- Category : 1873-births
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (12,32,38,53)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Unexpected 1
Italian anarchist and the assassin of Empress Elisabeth "Sissi" of Austria. The assassination begot an international conference at which delegates from 21 nations defined anarchism as terrorism and resolved to begin agencies to surveil suspected anarchists and permit capital punishment for assassination of sovereigns. Elisabeth's life and subsequent murder by Lucheni is depicted across many stage productions, films and novels.
Born to Luigia Laccheni and an unknown father, Luigi was left as a baby to a foundling hospital. As an infant he was moved to Italy in August 1874 and transferred between orphanages and foster families. Lucheni worked odd jobs in Italy, Switzerland, and Austria-Hungary. He served in the military for three years and moved to Switzerland, where he befriended anarchists in Lausanne.
On 10 September 1898, Lucheni used a tapered file to fatally stab Empress Elisabeth of Austria during her visit to Geneva. Elisabeth and her lady-in-waiting Countess Sztáray had departed their hotel on Lake Geneva to ride a paddle steamer to Montreux. They walked without their attendants, as Elisabeth disdained royal processions. On the docks in the early afternoon, around 1:15 PM, Lucheni approached and stabbed Elisabeth below her left breast with a wooden-handled, four-inch file, the kind used to file the eyes of industrial needles. Badly wounded, she nevertheless continued walking, with the support of two other people, 100 yards to board the departing steamer. The steamer returned to shore after Countess Sztáray first noticed Elisabeth's bleeding, whereupon the Empress was carried back to the hotel on a makeshift stretcher. Two doctors pronounced her dead within an hour of the attack. Documentation of the autopsy was destroyed.
Lucheni was apprehended upon fleeing the scene and his file was found the next day. He told the authorities that he was an anarchist who came to Geneva with the intention of killing any sovereign as an example for others. Lucheni used the file because he didn't have enough money for a stiletto.
His trial began the next month, in October. He was furious to find that capital punishment had been abolished in Geneva, and wrote a letter demanding that he be tried in another canton, such that he could be martyred. He received the sentence of life imprisonment instead.
Lucheni wrote his childhood memoirs while in Geneva's Évêché prison. He was harassed in prison and his notebooks were stolen. He was found hanged in his cell on 19 October 1910. His head was preserved in formaldehyde and transferred to Vienna in 1986. The head was on display in Vienna's Narrenturm until 2000 when the remains were interred at the Wiener Zentralfriedhof. Lucheni's childhood memoirs were published in 1998.