Political Assassinations: the Big Ones

I thought just for fun I'd do a list of the political assassinations that had the biggest consequences for the world. So here we go:

Gaius Julius Caesar

Hard to go past this one for the top spot.

Caesar's death led to the official end of the Roman Republic and the rise of the first Roman Emperor, Octavian Augustus, who just happened to be Caesar's nephew and heir.

I think we can reasonably say the Roman Empire was kind of a big consequence.



The Archduke Franz Ferdinand

A man defined by his death.

The otherwise forgettable Archduke managed to get himself killed by Serbian anarchists.  Which he largely did by ignoring not only a lot of serious warnings, but also a previous attempt on his life on the very same day.

Unfortunately, since he was heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, his demise kicked off a war which in turn started a domino effect of treaties that ended with World War One.

So that's about 38 million casualties right there that this assassination caused, plus the near destruction of Europe.


Philip II of Macedon

He was the father of Alexander the Great. 

Philip was assassinated when Alexander was only twenty years old.  Alexander spent the next thirteen years conquering the entire known world, and then himself died.

The world would be a very different place if Alexander had spent those thirteen years as his father's lieutenant.

You might argue that Alexander would have gone on to conquer the world after he inherited the kingdom anyway, but Philip was only 46 when he died. He might have lasted another twenty or thirty years. Which would have left Alexander inheriting at age 40 or 50. 

So Philip's death at just that moment changed the world a lot.



You've probably never heard of him, unless you've read my first murder mystery, which is about the death of this fellow.  

Ephialtes created the first true democracy at ancient Athens, which in turn invented the whole idea of Western democracy. Not a small thing.  

Ephialtes was promptly assassinated for his troubles, and here comes the part that makes his killing so significant:

Ephialtes had a lieutenant, a rather likely lad by the name of Pericles.  

Pericles took the top job when his friend died, and that was the start of the peak of classical civilization that we call the Age of Pericles.  




Charlemagne had a younger brother, which was very inconvenient because by the rules of inheritance at the time they were required to split their father's kingdom.  

Charlemagne was particularly put out. He had plans to conquer Europe &/etc, and an uncooperative little brother was going to be a drag.  

Then Carloman mysteriously died, still a young man, in circumstances that were never explained, and no cause of death was ever given.

It was very convenient for Charlemagne though. He promptly conquered Europe and founded the Holy Roman Empire.

Which probably would never have happened if Carloman had hung around. Charlemagne was never actually accused of arranging the assassination of his little brother, however this must be tempered by the observation firstly that Charlemagne was incredibly good at planning things, and secondly that only a crazy person would accuse the Holy Roman Emperor of murder.



Do feel free to add your favourite assassinations in comments.  Somehow I have a feeling people will have their own lists.

Archaeological Detectives: an Emma Fielding Mystery, on TV

One of my colleagues in crime is Dana Cameron.  Dana is a for-real professional archaeologist, but in her odd spare moments she also writes murder mysteries and supernaturals.  

Almost inevitably one of her detectives is an archaeologist, called Emma Fielding, whose first adventure is called Site Unseen.

Site Unseen has been picked up and made into a movie for television!

Site Unseen is coming out from Hallmark in only a few days.  If you want to see an archaeological detective written by someone who actually knows archaeology, this is your big chance.  

Dana by the way has the most amazing New England accent, which people outside the US don't typically hear.  She should totally be doing podcasts.

Dana Cameron

Dana Cameron

The detectives, as viewed if you happen to be the victim.

The detectives, as viewed if you happen to be the victim.

Worst treatment of a politician, ever

I'm going to avoid the toxic cesspit that is US politics, but I thought I'd comment on a recent assertion by Donald Trump that, "No politician in history ... has been treated worse or more unfairly."

Well he'd have some stiff competition on that.  It set me to thinking about which politician in history did get the worst treatment. 

King Aelle from Vikings.jpg

Back in the ninth century in the city of York, King Aelle of Northumbria had the skin of his back sliced down the middle; then they tore away the skin to expose his spine and entire back — all while he was still alive, mind you — then they used an axe to cut away his ribs from his backbone.  The pressure on the cut ribs caused them to splay outwards away from the backbone, which must have been agonizing.  This completely exposed all his internal organs.  Then they put their hands into his body and pulled out his lungs.  All this while he was still alive.  But in this position, Aelle died.

This is called the blood eagle, because when it's over there's blood everywhere and the victim with his lungs lying beside him looks like an eagle with wings spread.

King Aelle is one of only two or three people in documented history to have had this happen to them.   The other two were Viking princes, and the people who did this to Aelle were the sons of the Viking Ragnar Lothbrok.

It must be said that Aelle had previously thrown Ragnar into a pit of snakes. So there was not a lot of love lost on either side.  On the other hand, having your lungs torn out through your back pretty much outranks anything that's happened to Donald Trump.

There is a superb TV series called Vikings, in which this unfortunate episode is portrayed.  Don't watch this unless you have a strong stomach.  

There are other candidates for worst treatment of a politician.  I'd be interested to hear your nominations.