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“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” ― Voltaire

Throughout the centuries, there’s been a lot of human bloodshed. For better or worse, assassinations, the killing of a person for political or social reasons, have had a significant impact on our history.

Here are 49 facts about assassinations.


49. Kind of a Lousy Disguise…

In 1771, Gustav III of Sweden reinstated an absolute monarchy and instated himself as a totalitarian leader. In 1792, an angry military officer and two co-conspirators planned to kill him at a masquerade ball. Gustav got word of the assassination attempt, but thought that he was safe since he’d be in disguise. The king was easily spotted due to the star of the Royal Order of Seraphim on his cape and was killed at the ball. The assassins got away, and assumed that their masks would hide their identities. They were caught the next morning, flogged, and decapitated.

Assassinations facts

Gustav III of Sweden (left) and his brothers.

48. Careful who you Criticize!

Theo Van Gogh was a Dutch director and producer of film and television as well as an actor and screenwriter. In 2004, he worked with a Somali-born politician and writer to produce the short film Submission, which criticized the treatment of women in Islam.

The film was the subject of outrage by the Dutch Muslim community. Van Gogh was known for his outspoken opinions, and had been fired by almost every Dutch newspaper and magazine at one time for offending their readers. On Nov 2, 2004, as he cycled to work, Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim, shot him eight times with a handgun.

Assassinations facts

47. Political Aspirations Quashed!

On September 19, 1881, after spending just 200 days in office, President James Garfield was killed, making him America’s second assassinated president. His assassin was an attorney with political ambitions named Charles Guiteau. When his requests for appointment were denied, he vowed revenge. On the morning of July 2, 1881, Garfield was walking through a train station on his way to a short vacation when Guiteau came up behind the president and shot him in the back. 80 days later, Garfield succumbed to his wounds. Gutieau was convicted of murder and hanged on June 30, 1882.

Assassinations facts

Artisitic depiction of Charles Guiteau’s trial.

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46. First Prime Minister of Pakistan

Liaquat Ali Khan was acclaimed as “qaid-i-millet” (leader of the country) and he became Pakistan’s first Prime Minister. His role in the creation of the State of Pakistan won him the respect and admiration of the Muslim Community. On October 16, 1951, Kahn was shot and killed at a meeting of the Muslim City League at Company Gardens in Rawalpindi. The assassin was reportedly angry at Khan’s refusal to go to war with India, but new evidence suggests that the assassination was ordered by the CIA.

Assassinations facts

Liaquat Ali Khan (left).

45. The Bangabandhu

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the founder of the modern state of Bangladesh, and he led the nation to independence from Pakistan. He was the first and fourth President, and second Prime Minister of the country. He wanted to create political and economic stability, and to give the people a sense of identity. His fame and popularity with among the masses earned him fierce dislike from the military, and in 1975, Rahman and members of his family were assassinated in his residence in a military coup d’état.

Assassinations facts

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

44. Hated by Catholics and Protestants

King Henry IV of France was known for signing the Edicts of Nantes, which granted religious freedom to Protestants. He was also notorious for his sexual exploits that earned him the nickname “the gay old spark.” He was considered a usurper by the Catholics and a traitor by Protestants, and he endured multiple assassination attempts. On May 14, 1610, he was stabbed to death by a Catholic fanatic. His body was buried in the Basilica of Saint Denis in Paris, but in a ghastly twist, the head was lost when the Basilica was ransacked in 1793.

Assassinations facts

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