There are some tragic events and incidents that we can never forget and then there are some infamous assassinations that have changed the course of history. Here is a list of infamous assassinations that took place and the stories behind them. These assassinations listed below were well-planned and executed. 

1. Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (106 BC-48 BC)

He was a great military and political leader of the late Roman Republic who was murdered on the orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt who feared offending the victorious Caesar. 

During the civil war, Pompey and Caesar were on different sides of the team when Caesar won the battle. After his loss, Pompey seeked asylum in Egypt. One day, Pompey was waiting at the shore for a welcoming party from the young Egyptian king Ptolemy XIII but he was stabbed to death by his own men Achillas, Septmius and Salvius. When Caesar followed Pompey and reached Egypt, he was presented with Pompey’s severed head but he took it as an insult and had Achillas and Pothinus, who had arranged the assassination, killed.

2. Zhang Fei (168 AD-221 AD)

Zhang Fei was a military general who worked for Lie Bei, a warlord. He was decapitated by his own subordinates.

Zhang Fei, also known as Yide, was a military general who worked for Lie Bei, a warlord. He was one of the key players during the Three Kingdoms period. San Quan was another powerful warlord who later broke his alliance with Liu Bei and took over the Jing province. Zhang Fei was assigned a task to seize back the province but during the campaign he was attacked and beheaded by Fan Qiang and Zhang Da, who were his own subordinates. What Zhang Fei wasn’t aware of, was the fact that  Fan Qiang and Zhang Da were actually Sun Quan’s agents.

3. Julius Caesar (100 BC-44 BC)

Julius Caesar was a Roman politician who was murdered by his own senators.

Julius Caesar’s assassination was the result of a political conspiracy by many Roman senators. The master mind behind his assassination were Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, and Marcus Junius Brutus. After the deaths of Crassus and Pompey (who formed the First Triumvirate with Caesar), Caesar,  declared himself a ‘dictator for life’ but this information caused fear and panic in the minds of the senators who feared that they would lose their power. Caesar was stabbed to death 23 times on the senate floor.

4. Shaka Zulu (1787-1828)

Shaka Zulu was a brave and skillful warrior who was also one of the most influential monarchs from the Zulu kingdom. He was stabbed to death by his own half-brothers.

He was a ruthless and brutal ruler during his reign but things went downhill for him after his mother passed away. To deal with the grief, Zulu passed an order saying that no crops should be planted during the following year, no milk should be used and any woman who was bearing a child was to be killed with her husband. About 7,000 people were executed. Animals were also not spared. Cows were slaughtered so that their calves could feel the pain and grief of what losing a mother felt like. During September 1828, Zulu sent more than half of his troops north on a voyage that left his house without any security. One fine day, he was stabbed to death in his own home by his two half-brothers, Dingane and Mhalangana. After stabbing him, his half-brothers hid his body in a grain pit.

5. Radama II (1829-1863)

Radama was the ruler of the Kingdom of Madagascar who was strangled to death because he almost pushed his kingdom into anarchy. 

Kingdom of Madagascar was ruled by Radama II from 1861 to 1863 but his rule didn’t last long because of a rash decision he made. Radama announced that any public disagreement would have to be solved by a duel to death in his kingdom. He was slowly trying to push his kingdom into anarchy but soon enough the prime minister and his brother realized his intentions so they decided to do away with the monarch. One day, they attacked Radama’s compound, threw the traditional Madagascar garment lamba over his head and then strangled him using a silk sash. However, there are other theories that suggest that Ramadan wasn’t really killed. Some believe that he was simply rendered unconscious.

6. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Abraham Lincoln, the American President was assassinated while watching a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

John Wilkes Booth, was an actor and a Confederate sympathizer who was also Lincoln’s killer. He shot Lincoln while he was watching a play. John Wilkes planned the assassination in such a way that he pulled the trigger when the actor on stage said something funny in the hope that the roaring laughter of the crowd would drown out the gunshot. Lincoln was shot on April 14th, 1865 but he died the next day.

7. Jorg Jenatsch (1596-1639)

Jorg Jenatsch was a Swiss political leader during the Thirty Years’ War who was killed by someone who was in a bear costume.

He was also known as one of the most striking figures in the troubled history of the Grisons in the 17th century. Jorg was labeled a traitor because he was originally a Swiss preacher who turned into a political leader. He made quite a few enemies along the way but that didn’t stop him from organizing a costume party. One of his enemies came to his party in a bear costume carrying an axe and hiding a gun. When Jorg extended his hand to shake hands, the assassin shot him in the gut

8. Inejiro Asanuma  (1898-1960)

Inejiro Asanuma was a Japanese politician and leader of the Japan Socialist Party who was killed by the hands of a 17-year-old on TV.

He was speaking on stage in a televised political debate in Tokyo’s Hibiya Hall where he was assassinated by a 17-year old who was identified as a militant nationalist. He was assassinated with a yoroi-dōshi, a traditional sword on national television. The footage of his violent death still exists online.

9. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Mahatma Gandhi, also known as the father of the nation, was shot in his chest three times by his assassin.

There was a section of people who weren’t really happy with the partition of India and the formation of Pakistan. It is said that Nathuram Godse, the assassin, was a Hindu nationalist who believed that the partition favoured the Muslims. When Gandhi was about to attend a prayer in Birla House on 30th January 1948, Godse approached him and shot three bullets into his chest, instantly killing him on the spot. Later, Godse and his co-conspirators were executed in 1949.

10. John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was shot three times in his throat and his head.

John F. Kennedy’s death still remains a controversy that shook the world. JFK was travelling in a motorcade in his open-limousine when he was shot three times in his throat and his head. This tragic event took place on November 22nd, 1963.  Lee Harvey Oswald, an ex-Marine was believed to be the assassin but he claimed innocence. Later, he too was killed by Jack Ruby before the trial. It is believed that Kennedy’s death could be part of a bigger conspiracy but nothing can be said for sure.

11. Nur Muhammad Taraki (1917-1979)

Nur Muhammad Taraki was an Afghan President who was suffocated to death with a pillow.

His political rival Hafizullah Amin was eyeing his power and position. One fine day, Amin came with his troops to arrest Taraki and put him in a cell. He then, contacted the leader of USSR, Leonoid Brezhnev to seek advice on what he should do with Taraki. When Leonoid replied saying ‘do as you please’ Amin had Taraki killed by suffocating him with a pillow.

12. Harvey Milk (1930-1978)

Harvey Milk was the first gay American politician who was elected to the public office. He was killed by a jealous co-worker.

On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were killed by Dan White who was a supervisor from another city. The motive of this assassination is still unclear but it is believed that White was not fond of Harvey Milk. We don’t know if the motive for killing Harvey was professional rivalry, homophobia or both.

13. Theo Van Gogh  (1957-2004)

A Dutch filmmaker, Theo Van Gogh was stabbed in his chest.

He joined hands with activist Ayaan Hirsi to make a short film called Submission. The film highlighted the exploitation of women in Islam. Van Gogh was shot several times while he was riding his bicycle to work, on 2nd November, 2004. His assassin was identified as Mohammed Bouyeri, who was 26-years-old. He also stabbed Van Gogh in his chest and wrote a letter, threatening Hirsi Ali where he spewed hate against  ‘the west and the Jews’.

14. Judge John Wood (1916-1979)

John Wood Jr. was a judge in the state of Texas who was known for his merciless sentencing of drug traffickers. He was killed by Woody Harrelson’s dad (actor Woody Harrelson’s estranged father).

He was to give his judgement against Jamiel Chagra who was one of the most prolific marijuana traffickers to have ever lived. Jamiel’s supporter contacted Charles Harrelson who was a contract killer at that time. Harrelson killed Wood in front of his house and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Harrelson died of cancer in 2008.

15. Luis Carrero-Blanco (1904-1973)

Luis Carrero-Blanco was the Prime Minister of Spain who was killed in a deadly explosion. 

He was hated by the people from the Basque region. A commondo unit from Basque region planned to assassinate him so they rented a basement flat at Calle Claudio Coello 104, Madrid. Blanco often passed through this area to attend mass. The commonado unit dug a tunnel under the road through which Blanco passed for almost five months. In December 1973, three members of the commando unit posed as electricians and they detonated an explosive right when Blanco’s car passed. Blanco, his driver and his bodyguard all died in the incident.

16. Ruth First (1925-1982)

Ruth First was a South African anti-apartheid activist who was  killed by a letter bomb.

During the 60s no one had the guts to openly talk about Apartheid that was practiced in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. Ruth First was the first lady who opposed it and was sent to exile immediately after. On August 17th, 1982, she was in Mozambique pursuing a research training where she was killed when she opened a letter bomb addressed to her. It is believed that Craig Williamson, an officer who was working in the South African police department had ordered to kill her.

17. Grigoris Lambrakis (1912-1963)

Grigoris Lambrakis was a Greek politician who was smashed in the head with a baton. 

He was wanted dead by many since he was a Greek left-wing politician and a vocal opponent of the fascist ruling party, police and military in Greece during the early 60s. His growing popularity was not liked by many so they planned to take matters into their own hands. Two assassins who were for the right-wing party parked themselves in scooters when Lambrakis was surrounded by a horde of supporters. They slowly drove close to him and smashed his head with a baton. Soon enough, the assassins were caught by the supporters and were arrested by the police.

18. Archduke Ferdinand (1863-1914)

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a member of the imperial Habsburg dynasty who was killed along with his wife. 

On 28th June, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. This tragic incident sparked a chain of events the led to the outbreak of World War I by early August.

These were the most infamous assassinations in history that will always stay in our minds.