A Brief History
On September 10, 1898, Empress Elisabeth of Austria was stabbed in the chest by assassin Luigi Lucheni. Just as men have been targeted over the years, women have also found themselves at the receiving end of an assassin’s bullet, sword or poison. Here 10 women are listed who were famous or powerful enough that someone wanted to get rid of them for political reasons or personal convictions.
10. Diana, Princess of Wales, 1997.
Killed in a car wreck while supposedly trying to shake off paparazzi, rumors and conspiracy theories that Diana and her boyfriend (Dodi Fayed) were actually assassinated, probably by the British royal family, just will not go away. This theory was thoroughly investigated by the British, and you guessed it, found to be without merit. Many people still insist she was assassinated, and she herself said she would die following a crash in a car that had been manipulated.
9. Rosa Luxemburg, 1919.
Of Polish-Jewish descent, Rosa was a Marxist writer and socialist revolutionary who was also a naturalized German citizen. The co-founder of the Communist Party in Germany, she was captured and shot (murdered) by government agents during the failed Spartacist Uprising that she had only reluctantly supported. Her body was thrown in the Landwehr Canal.
8. Isabel Carrasco, 2014.
The governor of Leon Province in Spain, Carrasco was shot to death while walking home from a party. The perpetrators were an irate mother and her daughter who had recently been fired from the provincial council. Coincidentally, the husband and father of the assassins was a police chief. When you take a look at the date, you can see that political assassinations still happen.
7. Czarina Alexandra, 1918.
Alexandra, the last Czarina of Russia and wife of Nicholas II, the last Czar, was shot to death with her entire family by a firing squad of communists during the Russian Revolution. Her daughters did not die right away because the bullets kept bouncing off their clothes that had been stuffed with jewels.
6. Aurora Quezon, 1949.
The former first lady of the Philippines, Quezon and her daughter were killed when 100 to 200 insurgents machine gunned her vehicle that was leading a caravan of military vehicles meant to protect her. Despite warnings, popular Quezon did not believe she would be assassinated .
5. Benazir Bhutto, 2007.
The only female prime minister in Pakistan’s history, while campaigning for election, Bhutto was assassinated by Islamic militants while she was leaving a political rally in a limo that had an open sunroof through which she was waving to the crowd.
4. Queen Aiswary of Nepal, 2001.
The King, Queen and 7 other members of the royal family of Nepal were killed by their son Prince Dipendra after rebuking him for drunkenness at a party.
3. Indira Gandhi, 1984.
The Prime Minister of India and member of the Nehru-Gandhi political family (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi), she was killed by her own bodyguards while in her own garden. She was shot with 3 rounds from a pistol and 30 rounds from a sub-machine gun. Her son Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister upon her death, and was later assassinated himself in 1991.
2. Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, 1914.
Sophie was the Bohemian (Czech) wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The married couple was killed by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, while visiting Sarajevo in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina. After a grenade-throwing conspirator had failed to kill the Archduke, by a matter of chance, Princip just happened to be where the Archduke and Sophie were turning around after a wrong turn. He took the opportunity and shot both Franz Ferdinand in the neck and Sophie in the abdomen. This assassination was the event that triggered World War I, one of the greatest disasters in history.
1. Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary, 1898.
She was a Bavarian princess who was married off to Emperor Franz Joseph I of the Austro-Hungarian Empire while only 16. At age 60, she was attacked and stabbed to death by Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni while she was taking a stroll through the city of Geneva. Lucheni had no agenda other than wanting to kill someone who was royal, and Elisabeth simply happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Question for students (and subscribers): Who would you add to the list? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
For another interesting event that happened on September 10, please see the History and Headlines article: “There is Such a Thing as Friendly Fire!“
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Newton, Michael. Famous Assassinations in World History [2 volumes]: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2014.