3 badasses of history who survived bad assassination attempts

3 badasses of history who survived bad assassination attempts

3 badasses of history who survived bad assassination attempts 1800 1200 DeadHappy

The BBC recently reported that three days of Donald Trump’s visit to the UK will cost more than £18m. A large chunk of this will be going on security, which is understandable given the history of assassination attempts on US presidents.

History is rife with assassinations, from Julius Caesar to Rasputin to JFK, but let’s take a look at a few who narrowly escaped attempts on their life, or were lucky enough to have their assailants make a hash of it.


One of history’s most polarising figures, Fidel Castro, the former President of Cuba once said that “if surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.” What other award would you give someone who survived 638 assassination attempts? These attempts are attributed mostly to the CIA, even though they only officially owned up to six (presumably because they lost count). The majority of these plots were probably just ‘all guns blazing’ affairs – quite passé compared to some of their other zany plots.

Smoking kills, unless you’re Fidel Castro. One notable attempt on his life involved exploding one of his beloved cigars, only for it to blow up in the CIA’s face. They also attempted to recruit one of Castro’s lovers to poison him, only for her to bottle it and confess.

In desperation, the attempts to take out Castro became considerably stranger. He was known to be a keen scuba diver, so one attempt involved a diving suit laced with bacteria, as well as a booby-trapped conch shell.


Queen Victoria managed to survive seven assassination attempts over 64 years on the throne.

The first would-be killer, Edward Oxford, fired two pistols at the Queen on what was to become a series of unfortunate jollies in her carriage.

Queen Victoria was actually rather laidback about the death thing. The assassin behind the second attempt, John Francis, was originally sentenced to death. Rather than face the noose, Queen Victoria sent him off to Australia, because there’s absolutely nothing in Australia that can kill you.

It seemed that the third guy, John William Bean, fancied a trip down under too. He tried to fire into the Queen’s carriage just five weeks later, but his gun misfired and he escaped through the crowd. The police were told to be on the lookout for a “hunchbacked dwarf”. In what we imagine was the fastest police search in history, Bean was arrested and only sentenced to 18 months in jail, given his young age of 17 and the bumbling nature of the attempt (most people in his vicinity hadn’t even realised he’d taken a shot at the Queen).


Throughout his reign, Tsar Alexander II carried out a number of pretty decent reforms. Not only did he free serfs, but he also abolished corporal punishment and advocated university education.

Alexander’s reward for his efforts? Eight foiled assassination attempts. One of the first attempts, at the 1867 World’s Fair, was bungled when the gunman missed and instead hit a horse. It took more than luck to save Alexander’s life the next time. When he found himself under gunfire he went all James Bond and ran in a zigzag line to avoid being struck.

It’s time to question your popularity when an actual group forms with the sheer intent of killing you. Narodnaya Volya or ‘People’s Will’ was a group of nihilists who carried out three unsuccessful attempts to bomb Alexander’s train route or his palace. Unlike Castro and Victoria, Alexander ran out of luck on the final attempt when a bomb under his train carriage blew his legs off.

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