Why Spencer Perceval Had to Die: The Assassination of a British Prime Minister
Publication date: May 2012
Digital Book format: ePub (Adobe DRM)
You save: $2.00 (10%)
At approximately 5:15pm on the afternoon of May 11, 1812, Spencer Perceval, the all-powerful Prime Minister of Great Britain, was fatally shot at short range in the lobby of Parliament. His assailant was John Bellingham, a man who blamed his government for not intervening when he was unjustly imprisoned in Russia. The killer made no effort to escape in the confusion; remarkably, he firmly believed he would not only be exonerated, but applauded, for his action. But he was not to enjoy relief; a week later, granted the briefest of trials that trampled his right to due process, he was hanged.
In A Political Killing, Andro Linklater examines Bellingham's motives against the dramatic events of his time with the eye of a skilled forensic examiner and the determination of the finest detective. Though small in stature and quiet by nature, few prime ministers have enjoyed Perceval's power; he was also Chancellor of the Exchequer, and as such, in a time of economic disaster caused by the naval blockade against Napoleon's France, which he endorsed, Perceval nonetheless made the decision to sustain Wellington's army in Spain against Napoleon; sent troops to Ireland to compel the loyalty of dissident Catholics; and raised taxes to new heights to finance his activities. Bellingham's act opens a fascinating window onto the western world at the height of the Napoleonic Wars and the start of the War of 1812. At the same time, Linklater investigates, as nobody appears ever to have, the movements and connections of John Bellingham to answer the same questions that have been asked ever since JFK's assassination: Did he act alone? And if not, who aided him, and why?