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Sunday, 18 September 2011


At Acre during the Ninth Crusade, England’s Prince Edward (later King Edward I) was struck with a poisoned dagger by an “Assassin”, a member of  a Muslim sect that murders leaders to further its political ends. His wife Eleanor of Castile, who was accompanying him devotedly, cared for the king and saved his life. The Arabic word "assassin" was introduced into the English language through this incident.

The first assassination of a head of a state with a handgun took place in 1584 when Prince William the Silent, the German-born leader of the Protestant states of Holland was murdered during their conflict with the Catholic Spain of the Habsburgs. Gerard Balthasar, a French devotee of the Spanish King Phillip II, killed him in his own home with a wheel-lock pistol.

Shakespeare invented the word “assassination.”

After the assassination of  Prince William the Silent security was tightened everywhere, and it was generally assumed that the next Spanish target must be Queen Elizabeth. Shooting of any kind was banned within two miles of the Queen’s residence, and it was recommended that at seaports every man entering the country should be searched for incriminating evidence, down to the soles of his shoes.

James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, regent for the infant King James VI of Scotland was assassinated in Linlithgow on January 23, 1570. He was killed by James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, a supporter of his legitimate half-sister, Mary, Queen of Scots. As Moray was passing in a cavalcade in the main street below, Hamilton fatally wounded him with a carbine shot from a window of his uncle Archbishop Hamilton's house. It was the first recorded assassination by a firearm.

Assassination of the Regent Moray. Victorian stained glass window in St. Giles Kirk, Edinburgh.. Photy by Kim Traynor

The first, and to date only, British Prime Minister to be assassinated was Spencer Perceval. On the evening of May 11, 1812, Perceval entered the lobby of the House of Commons, when a Liverpool merchant with a grievance against the government, John Bellingham, stepped forward, drew a pistol and shot him in the chest.

Bellingham was tried and convicted, and on 18th May was hanged at Newgate Prison. Despite initial fears that the assassination might be linked to a general uprising, Bellingham had in fact acted alone, as a protest against the government's failure to compensate him for his imprisonment in Russia for a trading debt.

A painting depicting the assassination of Perceval. 
In 1835, Andrew Jackson became the first president to experience an assassination attempt. He beat up his attacker with a walking cane.

The first sitting member of Congress to be assassinated was Arkansas Congressman James M. Hinds, who was shot to death by a Ku Klax Klansmann in 1868. Despite identifying his killer by name before his death the assassin was never arrested or charged with a crime.

Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin of former U.S. President James A. Garfield, specifically chose to use a revolver with an ivory handle because he wanted it to look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination.

In 1932 a group of Japanese assassins called “The League of Blood” targeted twenty high ranking politicians and businessmen but succeeded only in killing two.

"The Avengers" was also the name of a Jewish team of assassins that used to kill Nazi war criminals after WWII.

Bill Foley's photograph The Last Smile shows Anwar Sadat only moments before his assassination.

Before the assassination of President Kennedy, it was not a Federal offense to kill the President or Vice President of the United States.

Seven of the eight US Presidents who have died in office either through illness or assassination were elected at precisely 20-year intervals.

President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Robert F. Kennedy (who had just announced a presidential bid) were all assassinated within less than five years of each other.

The spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated is now a cat sanctuary for 250 cats.

A father once hired a bunch of assassins to kill his son's online World of Warcraft character because he was spending too much time on it.

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