Assassinations have been carried out since ancient times and their consequences have heavily impacted history. To further shed light on this, we have compiled a list of the most famous assassinations that changed the course of history.
Let us take a look at The 10 Most Famous Assassinations That Changed The Course Of History.
1) Conrad of Montferrat
Conrad of Montferrat was essentially the de facto ruler of Jerusalem and one of the major participants of the Third Crusade. However, he was officially crowned king in 1192. At the same time, he was involved in a struggle with Richard I of England over the kingship of the throne of Jerusalem. As fate would have it, just when Conrad was elected as king, four days later he was brutally assassinated.
When the king was returning home after a meal at his friend’s house, he was accosted by two individuals. They stabbed him at least twice and Conrad died on the scene. The assassination is said to have been carried out by the famous assassins of the medieval era, the Hashishin. They were a Nizari Shia sect, who supposedly geared themselves up for murder with copious amounts of hashish. Interestingly, the word assassin is derived from the cult’s name-Hashishin. Although the true culprit was never identified, it is rumoured that Richard I was involved in the plot.
2) John F. Kennedy- One of the most famous assassinations in American history
Undoubtedly one of the most famous assassinations in American history was that of John F. Kennedy. The infamous incident occurred when the then U.S. president was riding in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza. He was fatally shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. What fuels conspiracy is that Oswald claimed that he had been framed for the crime. However, this was never proven as Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby before he could be tried on November 24, 1963. Ultimately, Oswald took his secrets to the grave.
3) Malcolm X
Minister Malcolm X is an important and celebrated figure in the African-American community. During his discourses, he advocated Black self-defence, Black supremacy and Black racial pride. Additionally, he preached to educate the Blacks on issues such as white aggression.
Malcolm X was also a vocal spokesman of the Nation of Islam, however, in the 1960s he began to dissociate with the organisation. He subsequently renounced it and this got him in trouble with the organisation. Throughout 1964, he began receiving numerous death threats. In 1965, he was assassinated in New York City by the members of the Nation of Islam. However, the organisation itself denied any involvement.
4) Thomas Becket- An accidental famous assassination
This famous assassination took place by accident. Yes, you read that right! Thomas Becket was essentially the archbishop of Canterbury during the 12th century. He was a very talented man and his talents got him recognised by King Henry II. The king subsequently made him his chancellor and the two became fast friends. However, Becket and Henry got into a disagreement and this put their friendship under strain.
One day in particular King Henry II was exasperated and remarked that “someone should get rid of Thomas Becket”. At the time, four of the king’s knights were present in the room. The knights mistook this statement as a command and set out to confront the archbishop. They subsequently assassinated him in Canterbury Cathedral. Talk about a case of terrible miscommunication!
5) Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi a.k.a “Mahatma Gandhi” or the “Father of the Nation” is a highly influential and celebrated man in India. He was a very powerful leader during the Indian independence movement. Additionally, he was famed for his notion of achieving independence through non-violence. In August 1947, India split into two separate nations, India and Pakistan.
Although initially, Gandhi was in support of this, the subsequent brutal violence changed his views. He then undertook a fast to showcase his disfavour for the rampant violence. However, this action was seen in a bad light by Hindu extremists-including Nathuram Vinayak Godse. Godse went on to assassinate Gandhi on January 30, 1948.
6) Abraham Lincoln
The United States’ 16th president Abraham Lincoln brought in many political changes. The most important being the abolishment of slavery, the preservation of the Union and the support of democracy.
At the time of Lincoln’s presidency, America was in the middle of a major civil war. The civil war was essentially fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. Ultimately, the United States were victorious. However, not all were pleased with this outcome.
One such Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, decided to exact revenge on Lincoln. He then went on to assassinate Lincoln on the evening of April 14, 1865. Due to its political implications, Lincoln’s assassination goes down as one of the most famous assassinations in American history.
7) Archduke Franz Ferdinand- A famous assassination that started World War I
Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination was essentially one of the main reasons for World War I. At the time, Ferdinand was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. During that time, many people in the Balkans were displeased by Austria’s annexation of Bosnia in 1908. Due to this, many Bosnian-born Serbs created nationalist groups. Gavrilo Princip, the archduke’s assassin belonged to one such group.
On that fateful day, Ferdinand had travelled to Sarajevo in order to inspect his troops there. And just by chance, Princip spotted him. Seizing this opportunity Princip fatally shot the archduke. This famous assassination set a chain of events that would culminate in World War I.
8) Julius Caesar- One of the most famous assassinations in Roman history
Julius Caesar‘s assassination is regarded as one of the most famous assassinations in Roman history. Caesar’s close friend, Marcus Brutus was displeased by his growing ambitions. Additionally, Brutus was getting heavily influenced by other Senators who thought the same. Hence he and the Senate devised a plot to dispose of Caesar. They subsequently assassinated him at the Theatre of Pompey.
9) Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was one the most prominent civil rights leaders. He was the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)— an organisation subsequently headed by his son Martin Luther King III. He was known for combating racial injustice through non-violence. And for this ideology, King won the Nobel Peace Prize.
On March 29, 1968, King was in Memphis, Tennessee in order to showcase support for the black sanitary public works employees. However, he was fatally shot by James Earl Ray, who subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. This incident, however, shook the African-American community who in retaliation committed numerous riots and arson. Additionally, it put a further divide between the blacks and the whites.
10) Isoroku Yamamoto- A famous assassination that took place during World War II
Isoroku Yamamoto was the commander of the Japanese Imperial Navy. He was also essentially the man who plotted and executed the infamous attack on Pearl Harbour during World War II. And for this sneak attack, the Americans sought revenge. In an operation aptly code-named “Vengeance”, they attempted to do just that. The U.S. codebreakers started tracking every move of the commander. And on April 18, 1943, they learned, that he would fly from Rabaul to Balalae Airfield after addressing the Japanese pilots stationed there.
Seizing this golden opportunity, the U.S. assigned eighteen P-38s to commit the aerial assassination. After an air engagement, the American bomber planes got lucky and hit the starboard engine of Yamamoto’s bomber. The Admiral’s plane consequently crashed into the jungle below. After thoroughly searching, the Japanese found him inside the crashed plane- his body littered with fatal gunshot wounds. Yamamoto’s assassination significantly lowered Japanese spirits while raising the morale of the Allied forces.