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  • 6/28/2010

The Day in History:

Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand Assassinated (1914)

franz ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand (December 18, 1863 – June 28, 1914) was an Archduke of Austria-Este, Prince Imperial of Austria and Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, and from 1896 until his death, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. His assassination in Sarajevo precipitated the Austrian declaration of war. This caused countries allied with Austria-Hungary (the Central Powers) and countries allied with Serbia (the Triple Entente Powers) to declare war on each other, starting World War I.

He was born in Graz, Austria, the eldest son of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria (younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph and Maximilian I of Mexico) and of his second wife, Princess Maria Annunciata of the Two Sicilies. When he was only twelve years old, his cousin Duke Francis V of Modena died, naming Franz Ferdinand his heir on condition that he add the name Este to his own. Franz Ferdinand thus became one of the wealthiest men in Austria.

When he was born, there was no reason to think that Franz Ferdinand would ever be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. He was given the normal strict education of an archduke with an emphasis on history and moral character. From 1876 to 1885 his tutor was the historian Onno Klopp. In 1883 Franz Ferdinand entered the army with the rank of third lieutenant.

As a young man, Franz Ferdinand developed three great passions: hunting, travel, and jousting. It is estimated that he shot more than 5,000 deer in his lifetime. In 1883, he visited Italy for the first time in order to see the properties left to him by Duke Francis V of Modena. In 1885, he visited Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey. In 1889, he visited Germany. At age thirteen, he broke two of his ribs after falling off his horse while jousting.

In 1889, Franz Ferdinand"s life changed dramatically. His cousin Crown Prince Rudolf committed suicide at his hunting lodge in Mayerling, leaving Franz Ferdinand"s father, Archduke Karl Ludwig, as first in line to the throne. However his father renounced his succession rights a few days after the Crown Prince"s death. Henceforth, Franz Ferdinand was groomed to succeed. Despite this burden, he did manage to find time for travel and personal pursuits -- for example, the time he spent hunting kangaroos and emus in Australia in 1893, and the return trip to Austria in sailing across the Pacific on the RMS Empress of Canada from Yokohama to Vancouver.


Marriage and family

Archduke Franz Ferdinand (right) with his family.In 1895 Franz Ferdinand met Countess Sophie Chotek at a ball in Prague. To be an eligible marriage partner for a member of the House of Habsburg, one had to be a member of one of the reigning or formerly reigning dynasties of Europe. The Choteks were not one of these families, although they did include among their ancestors, in the female line, princess of Baden, Hohenzollern-Hechingen, and Liechtenstein. Sophie was a lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Isabella, wife of Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen. Franz Ferdinand began to visit Archduke Friedrich"s villa in Pressburg (now Bratislava). Sophie wrote to Franz Ferdinand during his convalescence from tuberculosis when he went to the island of Lo?inj in the Adriatic. They kept their relationship a secret for more than two years.

Archduchess Isabella assumed that Franz Ferdinand was enamored of one of her daughters. In 1898, however, he left his watch lying on a tennis court at her home. She opened the watch, expecting to find there a photograph of one of her daughters; instead, she found a photograph of Sophie. Sophie was immediately dismissed from her position.

Deeply in love, Franz Ferdinand refused to consider marrying anyone else. Pope Leo XIII, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and the German Emperor Wilhelm II all made representations on Franz Ferdinand"s behalf to the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, arguing that the disagreement between Franz Joseph and Franz Ferdinand was undermining the stability of the monarchy.

Finally, in 1899, the Emperor Franz Joseph agreed to permit Franz Ferdinand to marry Sophie, on condition that the marriage would be morganatic and that their descendants would not have succession rights to the throne. Sophie would not share her husband"s rank, title, precedence, or privileges; as such, she would not normally appear in public beside him. She would not be allowed to ride in the royal carriage, or sit in the royal box.

The wedding took place on July 1, 1900, at Reichstadt (now Z?kupy) in Bohemia; Franz Joseph did not attend the affair, nor did any archduke including Franz Ferdinand"s brothers. The only members of the imperial family who were present were Franz Ferdinand"s stepmother, Maria Theresia, and her two daughters. Upon the marriage, Sophie was given the title Princess of Hohenberg (Fürstin von Hohenberg) with the style Her Serene Highness (Ihre Durchlaucht). In 1909, she was given the more senior title Duchess of Hohenberg (Herzogin von Hohenberg) with the style Her Highness (Ihre Hoheit). This raised her status considerably, but she still yielded precedence at court to all the archduchesses. Whenever a function required the couple to gather with the other members of royalty, Sophie was forced to stand far down the line of importance, separated from her husband.

franz ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand"s children were:

Princess Sophie von Hohenberg (1901-1990), married Count Friedrich von Nostitz-Rieneck (1891-1973)

Maximilian, Duke of Hohenberg (1902-1962), married Countess Elisabeth von Waldburg zu Wolfegg und Waldsee (1904-1993)

Prince Ernst von Hohenberg (1904-1954), married Marie-Therese Wood (1910-1985)



1911 Gr?f & Stift Bois de Boulogne tourer in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were riding at the time of their assassination.On June 28, 1914, at approximately 11:15 am, Franz Ferdinand and his wife were killed in Sarajevo, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, by Gavrilo Princip, a member of Young Bosnia and one of a group of assassins organized by The Black Hand (???? ????/Crna Ruka).[4] The event, known as the Assassination in Sarajevo, led to a chain of events that eventually triggered World War I. Ferdinand and Sophie had previously been attacked when a grenade was thrown at their car. It hit the hood of the car and detonated far behind them. The royal couple insisted on seeing all those injured at the hospital. While traveling there, Franz Ferdinand"s car took a wrong turn onto a side street where Princip spotted them. As their car was backing up, Princip approached and shot both Sophie, striking her in the abdomen, and Franz, who was struck in the jugular and was still alive when witnesses arrived to render aid. Princip had used the Browning .380 ACP cartridge, a relatively low power round, and a pocket-sized FN model 1910 pistol. The archduke"s aides attempted to undo his coat when they realized they needed scissors to cut the coat open, but it was too late; he died within minutes. Sophie also died while en route to the hospital.  The assassinations, along with the arms race, nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and the alliance system all contributed to the beginning of World War I, which began less than two months after Franz Ferdinand"s death, with Austria-Hungary"s declaration of war against Serbia.

Franz Ferdinand is interred with his wife Sophie in Artstetten Castle, Austria.

A detailed account of the shooting can be found in Sarajevo by Joachim Remak

...one bullet pierced Franz Ferdinand"s neck while the other pierced Sophie"s abdomen.... As the car was reversing (to go back to the Governor"s residence because the entourage thought the Imperial couple were unhurt) a thin streak of blood shot from the Archduke"s mouth onto Count Harrach"s right cheek (he was standing on the car"s running board). Harrach drew out a handkerchief to still the gushing blood. The Duchess, seeing this, called: "For Heaven"s sake! What happened to you?" and sank from her seat, her face falling between her husband"s knees.

Harrach and Potoriek... thought she had fainted... only her husband seemed to have an instinct for what was happening. Turning to his wife despite the bullet in his neck, Franz Ferdinand pleaded: "Sopherl! Sopherl! Sterbe nicht! Bleibe am Leben fur unsere Kinder! - Sophie dear! Don"t die! Stay alive for our children!". Having said this, he seemed to sag down himself. His plumed hat... fell off; many of its green feathers were found all over the car floor. Count Harrach seized the Archduke by the uniform collar to hold him up. He asked "Leiden Eure Kaiserliche Hoheit sehr - Is Your Imperial Highness suffering very badly?" "Es ist nichts - It is nothing" said the Archduke in a weak but audible voice. He seemed to be losing consciousness, but, his voice growing steadily weaker, he repeated the phrase perhaps six or seven times more. He was losing consciousness during his last few minutes.

A rattle began to issue from his throat, which subsided as the car drew in front of the Konak bersibin (Town Hall). Despite several doctors" efforts, the Archduke died shortly after being carried into the building while his beloved wife was almost certainly dead from internal bleeding before the motorcade reached the Konak.

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

Other Links:

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The Day in History: First Juneteenth Celebrations (1865)

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