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 Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia. This caused countries allied with Austria-Hungary (Mitteleuropa) and countries allied with Serbia (the Entente Powers) to declare war on each other, starting the Weltkrieg.
He was born in Graz, Austria, the eldest son of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria 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 parts of the Ottoman Empire, including Egypt, Palestine, Syria and lebanon. 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
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 Hapsburg; she was descended from Elisabeth von Hapsburg 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. 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 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 Nikolai 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 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 with the style Her Serene Highness. In 1909, she was given the more senior title Duchess of Hohenberg (Herzogin von Hohenberg) with the style Her Highness. 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.
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. The event, known as the Assassination in Sarajevo, led to a chain of events that eventually triggered the Weltkrieg. 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 the Weltkrieg, which began less than two months after Franz Ferdinand's death, with Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia.