French destinies Brittany

This Breton woman was "THE" executioner of Lyon because she pretended to be a man: amazing Marguerite Le Paistour

There are astonishing destinies like that of Marguerite Le Paistour. A life out of the ordinary for the one who, a little by chance, became the first woman "executioner" in history. An unusual life to discover here ...


Let us meet there on a road of France

1749. Not far from Lyon. It was hot for Marguerite Le Paistour. She could have been sentenced to death.  Born 29 years earlier in Cancale in Brittany, Marguerite should never have become "Monsieur de Lyon", in other words, the official executioner of the city of Lyon. We have never seen a woman executioner officially, even if it happened that madame helped monsieur, we spoke then of "la bourelle". So why was Marguerite Le Paistour? 


A life that begins in Brittany

Une pecheuse d'huitre tel qu'on en voyait à l'époque de Marguerite Le Paistour à Cancale / image Archives d'Ille et Vilaine.

After a happy childhood, everything changed when her father remarried after the death of her mother. Marguerite became Cinderella, persecuted by her stepmother. She ran away. A little flat, or rather not necessarily endowed with a prominent chest, Marguerite thought that dressing as a boy was easier to walk and would avoid many worries on the roads not at all safe in this eighteenth century especially for girls. From village to village, she was hired as a boy by a priest for 5 years, and even by the army. Marguerite became Henri.


And an encounter that changes everything

A deserter, she meets the executioner of Strasbourg and sympathizes so much that, still disguised as a man, she is hired. Gifted, she joined the executioner of Montpellier who made her his first valet and said to her "Henri they don't have an executioner in Lyon, you should apply". No sooner said than done, she worked for 27 months. She hanged, she "wheeled" by breaking the limbs of the condemned with an iron bar, she tortured if necessary... A good job for the judges of Lyon who were happy with the recruitment until Marguerite's maid told them that Henri was Marguerite. 

"Monsieur de Paris" bourreau de Paris tranche la tête de Léonora Caligaï ancienne favorite de Marie de Medicis. 

"Monsieur de Paris" executioner of Paris cuts the head of Léonora Caligaï, former favorite of Marie de Medicis. 


Denounced, she must put an end to her "career".

The servant spied on her boss, with whom she fell in love. And one evening, observing Henri making his toilet, she noticed that nothing was out of place. Denounced, Marguerite is arrested. She ends up confessing that she is not a man. Imprisoned for 10 months, she catches the eye of Noel Roche who marries her, which earns her freedom since a convict could be saved if she was married immediately. The young couple was on the road to Cancale when we left. They settled there and had a daughter. Back home in Brittany, Marguerite Le Paistour never executed anyone again. To our knowledge! 

une femme bourreau vue par  Victoria Model de Pixabay

Sorry for the translation errors. Our translator told us I lost my head... Unless Marguerite has returned? OH no!

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme is "monsieur de France" the author of this site. 

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme is "monsieur de France" the author of this site.