On 5 January 1757, as the king was entering his carriage, Damiens rushed forward and stabbed him with a knife, inflicting a slight wound. He made no attempt to escape, and was immediately arrested. He was then tortured at length, condemned as a regicide, and sentenced to be drawn and quartered by horses. He was the last person in France to be executed in this manner.
He was tortured first with red-hot pincers; his hand was burned with sulphur, and molten wax, lead, and boiling oil were poured into his wounds. He then had his arms and legs harnessed to horses, to be torn apart. When he failed to break in a satisfactory manner, his joints were cut with an axe. His torso was then burnt at the stake. Apparently the whole spectacle lasted four hours.