1756: John Symmonds, “Spanish Jack” 1821: Patriarch Gregory V, in his vestments

1892: Louis Anastay, “I wish to mount the scaffold”

April 9th, 2020 Headsman

Louis Anastay was guillotined on this date in 1892.

The young army lieutenant, catching word of a windfall coming to a wealthy benefactress of his named baroness Dellard, assailed and left for dead both the lady and her servant in December 1891. (The servant survived; Dellard did not.) As the accused described it to a courtroom all aghast:

Yes, I entered; — I chatted with her; — and then I struck, –. Ah! you do not know what it is to have struck your fellow creature with a knife. I have always Madame Dellard before my eyes. I have committed a crime; — not only as an officer have I committed faults, but I have committed a crime against society; — I demand to expiate it; — I accept the responsibility; — I wish to mount the scaffold.

Sensational enough in its time that “the scum of Parisians” were jostling for sightlines to the guillotine for full two days before the blade fell, Anastay rates a passing reference in the anarchist Ravachol‘s secret courtroom address among several criminals notorious for their cupidity. (“We will no longer see men like Pranzini, Prado, Berland, Anastay and others who kill in order to have [gold].”)

According to medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris, Anastay invited his brother to attend his beheading and attempt to interact with his severed head as part of the age-old quest to prove that life subsists a few moments after decapitation. There’s no indication that any such experiment actually took place, however.

As a strange coda of compounded tragedy, that very brother, Leon Anastay by name, was himself murdered in a lovers’ quarrel in 1907.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,France,Guillotine,Murder,Pelf,Public Executions,Soldiers

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