Most famous assassins are men, but there are also quite a few famous female assassins, of which Charlotte Corday is probably one of the best known. Corday, nicknamed the Angel of Assassination, assassinated the French Revolution’s Jean-Paul Marat in 1793, effectively turning him into a martyr and saint of sorts. At first, Corday was generally loathed for the murder, but, during the Second Empire, many French citizens began to see her as a heroine.
Marat had a skin disease that could only be alleviated by cold baths, causing him to conduct most business from his bath tub in the last few years of his life, so it wasn’t considered at all odd for Corday to request an audience while her victim-to-be was bathing. In the privacy of his bathroom, she stabbed him to death, but was caught and executed by guillotine.
The best-known female would-be assassin is possibly Sara Jane Moore, who attempted to kill future President Gerald Ford in 1975. Luckily for him, she missed the shot thanks to a bystander who saw her aiming and yanked her arm. She received a thirty-two year ‘life sentence’, and the then-72-year-old was released in 2007.
Other famous female assassins include Shi Jianqiao, who killed the warlord Sun Chuanfang to avenge her father’s death, and Marcia Aurelia Ceionia Demetrias, who poisoned Roman Emperor Commodus after discovering that he planned to execute her. A few other would-be female assassins are Fanni Kaplan, who failed to kill Vladimir Lenin despite shooting him three times, Violet Gibson, who shot Mussolini twice in the nose, and Izola Curry, who stabbed Martin Luther King Jr with a letter opener at a book signing in 1958.
If Curry had succeeded, the Civil Rights Movement would probably have turned out very differently. True to his nature, King forgave her and held no grudge for the attempted murder, and, because the court judged her unfit to stand trial, she was committed to the Matteawan State Hospital for the criminally insane. Her current whereabouts are unknown as far as I can see, and it’s unclear if she’s even still alive.
Then there are the Kunoichi – ancient Japanese female ninjas who were trained to seduce and poison their victims, sometimes gaining easy access by disguising themselves as prostitutes – much like the assassin Blade sometimes does in The Queen’s Blade, although the Kunoichi had it easier than Blade, since they already had all the right body parts necessary for the disguise.
More recently, Maria Jimenez aka La Tosca was dubbed Mexico’s ‘deadliest female assassin’ after confessing to killing twenty people – amongst other things, like kidnapping, car theft and drug dealing. Unlike most assassins, Jimenez is an assassin in the truest sense of the word – the Los Zetas drug cartel allegedly paid her $1700 a month for her services, which included killing whoever she was asked to kill. Jimenez, a 26-year-old widow, was arrested in 2012 when she gunned down a police officer and rival drug traffickers.