Heads Will Roll

Ancestry.com has recently put up the records of those guillotined during the French Revolution in the time of the Terror.

The monarchy had fallen; in its place were successive governments that all seemed to lose control as quickly as they acquired it. The moment the group in power was overtaken, they were sent to the Dr Guillotine’s machine in their turn.

Not a few (in fact, quite a lot) of the deaths were due to personal vendettas. If you had been quarrelling with your cousin for fifteen years about your debts, and you suddenly found yourself in a position to inform on your cousin, even if it weren’t true . . . well, human nature being what it is, lots of people took that opportunity and accused neighbors and family members who they thought had it coming. In the time of the Terror, real evidence wasn’t usually necessary, and the result was usually a swift chop of a sharp blade. Amongst the most famous of the French Revolution’s victims: Louis XVI (whose occupation is listed as “roi”–I think that might be humor, though it isn’t funny), his sister Madame Elisabeth, and Marie Antoinette. Interestingly, Marie Antoinette is listed as Marie d’Autriche Antoinette–perhaps a nod to her unflattering nickname, La Autrichienne [“the Austrian bitch”]?

HERE, you can search this archive.

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