Gaetano Bresci
Gaetano Bresci was an Italian American
Italian American
An Italian American , is an American of Italian ancestry. The designation may also refer to someone possessing Italian and American dual citizenship...

Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 who assassinated King Umberto I of Italy
Umberto I of Italy
Umberto I or Humbert I , nicknamed the Good , was the King of Italy from 9 January 1878 until his death. He was deeply loathed in far-left circles, especially among anarchists, because of his conservatism and support of the Bava-Beccaris massacre in Milan...

. Bresci was the first European regicide
The broad definition of regicide is the deliberate killing of a monarch, or the person responsible for the killing of a monarch. In a narrower sense, in the British tradition, it refers to the judicial execution of a king after a trial...

 not to be executed, as capital punishment in Italy
Capital punishment in Italy
The use of capital punishment in Italy has been banned since 1889, with the exception of the period 1926-1947. When Italy was unified in 1860, capital punishment had been allowed in almost all pre-unitarian states, except for Tuscany...

 had been abolished since 1889.


Bresci was born at Coiano, near Prato
Prato is a city and comune in Tuscany, Italy, the capital of the Province of Prato. The city is situated at the foot of Monte Retaia , the last peak in the Calvana chain. The lowest altitude in the comune is 32 m, near the Cascine di Tavola, and the highest is the peak of Monte Cantagrillo...

, Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

, and emigrated from Italy to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, making his living as a weaver in Paterson, New Jersey
Paterson, New Jersey
Paterson is a city serving as the county seat of Passaic County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 146,199, rendering it New Jersey's third largest city and one of the largest cities in the New York City Metropolitan Area, despite a decrease of 3,023...

, which had a large Italian-American community. He was one of the founders of La Questione Sociale, the Italian language
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 anarchist paper published in Paterson. According to Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century....

In 1898, high bread prices led to demonstrations all over Italy. In Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, an unarmed crowd of protestors marched toward the palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

, which was surrounded by a strong military
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

The Carabinieri is the national gendarmerie of Italy, policing both military and civilian populations, and is a branch of the armed forces.-Early history:...

 force under command of General Fiorenzo Bava-Beccaris
Fiorenzo Bava-Beccaris
Fiorenzo Bava-Beccaris was an Italian general, especially remembered for his brutal repression of riots in Milan in 1898, known as the Bava-Beccaris massacre.-Biography:...

. The people ignored the order to disperse, whereupon the General gave the signal to fire with muskets and cannons, resulting in a massacre of the demonstrators
Bava-Beccaris massacre
The Bava Beccaris massacre, named after the Italian General Fiorenzo Bava Beccaris, refers to the repression of widespread riots in Milan in May 1898....

. More than ninety people died.

Umberto I's killing

King Umberto later decorated Bava-Beccaris, complimenting him upon his "brave defense of the royal house" — as a result of which Bresci became determined to kill the king. Bresci had his loan to the paper returned (without telling his comrades why), and with the money he went to Italy. In Monza
Monza is a city and comune on the river Lambro, a tributary of the Po, in the Lombardy region of Italy some 15 km north-northeast of Milan. It is the capital of the Province of Monza and Brianza. It is best known for its Grand Prix motor racing circuit, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.On June...

, where the king was visiting on July 29, 1900, he shot him four times with a five-shot .32 revolver.
Bresci was captured and put on trial
Trial (law)
In law, a trial is when parties to a dispute come together to present information in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. One form of tribunal is a court...

, where he was defended by the anarchist lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 Francesco Saverio Merlino
Francesco Saverio Merlino
Francesco Saverio Merlino was an Italian lawyer, anarchist activist and theorist of libertarian socialism.-Life:...

. There being no capital punishment in Italy at the time, he was sentenced in Milan on August 29, 1900, to penal servitude for life on Santo Stefano Island
Santo Stefano Island
Santo Stefano is an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the west coast of Italy, and part of the Pontine Islands. It has a circular shape, is less than 400 metres in diameter, and is located 2 kilometres east from the nearby island of Ventotene....

 near Ventotene
Ventotene, in Roman times known as Pandataria or Pandateria from the Greek Pandoteira, is one of the Pontine Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the coast of Gaeta right at the border between Lazio and Campania, Italy...

, where numerous other anarchists had also been sent over the years. Less than a year later he was found dead in prison. It is not clear whether he committed suicide, as officially announced, or whether he was murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

ed by his guards.


  • Bresci was born 10 November 1869, the day before his victim's son and heir Victor Emmanuel III
    Victor Emmanuel III of Italy
    Victor Emmanuel III was a member of the House of Savoy and King of Italy . In addition, he claimed the crowns of Ethiopia and Albania and claimed the titles Emperor of Ethiopia and King of Albania , which were unrecognised by the Great Powers...

     was born
  • The city of Carrara dedicated a marble monument to Bresci.
  • The city of Prato named a street for him in 1976.
  • Bresci had a custom of always carrying an expensive camera, even on the day he committed regicide.
  • Bresci differed from "normal italo-americans" in his deep knowledge of English, for his camera (a luxury at the time) and for his good relations with American community.
  • Bresci was a "womanizer", very free and easy with the girls, and assisted in this by a discreet culture.
  • Bresci had a daughter named Gaetanina (a convinced anarchist who, after the death of her father, continued what she called her father's struggle for a better life for workers).
  • Ascanio Celestini dedicated a song to Bresci about a murderess who enters "like a thief in the house of the thief" (that is, the owner) to kill him. This piece of music was revived during the 1° May Concert concert in Piazza San Giovanni Laterano in Rome.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.