A wry view of life for the world-weary

There Ain’t ‘Alf Some Clever Bastards – Part Eight


Guiseppe Marco Fieschi

Over the last week or so I have been reading a lot about assassination plots in the 19th century and what has struck me has been how unreliable the weaponry was at the time. Usually indigent, the would-be assassins were reliant upon cheap and inefficient weaponry that generally couldn’t hit a barn door and were so difficult to re-load you were left with a single shot.

Our eighth inductee into the hall of misguided geniuses, Fieschi, born in 1790 in Murato in Corsica, applied his grey cells to the problem. He had been imprisoned for 10 years for theft and forgery – he regarded himself as a victim of injustice – and decided to take his revenge on society by assassinating King Louis Philippe of France. With two accomplices, Morey and Pepin, he devised what he thought would be the ultimate assassination machine, the machine infernale. Recognising that he would have only one shot at his target Fieschi took twenty guns and fused them together in a way that they could be fired simultaneously. In that way, he was bound to hit his target.

On 28th July 1835, Louis Philippe was passing along the Boulevard du Temple in Paris with his three sons and numerous staff. Fieschi fired his machine from a spot around no 50 Boulevard du Temple – the place is marked by a plaque. As soon as the royal party were in his various lines of fire, Fieschi set the machine off, exploding bullets all over the place. He somehow missed his intended target–Louis and his children were only grazed by the hail of bullets – eighteen were killed in the mayhem and many were wounded, including Fieschi. Seemingly, he taped one gun on backwards!

Despite trying to escape our deluded genius was captured. The king ensured that the wounded would-be assassin received the very best medical attention, to ensure that he was fit to face justice. At his trial Fieschi decided to take advantage of this opportunity to finger every last one of his accomplices, confident that he would be pardoned, since the king had done so much to save him already. He ended up being even more surprised when he was sentenced to death by guillotine on February 19, 1836. Morey and Pépin were also executed, another accomplice was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment and one was acquitted. For some reason his death mask is on display at Norwich castle.

During that year police discovered seven plots against King Louis Philippe but none as bizarre or as lethal as that masterminded by our eight inductee, Guiseppe Fieschi. If he still had his head, we would ask him to take a bow!


If you enjoyed this, why not try Fifty Clever Bastards by Martin Fone which is now available on Amazon in Kindle format and paperback. For details follow the link


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