Saturday, 23 November 2013

Et tu ...? - Sepia Saturday

The prompt this week shows Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife leaving the town hall in Sarajevo eight minutes before he was assassinated on 26 June 1914.


This week people are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy of the USA. Unfortunately I cannot recall where I was or what I was doing on that day. My wife says she was feeding our month-old son.

I have chosen therefore to look at other assassinations and assassination attempts from history starting with:

Death of Caesar, 15 March 44 BC
(Oil on canvas - Jean-Léon Gér
ôme - Walters Art Museum, Baltimore)
The painting depicts the aftermath of the incident where Caesar is stabbed to death, with Brutus striking the final blow - immortalised by Shakespeare's "Et tu, Brute." 

Shortly after Shakespeare has Cassius encouraging people to proclaim, "Liberty, freedom and enfranchisement."

That seems to me to be a natural link to the cry arising during the French Revolution - "Liberté, egalité, fraternité" - and the republican assassinated in his bath by a 24 year-old gentlewoman.

Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat by Charlotte Corday,
13 July, 1793
(Painting by Jean=Joseph Weerts)
Charlotte did not attempt to escape and lost her head to the guillotine. [You may read about her here ]

On 18 May 1912 John Bellingham lost his life at the end of a rope. Convicted by a jury who took only ten minutes to find him guilty just 4 days after the bankrupt and embittered business man had become an assassin.

Assassination of Spencer Perceval the British Prime Minister by John Bellingham at the Palace of Westminster in 1812
Edward Oxford was more fortunate; his assassination attempt failed.

Edward Oxford shoots at Queen Victoria - June 18, 1840
This water colour painting by G H Miles, now in the British Museum, shows the Queen and the Prince Consort driving in a phaeton towards Constitution Hill; a policeman runs towards Oxford as he fires.

Oxford, a discharged barman, was treated as a madman and confined in Bedlam, before eventually being sent to Broadmoor. Released on his promise to go to Australia,  he was reported to be working there as a house painter as late as 1882.

By that time two American Presidents had been killed by bullets from assassins. Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in 1865 and James A Garfield by Charles J Guiteau in 1881

Engraving of Garfield's assassination (July 2, 1881)
The caption to the picture of the engraving, published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, reads:

Scene in the ladies room of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Depot - the arrest of the assassin. - ... - The assassin Charles Guiteau is being restrained by members of the crowd.

Guiteau, a preacher, writer and lawyer, was convicted and hanged.

I looked for videos to back up this post and came across the Stephen Sondheim musical "Assassins" which included actors representing Booth, Guiteau, Leon Czolgosz (killer of President McKinley) and Lee Harvey Oswald.

That brings us back to Kennedy again and enough exposure of assassins in an age when states can kill by remotely controlled drones.

For hopefully less morbid memories cross over to Sepia-Saturday-204.

15 comments:

Bel said...

Very interesting Bob! I didn't know about some of those assassination attempts, so I learnt something today.

Jo said...

I've never quite understood the line between murder and assassination - if I kill my husband it's murder, if I kill the Queen it's assassination.

Great pixs again Bob. Especially the paintings. I hadn't realised Charlotte Corday was guillotined. Odd because it was always one of my favourite stories of the revolution. Stuck in my mind somehow.

Jo Featherston said...

Interesting. I guess sending undesirables to Australia was a long- standing British tradition,. I see that a book was recently written about The double life of Edward Oxford : http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/from-wouldbe-royal-assassin-to-pillar-of-society-20121218-2bl89.html

Jo Featherston said...

Very interesting post on those other assassinations and attempts. Typical of British to continue the tradition of sending undesriables to Australia! I see that someone here has written a book about the life of Edward Oxford, and is in fact doing her PHD on him. A Walking Shadow: The Remarkable Double Life of Edward Oxford by Jenny Sinclair, $20, Arcade Publications.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/from-wouldbe-royal-assassin-to-pillar-of-society-20121218-2bl89.html#ixzz2lVMfrk99

Karen S. said...

Amazing information and photos, on such a sad thing as assassinations, it was interesting to read.

Mike Brubaker said...

A different counter spin on the theme, Bob. I've recently read two books on this subject that I highly recommend. The first is on President Garfield's assassination attempt - his death came from the bumbling doctors that mishandled his wound. It's titled "Destiny of the Republic:" by Candice Millard

The second book is on the many attempts on Queen Victoria's life - "Shooting Victoria" by Paul Thomas Murphy. Both authors describe how these deranged attacks were as shocking and disturbing in their time as Kennedy's death was in ours.

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

Great post!

Bob Scotney said...

Thanks to Jo Featherstone and Mike for the book references. I shall be checking up on them.
As I found out while doing this there were as many as 8 attempts to kill Victoria - I could have done the whole post about her.

ScotSue said...

A wonderful set of images and I liked the different "take " you followed on this week's theme.

Postcardy said...

We are probably just lucky that Kennedy was the last American president assassinated.

Gail Perlee said...

I had no idea there was a musical about assassins! Good grief, as Charlie Brown would say. I thought "Sweeney Todd" was bad enough. I do, however, recall singing "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" with a choral group a few years ago. Quite the challenge, & fun.

Gail Perlee said...

I had no idea there was a musical about assassins! "Good grief" as Charlie Brown would say. I thought "Sweeney Todd" was bad enough - though I did have fun singing "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" with a choral group. A real challenge, that.

Jackie van Bergen said...

As you had a one month old son, I'm not surprised you don't remember the Kennedy assassination!

Wendy said...

I was not familiar with a few of these assassinations.

anyjazz said...

You covered the subject well. I liked that you found illustrations for all those events.