From murderous coups to lone-man extremists, world leader assassinations can have many causes, but cannot happen without huge implications for the surviving society. Get the top-ten murders that most impacted the world, plus pictures and videos below.

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Every developed society in the world can point back to a former ruler, whose murder changed the fate of their society. In the U.S., two Presidents stand out above the rest: Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

Abraham Lincoln, the President that stopped the United States from splitting in two through the U.S. Civil war, is hailed as an immensely important influence on human rights and one of the greatest U.S. Presidents. Shot by John Wilkes Booth in 1865, his tragic death served to unify the once rival Northern and Southern states, some argue, more effectively than a whole life of politics could have.

But world leader assassinations have been a regular occurrence before the words “United States” were ever mentioned. One of the most influential happened in Ancient Rome, and is one of the most written about and discussed killings of a ruler in human history. Brining Ancient Rome to new heights by being the first to unify the former Republic as an Empire, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by Senator Brutus in the hope of restoring the republic. The after effects were quite the opposite. A champion of the people, Caesar’s Empire was cemented as the status quo by his death.

Stepping back into the common era, the murder of Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand no doubt had the most obvious and terrible effects on the world. Shot in the neck while visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, his death is attributed as the spark that ignited World War I, which began less than two months later.

But it isn’t always national rulers whose deaths can rock a nation. Dr. Martin Luther King, the head of the American Civil Rights Movement, and Mahatma Gandhi, architect of the movement for India’s independence from the United Kingdom, were each murdered by extremist lone-wolf killers. Their deaths brought about rioting in their respective countries, and propelled their respective causes to the forefront of global attention.

Living at the same time as Dr. Marting Luther King, President John F. Kennedy was the last U.S. President to be killed in office. Elected at the ripe young age of 43, JFK lead the United States during the pivotal Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race, the Civil Rights Movement, the era of the Berlin Wall, and the beginnings of the Vietnam War. Shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963 while travelling in motorcade, his death and the subsequent murder of his brother Robert served to unify Americans during a time of huge socio-economic change.

The silver lining of world leader assassinations is the ironic fact that most of their deaths lead to great improvements in the causes that they championed. Let me know what you think of our list, or if you have a name to be added in the comment section! And don’t miss photos and videos of these global champions below!

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