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Giuseppe Marco Fieschi
A portrait of Fieschi drawn at his trial (1835)
Born (1790-12-13)13 December 1790
Bocognano, Corsica, France
Died February 19, 1836(1836-02-19) (aged 46)
Cause of death Executed by guillotine
Nationality French
Known for Attempting the assassination of King Louis-Philippe of France
Criminal charge Murder
Criminal penalty Death
Parents Louis Fieschi and Marie Lucie Fieschi
Military career
Allegiance  France
Service/branch French army
Years of service 1808-1814
Rank Sergeant
Battles/wars Napoleonic Wars

Giuseppe Marco Fieschi (13 December 1790 – 19 February 1836) was the chief conspirator in an attempt on the life of King Louis-Philippe of France in July 1835.


Fieschi was born on 13 December 1790 in Bocognano, a commune on the island of Corsica. His parents were Louis and Marie Lucie, of Pomonti. He had two brothers, Thomas and Anthony. Thomas was killed in the Battle of Wagram.[1] Anthony was mute from birth. Giuseppe spent his childhood and adolescence as a shepherd. In 1808 he joined a Corsican regiment and was sent to Naples, then to Russia to fight in the Napoleonic Wars. In 1812 he held the rank of sergeant. He was discharged from the army in 1814 and returned to Corsica. In September 1815, he was one of around 1000 followers who joined former King of Naples Joachim Murat in an attempt to regain his kingdom, this ended a month later with Murat's capture and execution by forces of Ferdinand IV of Naples.[Note 1] According to Harsin, Fieschi escaped execution and was deported to France, where he was eventually sentenced in 1816 to 10 years in jail for the theft of a steer.[2] There he met a female inmate, Laurence Petit. Upon his release in 1826 he moved to Lyon, Petit's hometown.

Shortly after the July Revolution Fieschi moved to Paris, calling himself a political prisoner. He scammed his way through Paris on account of his 'political prisoner' status. He also maintained a lifelong affair with his stepdaughter Nina which led to the break-up of his relationship with her mother, Laurence. He obtained a small post in Paris by means of forged papers; but he eventually lost his job and pensions that he had scammed off the government.

The assassination attempt on Louis Philippe I

The Boulevard du Temple, one of the earliest photographs by Louis Daguerre. It was taken in 1838, three years after the assassination attempt

The Machine infernale, Museum of French History (2012)

Review of the National Guard, attack of Fieschi, 28 July 1835 by Eugène Lami (Chateau de Versailles)

In 1831, Fieschi met his later-to-be co-conspirator Pierre Morey, a neighbour. Morey was a 61-year-old saddler, who had been involved in Republican politics. He had been arrested but released in 1816, after falling under suspicion of plotting the assassination of the Bourbons. He was later tried, and acquitted of the murder of an Austrian soldier. In 1830, he took part in the July Revolution that put King Louis Phillipe in power.[2]

The two contrived the plan for an "infernal machine", a Volley gun with 25 gun-barrels which could be fired simultaneously. Morey took the plan to Theodore Pepin, chief of the Society of the Rights of Man Section Rome. After a meeting they decide to build the weapon, splitting the cost of 500 francs between Pepin and Theodore, with the penniless Fieschi building it and being paid for it. After much drama[Note 2] the volley gun was completed and ready to be used. The gun was built in the place it was intended to be used – a four-room apartment on the third floor of n° 50 Boulevard du Temple. This was on the expected route the King and his entourage would take during the annual review of the Paris National Guard.

The annual review, which commemorated the 1830 July revolution,[3] took place on 28 July 1835. At around noon, Louis-Philippe was passing along the Boulevard du Temple, which connected Place de la République to the Bastille. He was accompanied by three of his sons, the Duke of Orleans, the Duke of Nemours, and the Prince de Joinville, and a large number of staff and senior officers.

Fieschi was waiting for them, 24 barrels of his gun were each loaded with eight bullets and 15-20 buckshot.[4] When the royal party passed in the street below, he fired the gun. Not all the barrels fired, but the gun still produced a volley of around 400 projectiles. Eighteen people were killed, including Lieutenant Colonel Rieussec together with eight other officers of the 8th Legion, Marshal Mortier, and Colonel Raffet, General Girard, Captain Villate and General La Chasse de Vérigny. A further 22 people were injured.[2][5] The King was one of the injured, but the wound was minor – a bullet or buckshot only grazed his forehead; he continued with the day's events and reviewed the National Guard as planned.[6]

Four of the gun's 25 barrels burst when fired, four others did not fire, and a further one was not loaded as it lacked a touch hole.[4] This meant the number of deaths in injuries was lower than might have been the case, had all components functioned. Fieschi himself was wounded by the gun barrels that burst and was quickly captured. He received severe head and facial wounds[7] and two of his fingers later had to be amputated.[8]

The execution of Fieschi, Pépin and Morey, 19 February 1836

Fieschi's trial became a great spectacle and Fieschi enjoyed his stardom.[9] During the trial, he named his accomplices, displayed much bravado, and expected or pretended to expect ultimate pardon. He was represented by the Corsican lawyer Francois-Marie Patorni, and Parisienne lawyers, Parquin and Chaix dest-Ange,[10][11] He was condemned to death, and was guillotined on 19 February 1836 together with Pierre Morey and Theodore Pépin. Pepin died first, then Morey. Fieschi was the last, and used his last moments for a speech. Fieschi's head was given to a doctor at Bicêtre Hospital for study purposes.

Before his death Pepin made several confessions about revolutionary groups which led to subsequent arrests and trials. Another accomplice was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment and one was acquitted. No less than seven plots against the life of Louis Philippe had been discovered by the police within the year, and apologists were not wanting in the revolutionary press for the crime of Fieschi.

Fourteen victims of Fieschi's attack are interred in the vaults of Les Invalides,[12] which is usually the place of interment for French military leaders which the nation wishes to honor.


Horace Vernet, the King's painter, was ordered to make a drawing of the assassination attempt, which Eugene Louis Lami executed.[13][14] A plaque at n° 50 Boulevard du Temple commemorates the event. Fieschi's death mask is displayed in England at Norwich Castle; the mask shows evidence of the facial and head injuries he received. His Machine infernale is preserved at the Museum of French History.


  1. Bouveroin suggests Fieschi played a treacherous role in this.
  2. For a detailed account, see Harsin (2002)."


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. Encyclopædia Britannica Cambridge University Press 

  1. A. Bouveiron; Giuseppe Marco Fieschi (1835). An historical and biographical sketch of Fieschi. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harsin (2002),p.150
  3. Harsin (2002),p.147
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bouveiron (1835),pp.67-68, Report of M. Lepage, Gunsmith to the King
  5. Gabriel G. Bredow; Carl Venturini (1837). Chronik des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. 
  6. Harsin (2002),p.148
  7. Harsin (2002),p.149
  8. Harsin (2002),p.164
  9. Jill Harsin (2002). Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-29479-3. 
  10. Jill Harsin (2002). Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-29479-3. 
  11. " Autograph letter signed ("Fieschi"). von Fieschi, Giuseppe Marco, conspirator (1790-1839). - [Paris, Conciergerie, January 1836. - - Antiquariat Inlibris, Gilhofer Nfg. GmbH - Bücher"]. Retrieved 2014-10-09. 
  12. "Les Invalides - Paris". Parisrama. Retrieved 28 September 2014.  (French)
  13. A. Bouveiron; Giuseppe Marco Fieschi (1835). An historical and biographical sketch of Fieschi. 
  14. "Attentat De Fieschi by Eugene Louis Lami (1800-1890, France)". Retrieved 2014-10-10. 




See also

  • July Monarchy

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