The Reign of Terror destroyed thousands of lives, but in the scientific community, Antoine Lavoisier's death was arguably the most devastating. Known for revolutionizing chemistry and conducting groundbreaking experiments during the Enlightenment, Lavoisier's aristocratic status eventually condemned him. Lavoisier and his wife, Marie-Anne, worked together as the father and mother of modern chemistry, designing and carrying out experiments. Together, they built an international reputation.
Like most 18th-century scientists, the Lavoisiers were aristocrats. But unlike aristocrats ridiculed for their extravagant tastes, the Lavoisiers spent their money on things like diamonds for scientific experiments. Antoine also revolutionized French gunpowder, helping his country win wars. But during the bloodiest days of the French Revolution, high status meant the opposite of protection.
When the guillotine took off Antoine's head, a famous mathematician declared, "It took them only an instant to cut off that head, and a hundred years may not produce another like it."