Michele Angiolillo

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Michele Angiolillo.
Killing of Castillo by Angiolillo.
Execucion Angiolillo in Garrote vil.

Michele Angiolillo Lombardi (Italian pronunciation: [miˈkɛle andʒoˈlillo]; 5 June 1871 – 20 August 1897) was an Italian anarchist, born in Foggia, and murderer of Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas in 1897.

Barcelona bombing and Montjuïc repression[edit]

In June 1896, a bomb was thrown at the Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona. The crime was attributed by police to an unidentified anarchist, and five anarchists were found guilty of complicity for the crime, and sentenced to death.[1]

The five Anarchists sentenced to death for complicity in the dynamite outrages here during the Corpus Christi procession last year were shot at 5 o’clock this morning in the moat of Monjuich Castle. The troops intrusted with the carrying out of the sentence fired repeated volleys at the criminals.[1]

Molas then gave the word for the soldiers to fire. Four of the prisoners fell dead immediately, but Alsina remained on his knees not even wounded. At the second volley he fell, but was not killed outright, and it was not till a third volley had been fired that he was pronounced to be dead. - The Times, May 5, 1897.[1]

The attack precipitated an aggressive reprisal against Spanish anarchists, socialists and republicans—four hundred alleged revolutionaries were jailed at Montjuïc Fortress, many of whom died due to subsequent torture. The prime minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo himself ordered the repression and torture:

Of the 87 prisoners taken to the tribunal, eight received death sentences and nine were condemned to long imprisonment. The other seventy-one were declared innocent but were deported to Río de Oro (a Spanish colony in what is now the disputed Western Sahara), on the orders of Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo.

The assassination[edit]

Tomb of Cánovas at the Panteón de Hombres Ilustres, Madrid.
New York Times headline after his execution. Michele Angiolillo uttered clearly the word Germinal before he died.

Using a false identity, Angiolillo traveled to Spain from Paris (via London) to avenge the Montjuïc persecutions. There is some evidence that he originally planned to kill one or two young members of the Spanish royal family, but was dissuaded by Puerto Rican nationalist leader Ramón Emeterio Betances, who suggested Cánovas del Castillo as a target instead. Betances provided logistical assistance for Angiolillo's safe travel into Spain, as well as some money.[2] Angiolillo found Cánovas alone at the thermal bath resort of Santa Águeda (now a psychiatric hospital) in Mondragón, Guipúzcoa, on 8 August 1897, and shot him dead. The Prime Minister’s wife hurried to the scene, shouting “Murderer! Murderer!” after the gunman. Angiolillo, in turn, bowed and declared, “Pardon, Madame. I respect you as a lady, but I regret that you were the wife of that man.” The repression and mass torture at Montjuich was a direct factor behind Michele Angiolillo's decision to assassinate Cánovas:

Angiolillo allowed the authorities to capture him and vehemently denied other parties' involvement in the assassination. He was executed by garotte in the nearby town of Vergara.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Headsman (2012-05-04). "1897: Five Barcelona anarchists". Executed today. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
  2. ^ Ojeda Reyes, Félix, El Desterrado de París: Biografía del Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances (1827–1898), Ediciones Puerto, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2001, pp. 356-359
  3. ^ "Angiolillo Died Bravely". The New York Times. August 22, 1897. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 


  • F. Tamburini, Michele Angiolillo e l’assassinio di Cánovas del Castillo, in “Spagna contemporanea”, Torino, n.9, 1996.
  • F. Tamburini, Michele Angiolillo el anarquista que asesinó a Cánovas del Castillo, in “Historia 16”, Madrid, 1997
  • F. Tamburini, Betances, los mambises italianos y Michele Angiolillo, in Pasión por la libertad, Actas del coloquio internacional “El independentismo puertorriqueño de Betances a nuestros días”, París septiembre 1998”, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2000
  • Michele Angiolillo Anarchico di Michele Gualano, Edizioni Il Castello, Foggia, 2004
  • M. Gualano, Questionario per il destino - Storia di un anarchico giustiziere (romanzo). Edizioni Il Castello, Foggia, 2013. www.questionarioperildestino.it

Media related to Michele Angiolillo at Wikimedia Commons