Dramatic Assassination Plots from History and Their Outcomes
Dramatic Assassination Plots from History and Their Outcomes

Dramatic Assassination Plots from History and Their Outcomes

Khalid Elhassan - October 29, 2020

Dramatic Assassination Plots from History and Their Outcomes
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. Wikimedia

2. Serbia’s Black Hand Pulled Off History’s Most Impactful Assassination

The Serbian Black Hand’s assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914, was the culmination of a comedy of errors entailing various failed attempts. The parade of follies included a terrorist who threw a bomb that didn’t kill its target, then attempted suicide by swallowing expired cyanide, and tried drowning himself in a river that was only inches deep. One of the terrorists, Gavrilo Princip, gave up and went to grab a bite at a cafe. To his astonishment, the Archduke’s convertible, whose chauffeur had taken a wrong turn, suddenly came to a stop just a few feet away.

Dramatic Assassination Plots from History and Their Outcomes
The arrest of Gavrilo Princip after his shooting of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. BBC

As the driver attempted to reverse, Princep stepped up to the open vehicle and fired two shots, killing Franz Ferdinand and his wife. A Rube Goldberg chain of events ensued, leading to a global conflagration. Austria declared war on Serbia. That dragged in Russia, Serbia’s protector. That in turn dragged in Germany, Austria’s ally. That brought in France, Russia’s ally against Germany. That prompted Germany to invade France via Belgium. German violation of Belgian territory brought in Britain, a guarantor of Belgian sovereignty.

Dramatic Assassination Plots from History and Their Outcomes
Empty artillery casings after a WWI bombardment. Future Learn

1. Assassination Leads to the Deaths of Millions

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand led to a war in which over 70 million men were mobilized, and 10 million were killed. Four empires vanished, and the global center of power shifted from the Old World to the New. An age of aristocracy and traditional forms of government came to an end, and a fervent and fast-paced era of democracies, juxtaposed with radical ideologies and totalitarianism, took its place.

Dramatic Assassination Plots from History and Their Outcomes
A British WWI cemetery in France. 14 – 18 Now

Serbia suffered greatly for its sponsorship of terrorism. It stood off an initial Austrian attack, but was overrun in 1915. A fifth of Serbia’s population perished during the war – the highest percentage suffered during the conflict. Serbia’s government finally had enough of the Black Hand, which had grown too powerful and too meddlesome. In 1917, its leaders were arrested and tried on trumped-up charges for conspiracy to murder the Prince Regent. They were convicted, sentenced to death, and executed, and the group was outlawed.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Ancient History Encyclopedia – Philip II of Macedon

Casius Dio – Roman History, Book LXVIII

Cracked – 5 Amazing Things People Managed Right After Being Left for Dead

Encyclopedia Britannica – 9 Infamous Assassins and the World Leaders they Dispatched

Encyclopedia Britannica – Johan de Witt, Dutch Statesman

History Collection – Secret Societies and the Occult Were More Prevalent During World War I

Gonick, Larry – Cartoon History of the Universe: From the Big Bang to Alexander the Great (1990)

Hastings, Max – Catastrophe, 1914: Europe Goes to War (2014)

History Net – The Assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem

Holland, Tom – Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic (2003)

Knight, Ian, and McBride, Angus – The Zulus (1989)

History Collection – Important Historical Figures Who Survived Assassination Attempts

Laband, John – The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation (1997)

Live Journal – Andrew Jackson, Man of Honor

National Archives Pieces of History – The Plot to Kill President Truman

New York Times, June 28th, 2016 – Franz Ferdinand, Whose Assassination Sparked a World War

Spectator, The, December 18th, 2012 – An Assassination at Christmas

History Collection – Dramatic and Impactful Assassinations from History

Suetonius – The Twelve Caesars

Tacitus – Histories

ThoughtCo – The Black Hand: Serbian Terrorists Spark WWI

History Collection – 20th Century’s 5 Most Significant Political Assassinations

Wikipedia – Assassination of Ali

Wikipedia – Attempted Assassination of Harry S. Truman

Wikipedia – Richard Lawrence (Failed Assassin)

History Collection – 7 Assassins Behind Failed Presidential Murder Attempts You May Not Heard Of