Skip links

Facts about Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria for Kids


Franz Ferdinand was an Archduke of Austria-Este, Austro-Hungarian and Royal Prince of Hungary and of Bohemia, and from 1889 until his death, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. His assassination in Sarajevo precipitated Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia. He was born in Graz, Austria, the eldest son of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria and of his second wife, Princess Maria Annunciata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies.

  • Despite this burden, he did manage to find time for travel and personal pursuits, such as the time he spent hunting kangaroos and emus in Australia in 1893, and the return trip to Austria sailing across the Pacific on the RMS Empress of China from Yokohama to Vancouver.
  • While never receiving formal staff training, he was considered eligible for command and at one point briefly led the primarily Hungarian 9th Hussar Regiment.
  • Franz in 1913, as heir-presumptive to the elderly emperor, had been appointed inspector general of all the armed forces of Austria-Hungary, a position superior to that previously held by Archduke Albrecht and including presumed command in wartime.
  • In 1894 Franz Ferdinand met Countess Sophie Chotek at a ball in Prague.
  • To be an eligible marriage partner for a member of the Imperial House of Habsburg, one had to be a member of one of the reigning or formerly reigning dynasties of Europe.
  • One of Sophie’s direct ancestors was Albert IV, Count of Habsburg; she was descended from Elisabeth of Habsburg, a sister of King Rudolph I of Germany.
  • Pope Leo XIII, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and the German Emperor Wilhelm II all made representations on his behalf to Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, arguing that the disagreement between Franz Joseph and Franz Ferdinand was undermining the stability of the monarchy.
  • Upon the marriage, Sophie was given the title “Princess of Hohenberg” with the style “Her Serene Highness”.
  • Approximately 100,000 trophies were on exhibit at his Bohemian castle at Konopiště, which he also stuffed with various antiquities, his other great passion.
  • Yet his feelings towards the Hungarians were less generous; he regarded Magyar nationalism as a revolutionary threat to the Habsburg dynasty and reportedly became angry when officers of the 9th Hussars Regiment (which he commanded) spoke Magyar in his presence – despite the fact that it was the official regimental language.
  • After his assassination in 1914, the Navy honored Franz Ferdinand and his wife with a lying in state aboard the SMS Viribus Unitis.
  • After traveling there, Franz and Sophie decided to go to the palace, but their driver took a wrong turn onto a side street, where Princip spotted them.
  • As the car was backing up, Princip approached and shot Sophie in the abdomen and Franz Ferdinand in the jugular.
  • The assassinations, along with the arms race, nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and the alliance system all contributed to the origins of World War I, which began less than two months after Franz Ferdinand’s death, with Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia.