FRANCE: The Heirs of the Widow

Like the Bourbons themselves, the heirs of Charles Sanson were long a potent and continuing force in the affairs of France. Their dynasty outlived that of their royal protectors. In time it too was scattered. But, like the government of France itself, the Sansons' high office and its traditions still persisted, for Charles Sanson was the chief executioner of France.

Charles's work was rough. He had only a big broadax to work with, and often, when his clients lacked the grace to hold still, his mighty swings resulted in bloody mutilation only. Charles would seize his sword then, and stab...

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