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Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria

Archduke Franz Ferdinand (right) with family.
Image from Photos of the Great War.

Franz Ferdinand (sometimes called Francis Ferdinand in English) (July 18, 1863 - June 28, 1914) was born in Graz, Styria and was the Habsburg Archduke of Austria and heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. His assassination by Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo, Austrian-occupied Bosnia-Herzegovina, precipitated the Austrian proclamation of war against Serbia which triggered World War I.

A nephew of the Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria and next in line to the crown following the suicide of his cousin Crown Prince Rudolph at Mayerling (January 30, 1889) and the death of his father Carl Ludwig (May 19, 1896). His marriage (July 1, 1900) to the (relatively low-ranking) Countess Sophie Chotek (henceforth Duchess of Hohenburg) was permitted only after the couple had agreed that the bride would not enjoy royal status and their children would have no claims to the throne. Franz Josef did not attend the wedding.

Franz Ferdinand alienated many sections of Austro-Hungarian political opinion, including Hungarian nationalists who opposed his advocacy of manhood suffrage which would undermine Magyar domination in the Hungarian kingdom, both supporters and opponents of the Empire's existing dualist structure suspicious of his idea for a third Croat-dominated Slav kingdom including Bosnia and Herzegovina as a bulwark against what was perceived in Vienna's hausplatz as Serbian irredentism, and non-Catholics and anticlericalists angered by his patronage (April 22, 1900) of the Catholic Schools Association.

No evidence has been found to support suggestions that his low-security visit to Sarajevo was arranged by elements within Austro-Hungarian official circles with the intention of exposing him to the risk of assassination so as to remove a potentially troublesome royal personage from the scene.