Saturday, June 28, 2014

One hundred years ago today...

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his beloved wife, Sophie, were shot to death by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. I have to admit, before reading Greg King's and Sue Woolman's excellent book, The Assassination of the Archduke, all I really knew about Franz Ferdinand was that his assassination precipitated the First World War. But now I have a much clearer idea of the kind of man he was and what the world was like on that fateful day he died.

Vladimir Dedijer wrote that "No other political murder in modern history has had such momentous consequences." What led up to it? That's what this book tries to explain, but it does more than that; it also focuses on the personal lives of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie. "This is the story of the couple's romance and marriage; it is also the story of how the public and the imperial court saw them...and how these views often conflicted with reality." It also tells the story of their three children: Sophie, Max and Ernst.

There's no way I can sum up Franz Ferdinand's life or the intrigues and conflicts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in a few sentences. So I'm not even going to try. If you're interested in the Hapsburgs during this time period, or this particular event in history, this is a good book to read. It's well-researched, thoughtfully written, and gives a fair portrayal of the Archduke and his morganatic wife.
"A hundred years have passed since that fateful Sunday morning in Sarajevo. No newsreels captured those pivotal few seconds in human history...yet the unseen ripples from those moments continue today. The bullets Princip fired did more than kill Franz Ferdinand and Sophie or leave their children orphaned; they inaugurated a century of enormous upheaval and mass slaughter on a scale previously unknown. No other two deaths can have served as the tipping point that led to so much misery and loss."


  1. This sounds really interesting! I learnt a little about Franz Ferdinand at school and how his assassination caused the First World War, so it'd be interesting to learn more about him. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


    1. It's a really good book...informative, yet not boring. And it offered some great insight about what went wrong 100 years ago. Thanks for stopping by!