June 28, 1914 – Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

On this day in history, France Ferdinand, Archduke of Austro-Hungary and heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, along with his wife Sophie, were shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Although some facile accounts of the origins of World War I ascribe the cause of the war to this one event, the reality was much more complex. As Max Hastings argues in his book Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War (see our review here), Austria only used the assassination as a pretext to invade Serbia. The fact is that the Archduke was the one man in the Austrian government committed to avert a European war. Nevertheless, to paraphrase Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address, the war came.

Franz Ferdinand & Sophie arrive in Sarajevo, 6/28/1914

Franz Ferdinand & Sophie arrive in Sarajevo, 6/28/1914

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