How the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Unfolded | History Hit

How the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Unfolded

History Hit

First World War Twentieth Century
HISTORYHIT.TV A new online only channel for history lovers

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was assassinated during a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia.

The day was already a significant one. For the archduke, it marked his wedding anniversary and a rare time that the emperor would allow him to be seen in public with his commoner wife, Sophie. But for many Bosnian Serbs, the archduke’s visit to their country – which had been formally annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908 – was a far less happy occasion.

The plotters

Dan talks to Michael Neiburg, a leading historian of the transnational effects of war, who reveals everything you need to know about America's entry into World War One.Listen Now

Opposition to the Austro-Hungarian annexation had given rise to the formation of Young Bosnia, a predominantly student revolutionary movement made up mostly of Bosnian Serbs, but also Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats. It was a cohort within this group who plotted the assassination of the archduke.

As Franz and his wife drove through Sarajevo in an open-top car, the plotters were waiting for him. The first two would-be assassins failed to act, but the third, a man named Nedeljko Čabrinović, threw a bomb at the car. The bomb missed its target, however, bouncing off the hood of the archduke’s car and exploding behind it, injuring 20 bystanders.

Gavrilo Princip fires at the archduke and his wife.

Afterwards, Čabrinović attempted suicide, first taking a cyanide tablet that proved a dud and then throwing himself into a river only to find it was just four inches deep. He was then caught by an angry mob and almost beaten to death before being taken into custody.

The second assassination attempt

The outraged archduke proceeded to a town hall meeting before setting off to visit the hospitalised victims of Čabrinović’s attack. En route to the hospital, his driver took a wrong turn into Franz Josef Street where another of the plotters, Gavrilo Princip, happened to be sitting in a café.

Gavrilo Princip was just 19 when he killed Franz Ferdinand and his wife.

Princip, a 19-year-old Croat previously rejected from joining Serbian guerrilla bands in the First Balkan War due to his small stature, was determined to prove himself. As the archduke’s car backed out of the street, he seized his chance and opened fire.

Sophie, who was shot first, was struck in the abdomen, while Franz was hit in the neck. As his crying wife lay dying, the archduke cried out to her, “Don’t die darling, live for our children” – but shortly after they were both dead.

The aftermath

Although we remember it predominantly for its involvement in several conflicts during the medieval period, Edinburgh Castle’s history stretches some 3,000 years, from prehistoric times right up to the present day.Watch Now

Too young to face the death penalty, Princip was tried for the murders and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He died in 1918 from a combination of malnutrition and tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, although the 19-year-old and his fellow conspirators attempted to deflect blame for the killings away from Serbia, the assassination of the archduke was viewed as a provocation by the Austro-Hungarians. Exactly one month later, the empire declared war on Serbia.

Tags: Franz Ferdinand

History Hit