Archduke Franz Ferdinand


General Information
Family name: Hapsburg

Heir to the Austrian Throne:
Third in line to the throne at one point, he became heir through two untimely deaths. The first was of the Emperor's son, Crown Prince Rudolph, who killed himself (and his sixteen year old mistress) in 1889. The second was the death of his father, Archduke Charles Louis, in 1896. Now it was Franz Ferdinand that would be next in line for the Crown.

Considered more flexible in matters of military and domestic affairs than his uncle Emperor Franz Josef, he was a reformist with new ideas to be put into practice when he ascended to the Hapsburg throne. One of these ideas was "trialism" - the reorganization of the dual monarchy into a triple monarchy by giving the Slavs an equal voice in the empire. This would put them on an equal footing with the Magyars and Germans living inside the Austro-Hungarian borders. These politics were in direct conflict with those of the Serbian nationalists.

Personal: Much has been said about Franz Ferdinand and very little of it good. He has been referred to as a miser, a bigot, and a spoiled child. Shunned by the elite of Viennese society, he was also called "the loneliest man in Vienna". He lacked the two key elements for success in this social scene - charm and elegance. His home life appears to have been surprisingly better. His marriage to Countess Sophia von Chotkowa und Wognin, Duchess of Hohenburg in 1900 was called one of the world's great love affairs. Unfortunately the Emperor considered the Duchess a commoner and tried to convince Franz Ferdinand he was marrying beneath his station. They went through with the marriage against the Emperor's wishes but had to renounce rights of rank and succession for their children. In the years to come, Sophie would not be allowed to ride in the same car with her husband during affairs of state.

Fate: The Archduke and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo on 28-Jun-1914 (their fourteenth wedding anniversary) by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. The Archduke's role of Inspector General of the Austrian army had brought him to Sarajevo for the summer maneuvers. Neither Emperor Franz Josef or the Kaiser saw fit to attend the funeral.

Additional Photos of the Archduke

"What is the good of your speeches? I come to Sarajevo on a visit, and I get bombs thrown at me. It is outrageous!"
The Archduke interrupting the Mayor's speech at City Hall in Sarajevo

"Sophie dear, Sophie dear, don't die! Stay alive for our children."
The Archduke's last words