HISTORY MEME(1/5) assassinations: Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1898)

In 1898, despite warnings of possible assassination attempts, the sixty-year-old Elisabeth travelled incognito to Geneva, Switzerland. She stayed at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage, where she had been a guest the year before. At 1:35 p.m. on Saturday, 10 September 1898, Elisabeth and Countess Irma Sztáray de Sztára et Nagymihály, her lady in waiting, left the hotel on the shore of Lake Geneva on foot to catch the steamship Genève for Montreux. They were walking along the promenade when the 25-year-old Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni approached them, attempting to peer underneath the empress’s parasol. According to Sztaray, as the ship’s bell announced the departure, Lucheni seemed to stumble and made a movement with his hand as if he wanted to maintain his balance. In reality, in an act of “propaganda of the deed”, he had stabbed Elisabeth with a sharpened needle file that was 4 inches (100 mm) long that he had inserted into a wooden handle. A former mason, railway laborer and former valet to the Prince of Aragon, Lucheni originally planned to kill the Duke of Orléans, but the Pretender to France’s throne had left Geneva earlier for the Valais. Failing to find him, the assassin selected Elisabeth when a Geneva newspaper revealed that the elegant woman traveling under the pseudonym of “Countess of Hohenembs” was the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. After Lucheni struck her, the empress collapsed. [read more]

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