Saturday, July 30, 2011

Today -100: July 30, 1911: Of popular wars, bloodless revolutions, elections, bounties, and guillotines

A “highly qualified American observer of European affairs” thinks that the Moroccan crisis shows that a war between Britain and Germany might not be unpopular in Britain.

The NYT reassures its readers that the ongoing revolution in Haiti is bloodless.

The Canadian Parliament has been dissolved, and elections will be fought in part on the reciprocity treaty with the US.

The government of Persia offers a $100,000 reward for the head of the former shah, Mohammed Ali Mirza, who is trying to recapture the throne.

The Paris guillotine (the “widow”) is moved inside La Santé Prison. In future it will no longer be ceremonially transported to the prison prior to executions on a cart drawn by a white horse (French executions were public until 1939). The guillotine had been kept in a shed outside the house of the public executioner, Anatole Deibler (who inherited the job from his father, and also married into a family of executioners, which is not at all creepy). He assembled guillotines himself, IKEA-style, from parts ordered from separate carpenters and joiners, so none of them knew what they were working on. He also put together guillotines intended for export. China just ordered one. Deibler’s “staff has a sense of humor, for a year or two ago they amused themselves by strapping their chief to ‘the widow,’ with his neck under the fatal knife, and left him there for quite a while to appreciate the sensation of one of the condemned wretches whom he has so often dispatched to the next world.”

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