BRHG Events |

Talks |

Videos |

Articles |

Galleries |

Press |

History Groups |

Performers |


Off With Their Heads

Bristol Radical History Week 2008

Off With Their Heads
Assassins, Plots & Regicide

Political assassins

Date: Thuesday 28th October 2008
Venue: The Old Fire Station, The Bridewell, Entrance On Silver Street.
Time: 7:30pm
Price: Donation

Avengers & Madmen - Propagandists Of The Deed & The Dawn Of Modern Terrorism

Speaker: Matt Carr

The author of the controversial (and banned) history of terrorism, The Infernal Machine, looks at the anarchist assassins of the late 19th century. Carr considers how such attacks were perceived by their protagonists and spectators, and how the heroic template that they developed has been reproduced in various other contexts.

Author of The Infernal Machine – A History of Terrorism*, the first edition (2007) of which was pulped after a Saudi lawsuit succeeded in suppressing it. Matt has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of publications writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Sicilian Mafia, state terror in Central America and the Spanish government’s use of death squads against ETA. He is also the author of the acclaimed memoir My Father’s House.

*Note that this book's title was Unknown Soldiers: How Terrorism Transformed the Modern World when it was first published in the UK. The book is still available as The Infernal Machine – A History of Terrorism in the USA, where the liable laws are different.

What can he do who lacks the necessary work, if he comes to be unemployed? He has nothing but to let himself die of hunger. Then a few phrases of pity will thrown on his cadaver. That's what I decided to leave to others. I preferred to make myself a black-marketer, forger, thief, murderer and assassin. I could have begged: it's degrading and cowardly and even punished by your laws that make a crime of poverty. If all those in need, instead of waiting, took wherever there was enough to be taken and by any means whatever, the satisfied would perhaps understand quicker that there is danger in trying to consecrate the current social condition, where worry is permanent and life threatened at every instant. - François Claudius Koeningstein A.K.A Ravachol.

‘Peter The Painter’ - The Full Story At Last!

Speaker: Phil Ruff

The ‘Houndsditch Murders’ of 16 December 1910, when five policemen were shot and three of them killed by Latvian anarchists, are still regarded today as the single worst police murder in British history. The men responsible entered into East London folklore when they took on Winston Churchill and the British Army in ‘The Siege of Sidney Street’.  But no one ever accounted for the mysterious leader of the gang: ‘Peter the Painter’.

Phil Ruff’s detective work in Latvia since 1988 has resulted in proof positive of the real identity of 'Peter the Painter' - Janis Zhaklis - and unearthed the real story of his life and revolutionary career.  But more than that, Phil has opened a window on the hitherto unknown history of Latvian anarchism and of the 1905 revolution in the Baltic which gave rise to it. This wider story reveals the violent events in London – shocking as they may appear - to be part of a much bigger story of class war, revolution and survival. 

Phil Ruff is a historian of the anarchist movement and has been working since 1988 on uncovering the identity of ‘Peter the Painter’. This mysterious figure was central to the legends associated with the ‘Siege of Sidney St.’ in 1910 when a small group of Latvian Anarchists held off hundreds of fully armed police and soldiers for hours in the East End of London.


The arrest of Ravachol, the French
anarchist, on 30th March 1892 from the
front page of Le Progrès 10th April 1892.

Henry Clay Frick

Alexander Berkman's assassination
attempt on Henry Clay Frick in 1892.

The Siege Of Sidney Street

Winston Churchill (highlighted) at Sidney Street, 3 January 1911

Back To The Programme Page

Contact BRHG | News RSS | facebook group | Search