Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bernardino Fratoddi's Brush With Royalty

As genealogists, we all would love to find a connection to royalty. Mine came in an unexpected way.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Queen consort of Croatia and Bohemia, was a beloved member of the royal family. I can see why, as she was very beautiful. She married Emperor Franz Joseph I when she was 16.
Empress Elisabeth at her
coronation as Queen of Hungary, 8 June 1867. Public Domain

While travelling in Geneva September 10, 1898, she was stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist named Luigi Lucheni. He was rather proud of the murder, and was arrested soon after. He freely admitted to the murder, and had wanted to gain martyrdom and widespread publicity for the anarchist cause.
Luigi Lucheni in custody. Public domain

My connection? My great grandfather Bernardino Fratoddi was later arrested for this same crime. I found this article while searching The European Library for the name Fratoddi.

Berliner Volkszeitung (Peoples Daily) 12 April 1902
Translation kindly provided by +Jack Coffee :

"On the wrong track. Yesterday we received from Duesseldorf a message regarding the earlier reported arrest of Bernadino Fratoddi (not Frateldi), a 35-year-old Italian: As a result of a thorough investigation, Fratoddi was found to have played absolutely no part in the murder of Empress Elizabeth of Austria. He was apprehended because he was expelled from Germany and was suspected of being an anarchist. In addition to having a letter from the local police confirming that he was a hard worker, Fratoddi wrote a letter while he was in jail to his previous employer resolutely denying that he was in any way associated with anarchy. He much rather professed to be a supporter of social-democracy."

Searching for Frateldi yielded this article from two days earlier, April !0.

Tranlation again provided by +Jack Coffee 

An Arrest. From the Dusseldorf "Rhein Wests"(?) Newspaper reports here of the arrest of Anarchist the Italian Bernardino Frattodi. The arrest reportedly pertains to the assassination of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. Frattodi was at the time of the assassination of Empress Elizabeth in Switzerland, where he was residing(?) with other Italians. The "Borio"(?) asserts Frattodi, whom he calls Frateldi, was not an anarchist, but a Socialdemocrat.

It is unclear from the article exactly when he was arrested, or how long it took to clear his name, although it appears it was only a few days. Perhaps there were conspiracy theories. I know he was one of 16 anarchists expelled from Switzerland in November 1898.

Bernardino is #9

He took refuge in Germany where he was "hunted in 1902 for anarchist propaganda". This may be a result of that hunt.

Only a few months later, Bernardino boarded the steamship Lahn in Naples, and arrived in New York on August 18, 1902.

His application for citizenship specifically asked if he was an anarchist, to which he replied no.