries-long conflict between Muslims and Christians for control of Jerusalem.

    $19.98

    Buy Now