Francis Ferdinand was born in Graz, Austria in 1863. His father is Archduke Charles Louis. He received the title archduke of Austria-Este in 1875. Francis became heir to the thrown after two deaths in the family. The first was the death of his cousin, Crown Prince Rudolf, who killed himself and his sixteen year old mistress in 1889, and the second was the death of his father in 1896. Ferdinand was a reformist with his new political ideas. As stated in the website “The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand” by Michael Shackelford, “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 political views were against the beliefs of those people in the Serbian nationalists.
On June 28, 1914, the archduke’s fourteenth wedding anniversary, Ferdinand decided to take a special trip with his wife, Sophie, to Sarajevo. Usually Sophie was not allowed to ride in the same vehicle as her husband, but on their anniversary she would be given all the royal treatment, including being allowed to ride in the same car as her husband.
The members of the assassins group were all members of the Serbian nationalist movement Mlada Bosna. There were seven people in this group and their ages ranged from nineteen to twenty-seven. These assassins received their training and weapons from a Belgrade terrorist league. They returned to Sarajevo with pistols, bombs, and cyanide to wait for the arrival of the archduke. The archduke had received several warnings to stay away from Sarajevo, but Ferdinand ignored the threats and even told the Austrian army to stay out of the city for the day. By 10:00 a.m. the archduke and his wife were headed toward city hall. On their way they had to cross the Miljacka River at Cumuria Bridge. This is where first assassin was waiting to throw a bomb at the archduke, but he did not throw his bomb claiming the police were blocking his path. The second assassins view was not blocked and he threw his bomb at the archduke’s car. The bomb was headed straight for the archduke but he saw it coming and deflected it out into the streets. The explosion from the bomb wounded Sophie’s face, passengers in the third car of their motorcade, and several other bystanders. After throwing the bomb the assassin tried to drink the cyanide he brought but it was old and all it did was make him sick.
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He was quickly seized and arrested. The archduke continued his journey to city hall. At city hall Ferdinand confronted the mayor saying he came to Sarajevo to visit and is greeted with explosions, but the mayor, who did not know about the bomb continued on with his welcoming speech. Immediately following the activities at city hall Ferdinand wanted to go to the hospital to check on the victims wounded by the bomb. He wanted to travel to the hospital alone but Sophie insisted on going with him. On route to the hospital they passed the sixth assassin would did not do anything except stare at them as they drove by. The chauffeur of the archduke’s vehicle made a wrong turn. Upon realizing this he slammed on his brakes not five feet from Gavrilo Princip, the fifth assassin. Princip realized they made the wrong turn and acted quickly and pulled out a pistol and fired two shots into the vehicle. The couple at first appeared to be unhurt, but upon closer look Ferdinand was hit in the neck and Sophie was hit in the stomach. Both were dead by 11:30 that morning. Ferdinand’s last words to Sophie were for her to stay alive for their children. Princip tried to turn the pistol on himself but the gun was knock out of his hand by the crowd. Then Princip tried to swallow the cyanide poison but it had the same effect on him as it did the second assassin and just made him violently ill. He too, like the second assassin was taken into custody alive. By July fifth all the assassins but one were apprehended. The only fact that tied Serbia to the murders was that the weapons were purchased there. After an official Austrian investigation it was concluded that the Serbian government did not know anything about the conspiracy to murder the archduke.
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The murders of Ferdinand and Sophie brought the tension between Austria and the Serbs to full alert. These double murders broke the “last straw” between these two groups and this prepared both of them for an all out face-off. The stakes outgrew the altercation between Austria and Serbia. The other powers in Europe started taking side and just thirty days after Ferdinand and Sophie were shot the Austrian-Serbs crisis turned into a world war.