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Luigi Lucheni
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Assassin
    (April 22, 1873-October 19, 1910)
    Born in Paris, France
    Italian anarchist
    Resided in Geneva, Switzerland
    Assassinated the Empress Elisabeth of Austria by stabbing her with a needle file (September 10, 1898)
    Sentenced to life in prison by the Canton of Geneva
    Committed suicide twelve years into his sentence; found in his cell hanging by a belt
    He believed in 'propaganda of the deed.'
    His actions revived widespread hysteria against Southern Italians within Austria-Hungary.
    He originally planned to kill Philippe the Duke of Orleans, but the Duke's change in itinerary resulted in his targeting Elisabeth instead.
    He killed the Empress by body slamming her as she was boarding a Montreux-bound ship, penetrating her chest with a sharpened needle file.
    That she was fatally injured wasn't immediately obvious, and she boarded the ship without further incident.
    When the injury's seriousness became clear, the ship reversed course and the Empress was carted back to the hotel on a stretcher but was pronounced dead on arrival.
    He turned on the heel and ran like a bitch after attacking the Empress, disposing of the needle in an alley. He was caught by two cabdrivers and a sailor.
    He was defiant and glib in custody, openly requesting to be tried in Lucerne, where the death penalty was still retained (he was intent on attaining the martyrdom similar to Franz Josef's failed assassin almost fifty years prior).
    After his arrest he stated he would have preferred to assassinate King Umberto of Italy, but lacked the 50 francs necessary to make the trip to Rome.
    His act was not even well received among his fellow Anarchists, some pointing to the Empress' benevolence and generosity towards the poor and working-class, having even bequeathed her jewels to charity.
    The act was also particularly cowardly given the Empress' known tendency to travel free of the police or a personal guard (in addition to her being a 60 year-old woman unlikely to fight back).
    The Emperor Franz Joseph was never the same after the assassination of his wife, and reportedly told his family 'you'll never know how much I loved this woman' (he would become even more despondent when his nephew was assassinated in 1914, prompting entry into WWI).
    He never met his parents and may have been mentally ill.
    He was born in a Paris foundling hospital and was transferred to a Parma orphanage.
    He was made to fend for himself after being turned out at the age of ten.
    He served in the Italian army, fighting in the First Italo-Ethiopian War.
    There are (debunked) conspiracy theories claiming that he was acting on orders from the Italian government.
    His act led to Rome convening a conference with representatives from the whole of Europe to address the problem of Anarchist terrorism ('The International Conference for the Defense of Society' (1898).
    He was denied martyrdom by the Geneva court and given life imprisonment.
    He committed suicide after the prison guards confiscated his personal memoirs he hoped to publish.
    He figures prominently into Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay's biographical stage musical 'Elisabeth,' first staged in 1992, as the sarcastic and self-pitying 'narrator.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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