During the French revolution , some 17000 french men and women were
officially decapitated. These names fill two books and for two
centuries, they where accessible to only a few scholars. Upon reading
this list, we now understand better how come people of different ages
and social classes were sent to the executioner on account of their
counter revolutionary way of thinking. Many were sent to their death
by accident, maliciously, by fantasy of common law as an example of
Those victims were 28% farmers, 30% laborers and 20% merchants. This
diversity brings as a consequence that today, 5% of the present
population of France has an ancestor who was executed. In 1789, the
population is disgusted by the way executions are held. Condemned
persons are tied to a big wheel and beaten to death. The executioner
starts by breaking the person's limbs with a big stick and closes the
session by hits to the chest. This is then judged unworthy for
intellectuals. Hanging with the sight of dying people dangling and
wriggling at the end of a rope is considered just as barbarian. The
masses almost envy the nobles who are decapitated even if it takes a
few blows because of unsharpened axes. Voyeurism of the time wants
blood. The notion behind the revolution is to render available to the
masses, all the "privileges" given to a few.
Dr Guillotin then
proposes a mechanical and infallible way to separate the head from the
body. In 189, everybody agrees and the contraption is called a
"guillotine". Sebastien Mercier, poet, calls it a soft torture.
On august the second 1793, the authorities order the destruction of a
territory called "la Vendee", along with rebels, houses and crops. 52%
of executions by the "guillotine" will take place in western France,
where our ancestors come from.
This is an official list of executed Gaudreau's:
Gautereau Jacques, living at Chateau-Trehan in the department of
lower-Loire, sentenced to death by the military commission of Nantes.
Gautereau Jean, ploughman, living in Landrevieille, a department of
Vendee, sentenced to death as a crook from Vendee, on april the 21,
1793, by the military commission of Sables.
Gautereau Jean, living in Bressuire, a department of Deux-Sevres,
sentenced to death by the military commission of Nantes.
Gautreau Georges, vine grower, living in Martigne, a department of
Mayenne and Loire, sentenced to death for conspiracy by the military
commission of Saumur.