Blogs > Cliopatria > Thus Always to Tyrants?

Nov 14, 2005 10:52 am

Thus Always to Tyrants?

I'm just catching up on some of the Guy Fawkes commemorative TV from last week. The BBC's Timewatch had an interesting programme devoted to the Gunpowder Plot, which argued that even if the conspirators had been successful in killing James I and the English political elite then the only likely result would have been a wave of anti-Catholic pogroms across the country - that England would have emerged from the chaos a more, rather than less, Protestant country than it already was. Which made we wonder: has there ever been a political assassination which worked, in the sense that it accomplished the long-term goals of the killers? (I'm obviously not counting a 'successful' assassination as one in which the target merely dies. Also, I'm talking specifically about the violent and sudden doing-away-with of the head of government, rather than terroristic attacks in general).

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David Nicholas Harley - 11/14/2005

The death of Henri IV made France a significantly more rigorously Catholic state than it was while he reigned.

Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs - 11/14/2005

Depending on whether 10 years is long enough, and granting considerable oversimplification, the judicial assassination of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1619) accomplished the goals of the Contra-Remonstrant party in The Netherlands. Dissent was widely suppressed, the threat of continued peace was averted, rigid Calvinist theologians arrogated the application of the positive label "orthodox" to their ideas only, etc. etc.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/14/2005

What comes to mind first and foremost are the various "Restoration" coup attempts in Japan in the 1930s, mostly at the hands of relatively young highly nationalistic and militaristic officers. These plots never succeeded in overthrowing the government, as such, but they did contribute considerably to the sense that civilian leaders needed to go along with military priorities or risk facing the wrath of radicals within the armed forces. This was particularly important in determining China policy, which of course led to Pacific policy...

Andre Mayer - 11/14/2005

The problem with this question, it seems to me, is the "long term goals" criterion -- assassination isn't, after all, a long term strategy, whatever the ultimate program behind it. It's at least arguable that the Rabin assaassination has "worked" so far, but of course that's not long enough.