Saturday, 15 March 2008

Guillotined ancestors


There's a fascinating article in today's Times which links to a new site in which French people can discover whether any of their ancestors were guillotined between 1792 and 1795.

The creator of the site, Raymond Combes, a computer programmer and amateur genealogist, believes that his work will force historians to reappraise the period. According to the official figure 17,500 people were guillotined in this period but M. Combes already has more than 18,000 names on his site, which is based on lists compiled for the bicentenary of the Revolution in 1789 and from documents sent in by users. He says:
'A lot of these guillotined were never registered in official records. I'm adding names all the time. But I don't put anyone down unless they are accompanied by documentary evidence.'
Nor has he included the tens of thousands of people massacred during the Revolution.
'It was an important part of out history. But I'm not sure all that violence really served a purpose.'
Quite.