Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

Infobox Austrian Royalty|archduke
name = Archduke Francis Ferdinand
title =Archduke of Austria-Este
succession = Archduke of Austria-Este
reign = 1875 - 1914
predecessor = Francis II
successor = Charles

date of birth = birth date|1863|12|18
place of birth = Graz, Austrian Empire
date of death = death date and age|1914|6|28|1863|12|18
place of death = Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary
spouse = Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg
issue = Princess Sophie von Hohenberg
Maximilian, Duke of Hohenberg
Prince Ernst von Hohenberg
father = Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria
mother = Princess Maria Annunciata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Infobox Austriaemperorstyles
royal name=Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este
dipstyle=His Imperial and Royal Highness
offstyle=Your Imperial and Royal Highness

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 [Brook-Shepherd, Gordon(1987), "Royal Sunset", p.139] . His assassination in Sarajevo precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia. 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. [cite book |title=World War I |publisher=Mariner Books |first =S.L.A.| last=Marshall|authorlink=S.L.A. Marshall| pages=p.1|isbn=0618056866|year=2001] [cite book |title=First World War |publisher=Vintage |pages=p.48 |isbn=0375700455| year=2000|first=John |last=Keegan |authorlink=John Keegan] cite book
title=Introducing Austria: A short history
last=Lonnie Johnson
publisher=Ariadne Press, 270 Goins Court, Riverside, CA 92507

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 Bourbon-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,cite book
title=The Austrians: A thousand-year odyssey
publisher=Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc.; 19 West 21st Street; New York, NY 10010
] 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. [cite news|title =The Crown Prince’s Successor|publisher =New York Times| date =1889-02-02| url =] 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 China" from Yokohama to Vancouver. [ [ "Katalog Land in Sicht!"("Land Ahoy: Austria on the Seven Seas"), p. 8.] Exhibition of the Austrian Mint, August 17, 2005 - February 3, 2006. "Münze Österreich" (Austrian Mint).]

Marriage and 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. (Ironically one of Sophie's direct ancestors was Count Albrecht IV of Habsburg; she was descended from Elisabeth of Habsburg, a sister of King Rudolph I of Germany, while Franz Ferdinard was a descendant of King Rudolph I). 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 Lošinj 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 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 Zákupy) 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'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)

Political views

Politically, Franz Ferdinand was a proponent of granting greater autonomy to all ethnic groups in the Empire, and to address their grievances, especially the Czechs in Bohemia and the Yugoslavic peoples in Croatia and Bosnia, that had been left out of the Austro-Hungarian compromise of 1867. [Frederick Morton. "Thunder At Twilight". Scribner (1989), p. 191.] He also advocated a careful approach towards Serbia - repeatedly locking horns with Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Vienna's hard-line Chief of the General Staff -, warning that harsh treatment of Serbia would bring Austria-Hungary into open conflict with Russia, to the ruin of both Empires.


On June 28, 1914, at approximately 1:15 pm, 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. 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. [Belfield, Richard. "The Assassination Business: A History of State-Sponsored Murder", Carroll & Graf Publishers: New York. ISBN: 0786713437] 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 on route to the hospital. [THE LAST KAISER, p 351, by Giles MacDonogh] 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. [Lonnie Johnson 56]

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 [Remak, Joachim. "Sarajevo" (Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 1959) (pp137 - 142)]

quote| 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.) - Les Gillard.

The Start of World War I

Vienna's initial reaction to the assassination was muted. [Mortion, p. 183.] Franz Ferdinand was not popular either at court or among the populace, and his death posed no threat to the continuation of the Habsburg dynasty. After all, two other monarchs had already been assassinated by members of the Black Hand: Alexander I of Serbia in Belgrade in 1903, and King George I of Greece 1913, just the year before. [Mortion, p. 191.]

Russia and the other Great Powers agreed that Vienna would have to deal with this affront in some way, but Conrad chose to declare war on Serbia. A strong ultimatum, intended to be unacceptable, was delivered to Belgrade on July 23. Serbia acceded to all demands but one: that Austro-Hungarian police be allowed to operate on Serbian territory to apprehend and interrogate conspirators. Vienna was not interested in compromise, and declared war on July 28, just one month after the assassination.

This started the chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I. The Kaiser and the Tsar initially made strenuous efforts to contain the crisis, but once it became clear mobilization could not be stopped, the Kaiser's position hardened significantly. France and Germany mobilized simultaneously. Within a week all major powers had declared war. Fighting began on August 4 when German troops crossed the Belgian frontier.

From today's perspective it would appear that in 1914 all European nations were developing into modern, progressive nations whose social and political problems could be resolved through compromise and legislation. Many, such as Karl Kraus, a Viennese political commentator, warned about the massive social upheavals the war would create. [Mortion, p. 136.] . Others, such as the Kaiser and Emperor Franz Joseph, saw them as inevitable; and still others, such as Hitler, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, saw them as desirable.

Frederick Morton argues the assassination was the trigger for a sociological phenomenon that had been brewing for decades, perhaps since the French Revolution. Beneath Europe's' apparent prosperity lay a population seething with discontent. With rising productivity many European workers felt the fruits of their labors were unfairly going to new capitalists and old aristocracy. People whose families had lived off the land for generations felt their agrarian way of life being threatened by industrialization. Many seemed to share Hitler's view that war would remove barriers between men and make them brothers in arms. According to Morton, once it became clear that war was imminent, many socialists and even pacifists abandoned their antiwar stance and joined the conflict with enthusiasm. It may be that the Great War was an event whose time had come whether Franz Ferdinand was assassinated or not.


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1= 1. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
2= 2. Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria
3= 3. Princess Maria Annunciata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
4= 4. Archduke Franz Karl of Austria
5= 5. Princess Sophie of Bavaria
6= 6. Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
7= 7. Maria Theresa of Austria
8= 8. Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
9= 9. Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies
10= 10. Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria
11= 11. Caroline of Baden
12= 12. Francis I of the Two Sicilies
13= 13. Maria Isabella of Spain
14= 14. Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen
15= 15. Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg
16= 16. Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor
17= 17. Maria Louisa of Spain
18= 18. Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies
19= 19. Marie Caroline of Austria
20= 20. Count Palatine Frederick Michael of Zweibrücken
21= 21. Countess Palatine Maria Franziska of Sulzbach
22= 22. Margrave Charles Louis of Baden
23= 23. Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt
24= 24. Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies
25= 25. Maria Carolina of Austria
26= 26. Charles IV of Spain
27= 27. Maria Luisa of Parma
28= 28. Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor (=16)
29= 29. Maria Louisa of Spain (=17)
30= 30. Frederick William, Duke of Nassau
31= 31. Louise Isabelle of Kirchberg

In Today's Life

Archduke Franz has left such a legacy that his Castle of Artstetten was selected as a main motif for a very recent commemorative coin: the 10 euro The Castle of Artstetten commemorative coin minted in October 13 2004. The reverse shows the entrance to the crypt of the Hohenberg family. There are two portraits to the left, showing Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. The rock band Franz Ferdinand takes its name from him.


External links

* [ Archduke Francis Ferdinand d'Este]
* [ Franz Ferdinand essay]


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