Front Page Titles (by Subject) 77.: Murder as an Expedient - Judgments on History and Historians
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77.: Murder as an Expedient - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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Murder as an Expedient
It stands to reason that in the absence of any legal recourse one judges one’s own cause and that a government or an individual undertakes the destruction of an adversary.
The next nuance would be that one could arrest one’s opponent, but not judge him without dangerous currents of feeling, uprisings, and other consequences, and that as a rule one would be too late to thwart plots and the like. Here applies the saying: Salus reipublicae suprema lex esto [the safety of the state shall be the supreme law].
Not only princes indulged in murder, especially after the latter part of the Middle Ages, but also cities, such as Augsburg and others; secret agents were kept for this sort of thing. In the sixteenth century Ferdinand I had Martinucci killed, and Philip II Escovedo. In addition, the supposed secret executions “on the black velvet” should be mentioned.
The second side of this is the scholarly and at times also popular view that tyrannicide is permissible, even commendable.
On this they all agree: “gentle” Melanchthon and even Luther. The former desires it against Henry VIII, after the execution of Thomas Cromwell. Later the Jesuits represented a corresponding view.
Religious zeal unfailingly produces this phenomenon and its commendation on both sides. In 1563, when their cause was extremely hard pressed, the Huguenot preachers saw their only salvation in the murdering of François de Guise and publicly praised Poltrot as a tool of God. Later it happened likewise on the Catholic side with Jacques Clément, the murderer of King Henry III.