Franz Ferdinand was born on the 18th of December 1863 and was Archduke Karl’s eldest son. Karl was the brother of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph (Doak, 2009). Emperor Franz Joseph’s son Prince Rudolf died in 1889 and Franz Ferdinand’s father died in 1896 leaving Franz Ferdinand as the heir to the throne (Doak, 2009). He was also part of the House of Hapsburg. In 1894, Franz met and fell in love with a woman Sophia Chotek. However, his intentions of marrying her were met with resistance from the Emperor and the royal family. This is because Sophia was a commoner and thus regarded not fit to marry Franz. To be granted permission to marry his love, Franz had to give up his children’s rights to the throne. They finally married in 1900.
In 1914, Franz was invited to Bosnia to inspect troops of the Austrian-Hungarian army. He accepted the invitation and was accompanied by his wife Sophia to Sarajevo the capital of Bosnia. At that time, Balkan politics were volatile and Franz was warned against visiting the area but he dismissed the warnings. Terrorist activities in the area were led by a nationalist organization known as the “Black Hand” and they were determined to terrorize the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The royal couple arrived in Sarajevo on 28th of June 1914 and traveled through the city in a motorcade headed for official reception. While in the entourage, a grenade was thrown at them by a person from the crowd (Doak, 2009). Fortunately, the couple escaped unhurt but the archduke’s party was injured and rushed to the hospital. Later in the day, Franz decided to visit the injured in hospital. While on his way there, Princip who was a nationalist attacked and shot at Sophie and Franz leaving them dead. This assassination came as an opportunity for Austria-Hungary hardliners to assert their authority over Serbia. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, which led to Russia declaring war on Austria-Hungary, Germany declaring war on Russia and Britain and France declaring war on Germany and Austria-Hungary thus precipitating started the World War I (Doak, 2009).

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  • Doak, R. (2009). Assassination at Sarajevo. Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books.