Little Bits of History

June 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 28, 2017

1914: Franz Ferdinand Carl Ludwig Joseph Maria dies. He was born in Graz, Austria, the eldest son of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria in 1863. When he was 11, his cousin Duke Francis V of Modena, died and left Franz Ferdinand his heir on the condition he add Este to his name and with this done, he became the wealthiest man in Austria. Another cousin, Crown Prince Rudolf committed suicide in 1889 and so Karl Ludwig was next in line for the throne of Austria-Hungary. When Karl died of typhoid fever in 1896, his son, Franz Ferdinand was next in line for the throne.

Like most Hapsburg males, Franz Ferdinand joined the Austro-Hungarian Army at a young age and was rapidly promoted (lieutenant at age fourteen, captain at twenty-two, colonel at twenty-seven, and major general at thirty-one). The years 1892-93 were filled with a trip around the globe and soon after his return, in 1894, he met and fell in love with Countess Sophie Chotek in Prague. Marrying into the family meant one had to have royal lineage and Sophie did not meet the requirements. In 1899, Franz Ferdinand finally got permission from Emperor Franz Joseph to marry but only on the condition that their children not be in line for the throne and Sophie would not share her husband’s rank, title, or privileges.

The couple married on July 1, 1900 with little family in attendance as they boycotted the wedding. Sophie was given titles through the years, but not to match her husband’s title of Archduke. The couple had one daughter and two sons, with a third son stillborn. Franz Ferdinand’s political stance was generally liberal, unless you subscribe to those who typified him as Catholic conservative. He was vocal in his opinion of Hungarian nationalism as a revolutionary threat to the Hapsburg dynasty. While he was in support of other Slavic people, his disagreements with Hungarians was known. He warned that taking a harsh stand against Serbia in their own disagreements with Hungary, would lead to conflict with Russia.

On this day, while in Sarajevo, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Archduke and his wife were together when someone threw a grenade at their car. It missed and hurt those in the car behind. They continued on their tour and their driver took a wrong turn. This brought them into the path of Gavrilo Princip, 19, and part of a group called the Black Hand. Princip was able to shoot first Sophie and then Franz Ferdinand. Both would die of their wounds and the ensuing fight over who would be responsible for the investigation and trial for guilty parties would eventually lead to the start of World War I.

[Sophie] could never share [Franz Ferdinand’s] rank … could never share his splendours, could never even sit by his side on any public occasion.

There was one loophole … his wife could enjoy the recognition of his rank when he was acting in a military capacity. Hence, he decided, in 1914, to inspect the army in Bosnia.

There, at its capital Sarajevo, the Archduke and his wife could ride in an open carriage side by side …

Thus, for love, did the Archduke go to his death. – all from AJP Taylor