1963: Henry John Burnett, Scotland’s last hanging 1571: Marco Antonio Bragadin, flayed Venetian

1894: Sante Geronimo Caserio, anarchist assassin

August 16th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1894, Sante Geronimo Caserio was guillotined in Lyon, where he had assassinated the president of France two months before.

In the day when the terror stalking European order brandished the black flag of anarchy, the Italian immigrant Caserio (his first name can be rendered either Sante or Santo, and his middle name alternately as Jeronimo, Ironimo or Heironymus) escalated the “propaganda of the deed” into the nightmares of Europe’s executives.

Retaliating for the executions of two previous anarchists, August Vaillant and Emile Henry, Caserio (English Wikipedia entry | Italian | French) stepped up to the carriage of Marie Francois Sadi Carnot on the night of June 24-25 and efficiently planted a dagger in his heart.

Before the decade was out, the Prime Minister of Spain, the King of Italy and the Empress of Austria-Hungary would all likewise be murdered by Italian anarchists.

As one might imagine, Caserio played the role of cocksure martyr to the hilt: asked whether he repented, he vowed to kill another president if given a few minutes; he refused to pursue a mental illness defense or inform on comrades; and at the guillotine, he exhorted the onlookers, “Forza, compagni! Viva l’anarchia!” (The New York Times account of the beheading recounts Caserio’s background, from an obviously hostile class position.)

By the time Caserio lost his head, the propaganda of his deed had already provoked mass arrests of Italians, and a tightening of the lois scelerates (“villainous laws”) cracking down on dissidents.

But as always, one person’s evildoer is another’s hero, and Caserio has his online monuments — like this Italian page, or this blog entry, or this rendition of one of the several songs in his honor:

In an artsier vein, one can also follow the thread of the story to Les Bal des Innocents, a downloadable French production billing itself as “The first feature film under Creative Commons Licence.”

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Assassins,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous Last Words,France,Guillotine,History,Murder,Notable for their Victims,Public Executions,Revolutionaries

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 thoughts on “1894: Sante Geronimo Caserio, anarchist assassin”

  1. almustafa says:

    La liberté n’a pas de prix.elle vaut tous les sacrifices

  2. Dwayne C. Ramsey says:

    Anyone who would go out and murder a leader of a country should be put to death. I think Caserio got exactly what he deserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>




Execution Playing Cards

Exclusively available on this site: our one-of-a-kind custom playing card deck.

Every card features a historical execution from England, France, Germany, or Russia!

Recent Comments

  • Sharon: My great grand mother was born in 1869 and was called Mary Ellen Peace, her grandfather was born in 1817 and...
  • Sharo.n: In 1859 Charles married a widower Hannah Ward. Who had a son. Together they had a daughter called Jane
  • Donna Finnegan: Kathleen Jukes. My family are also related to Richard. We are trying to work out where in our...
  • Anthony: Delaware never used a lethal injection machine. While they had bought one in 1987 when they first ordered a...
  • Curt Kastens: You can add Walterr Süskind. According to the German Wikipedia he died in Auschwitz on Feb. 28 1945....