Who was Franz Ferdinand?
Who: Heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne and part of the House of Hapsburg.
Why is he important? : His assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 by Serbian terrorists was a factor in the outbreak of the First World War.
Born: 18 December 1863
Died: 28 June 1914
Place of birth: Graz, Austria
Family: He was the eldest of son of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria and Princess Maria Annunciata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. He married Sophie, Duchess of Hohenburg in 1900; she was assassinated along with Franz Ferdinand. They had three children.
Franz Ferdinand began his military career at the early age of 12 and was quickly promoted through the ranks, becoming a Major General by the age of 31. In 1889 his cousin, and heir to the throne, Crown Prince Rudolf died by suicide. This left Franz’s father first in line for the throne. Karl Ludwig renounced his throne in favour of Franz Ferdinand almost immediately and died of typhoid fever in 1896. Franz Ferdinand was thus groomed to inherit the throne.
He met his wife, a lady-in-waiting, in 1864. Their desire to marry created tensions with the Emperor and Court as she was not a member of a reigning royal family. Only after renouncing his future children’s rights to the throne was the marriage allowed.
Throughout his life, he tried to repair Austro-Russian relations and maintain an alliance with Germany.
He was assassinated on 28 June 1914 by Serbian teenager Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia.