Historical figures famous for something they never did
Contrary to popular belief, the French doctor Joseph-Ignace Guillotin did not directly invent the feared decapitation machine that bears his name. Ironically, Guillotin was a noted opponent of capital punishment. Desperate to put a stop to the brutal ax beheadings and hangings used in state executions, in 1789 he proposed to the French National Assembly that a more humane and painless method be developed. With Guillotin acting in a managerial role, the plans for what became the guillotine were then drafted by a surgeon named Antoine Louis, who modeled the device on similar machines found in Scotland and Italy.