Michele Angiolillo

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Michele Angiolillo.

Michele Angiolillo Lombardi (Italian pronunciation: [miˈkɛːle andʒoˈlillo]; 5 June 1871 – 20 August 1897) was an Italian anarchist, born in Foggia, Italy. He assassinated Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas in 1897 and was captured and executed by Spanish authorities in the same year.

Barcelona bombing and Montjuïc repression[edit]

On 7 June 1896 a bomb was thrown at the Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona. At least twelve people died and 45 were seriously injured.[1][2] The crime was attributed by police to an unidentified anarchist.

The attack precipitated an aggressive reprisal against Spanish anarchists, socialists and republicans, known as the Montjuïc trial: three hundred alleged revolutionaries were jailed at Montjuïc Fortress, and confessions were extracted by torture.[2] The prime minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo himself ordered the repression. Reports of the prisoner abuse were circulated widely in the European press.

Of the 87 prisoners taken to trial at Montjuïc, eight received death sentences; five executions were carried out.[3] Many others were condemned to long imprisonment and the remaining prisoners were deported to Río de Oro (a Spanish colony in what is now the disputed Western Sahara).

The assassination of Cánovas del Castillo[edit]

Killing of Castillo by Angiolillo.
Execution of Angiolillo by garrote vil.
New York Times headline after his execution. Michele Angiolillo uttered clearly the word Germinal before he died.

Using a false identity, Michele 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.[4] On 8 August 1897, Angiolillo found Cánovas alone at the thermal bath resort of Santa Águeda (now a psychiatric hospital) in Mondragón, Guipúzcoa, 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. The New York Times wrote:

Angiolillo allowed the authorities to capture him and vehemently denied other parties' involvement in the assassination. He was executed by garrote in the nearby town of Vergara.[5]


  1. ^ "Terrorism in Barcelona and Its Impact on Spanish Politics 1904-1909", by J. Romero Maura, Past & Present 1968, 41:130-183
  2. ^ a b Esenwein, George Richard (1989). Anarchist Ideology and the Working-class Movement in Spain, 1868-1898. University of California Press. pp. 191–202. ISBN 9780520063983.
  3. ^ Headsman (2012-05-04). "1897: Five Barcelona anarchists". Executed today. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ "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