The square was used for high-profile executions for many centuries. The poisoner La Voisin was burned at the stake at the Place de Grève in 1680, and the would-be assassin of Louis XV, Robert-François Damiens, was drawn and quartered there in 1757.
During the French Revolution, it was also used for hangings. At the instigation of Camille Desmoulins, aristocrats were hanged from lantern posts, the most famous of which stood at the Place de Grève, and was used to hang the hated finance intendant Joseph Foullon de Doué in 1789. Around the same time, the son of the Duchesse de Fremiet was also hanged there.