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Franz Ferdinand

A memorial card for Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie von Hohenberg, the couple framed in circle with roses, within a secessionist frame surmounted by the Hapsburg eagle. A trompe l'oeil plaque reads,
'O, edles Reis aus Habsburgs möcht 'gern Stämme
Wie grünest du so mächtig fort!'

'Oh, noble branch of the Habsburg tree,
How did you grow so powerfully!'
Beneath all this the date of their murders, June 28, 1914.

A memorial card for Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie von Hohenberg, the couple in a secessionist frame surmounted by the Hapsburg eagle. They were killed June 28, 1914.

Image text

O, edles Reis aus Habsburgs möcht 'gern Stämme

Wie grünest du so mächtig fort!



Oh, noble branch of the Habsburg tree,

How did you grow so powerfully!



June 28, 1914

The nephew of Kaiser Franz Joseph, Franz Ferdinand became heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary after the suicide of his cousin Franz Joseph's son, and the death of his father, the emperor's brother. His assassination in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina by Garvilo Princip on June 28, 1914, led to Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia one month later.

Franz Ferdinand favored a policy towards Bosnia-Herzegovina which might have led to greater autonomy, such as that enjoyed by Hungary, and assuaged anti-Austro-Hungarian sentiment in the province. This made him an enemy of those who sought a Serbia enlarged by Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Franz Ferdinand had a poor relationship with Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Chief of Staff of the Austro-Hungarian Army. Had he lived, Franz Ferdinand might well have acted to prevent war.

In the eyes of the Habsburg court, the Archduke had married beneath his station - outside of the families that reigned or had reigned in Europe. Emperor Franz Joseph tried to dissuade the Archduke from marrying Countess Sophie Chotek, but eventually allowed the marriage on the condition that it be morganatic: their children would not be heirs to the throne. She would not share her husband's rank, nor be treated as his equal. At imperial events, the couple were separated. Neither Emperor Franz Joseph not the Archduke's brothers attended the couple's wedding.

Because Franz Ferdinand traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina for military maneuvers in his capacity of inspector general of the armed forces, his wife was able to travel with him and be received as she would not have been in Vienna.

In death, the couple were treated as in life. His larger coffin was elevated above hers. Because they had insisted on being buried together, they were not given an imperial funeral, and were not buried in the imperial crypt in Vienna. Their remains lie in their castle in Artstettin, Austria.

December 18, 1863

June 28, 1914

Austria-Hungary

Roles held by Franz Ferdinand

Role Start Date End Date
Heir to the Throne 1889-01-30 1914-06-28