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Aftermath of the Assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand

One of the sad things for me is that even in death the insults and snubs to the Archduke’s wife Sofie continued. Alfred, 2nd Prince of Montenuovo, Emperor Franz Joseph’s Chamberlain, hated Franz Ferdinand and Sophie passionately and decided to turn the funeral into a massive and vicious snub. Foreign royalty had been invited to the funeral and planned to attend. Generally when an heir to the throne had passed away there were would be a large funeral attended by many royal heads of state. However, on this occasion they were pointedly dis-invited and a much smaller funeral planned with just the immediate imperial family, with the dead couple’s three children excluded from the few public ceremonies. The officer corps was forbidden to salute the funeral train, and this led to a minor revolt led by Archduke Karl, the new heir to the throne. The public viewing of the coffins was curtailed severely and even more scandalously, Montenuovo tried unsuccessfully to make the children foot the bill. Also during the viewing the Archduke’s coffin was set higher than Sofie’s to remind all that she was not an equal to her husband. The Archduke and Duchess were interred at Artstetten Castle because his wife could not be buried at the Imperial Crypt.

Of course the largest aftermath was War. However, I wanted to share what happened to the assassin, Gavrilo Princip. Like his fellow assassin Čabrinović who tried to swallow the cyanide pill but vomited instead, Princip had the same experience with his cyanide pill. It seems they had purchased stale cyanide that was out of date. Princeip was arrested and in October of 1914 was convicted of his part in the murder of the Archduke and his wife. Princip was too young to receive the death penalty, being only twenty-seven days short of the 20-year age limit required by Habsburg law for the death sentence. Instead, he received the maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. He was held in harsh conditions and squalor which were worsened by the war as supplies went to the war effort. While in prison he contracted tuberculosis. He died on April 28, 1918 at Terezín 3 years and 10 months after he assassinated the Archduke and Duchess. At the time of his death, Princip, weakened by malnutrition and disease, weighed around 40 kilograms (88 lb; 6 st 4 lb). His body had become racked by skeletal tuberculosis that ate away his bones so badly that his right arm had to be amputated. Now I am not happy that this man assassinated the Archduke and Duchess, but his treatment in prison was inhumane.

As the saying goes “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”? He’s their freedom fighter. Well in Serbia Princip is still regarded as a national hero and on the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke and Duchess Bosnian Serbs erected a statue of Gavrilo Princip.

War broke out on July 28th, 1914 when Austria fired the first shots in its invasion of Serbia. Russia mobilized against Germany, while Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, causing Britain to declare war on Germany. Closer to July 28th I will focus on what the three emperors, Franz-Joseph of Austria-Hungary, Nicholas II of Russia and Wilhelm II of Germany, did to either prevent or encourage the war.