Birth name, Francis Ferdinand was born December 18, 1863 in Graz, Austria to parents Archduke Karl Ludwig and Princess Annunciata. He was the first born to the Archduke and presumptive heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire. He did not have much of a childhood. Most of his education came from private tutors. He joined the Austro-Hungarian army at the young age of 12.
Due to joining the military at such a young age, Francis moved very rapidly through ranks and became captain at 22, colonel by 27, and general at the age of 31. Despite his hectic career, he found enjoyment in traveling and hunting. He traveled to many different places all over the world, China, Hong Kong, Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Sarawak, New Hebrides. He reportedly had 300,000 game kills. He also enjoyed collecting antiques.
Love and Marriage:
In 1894, Francis met Countess Sophie Chotek. It was love at first sight and he fell madly in love with her. For Francis to marry, he must marry someone from a reigning or formerly reigning dynasty of Europe. Sophie was not. Francis's uncle, Franz Joseph had then forbade him to marry her. This didn't stop them from still falling in love, and wanting to be married. With the help of European leaders Pope Leo XIII, Tsar Nicholas II, and Emperor Wilhelm II, they convinced Franz to let them be married on the condition that any descendant from Franz (Francis) and Sophie that they could not succeed the throne. On July 1, 1900, the two married. They ended up having three kids.
Tragedy and Throne:
Franz is a member of the House of Hapsburg, the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Spanish Empire. When he was born, he was only presumptive heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His cousin Prince Rudolf was first in line for throne. In 1889, he commits suicide. Leaving Franz's father to be first in line. A dramatic twist of fate, Franz's father, Karl Ludwig, dies of Typhoid in 1896. This leaving Franz heir to the throne.
Trouble with Serbia:
May 1903, Serbian military storm the Serbian Royal Palace. Capturing many and killing King Alexander and Queen Draga. Peter I was then made King of Serbia. With a more nationalistic dynasty, Serbia was friendlier to Russian and less friendly with Austria-Hungary. Over the next decade, many disputes broke out between Serbia and its neighbors. A customs dispute broke out between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. This was known as the Pig War. Serbia was not very happy when Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. This made Serbia Nationalists take matters into their own hands. Over a period of 5 years, lone assassins went out and made attempted assassinations in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina against Austria-Hungarian officials.
Due to the deaths of Karl Ludwig and Prince Rudolf, Franz was now heir to throne and was appointed Inspector General of the Austria-Hungary military. His uncle, Franz Joseph ordered Franz to go watch his troops military exercises in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. He knew the trip would be dangerous, but he still took his wife Sophie with him. Upon learning of Franz's visit, a secret society of Young Bosnians plotted his assassination. They traveled to Belgrade, Serbia and received bombs, semi-automatic pistols, and cyanide suicide capsules. With the help of the Black Hand terrorist group, they smuggled their weapons across the border to Bosnia-Herzegovina. On June 28, 1914, the day that sparked WWI, Franz and Sophie are in the motorcade going down Appel Quay, the main avenue in Sarajevo. Stationed along Appel Quay, are the seven Bosnian assassins. One of the assassins threw a bomb at the car Franz and Sophie were in, but the bomb bounced off and rolled under another car in the motorcade. There was an explosion, and the car with Franz and Sophie along with two other cars in the motorcade, drive onto a side street. This side street is where Franz and Sophie met death. An assassin fires two shots, point-blank range. They hit Franz in the neck and Sophie in the abdomen. Within the minutes, they both pass away. Leaving their three kids orphans.
Life lived- Francis Ferdinand's legacy:
Francis Ferdinand may not be known all that well. His death is what sparked WWI. Austria-Hungary declared war one month after his death. His legacy lives with those who died in WWI. Over 38 million soldiers and civilians. The building next to where the assassin who killed Franz and Sophie was turned into a museum. (Located in Sarajevo, Bosnia.) The spot where the assassin stood, has been marked with footprints and a plaque on the corner of the building. He carries his legacy through his three kids, Sophie, Maximilian, Ernst. Not many people know about Archduke Francis Ferdinand. His life and death is overshadowed by WWI and WWII. He was a good leader. He was a caring man, he loved his family. I hope as time goes on, we begin to appreciate his life more. Appreciate what he has done.