Francis Ferdinand (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: As heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Francis Ferdinand attempted to uphold the authority of the Hapsburg dynasty and deal with the nationalities issue that threatened the integrity of the empire. The assassination of the archduke and his wife in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist served as the immediate spark for the outbreak of World War I.
Francis Ferdinand was born in Graz, Austria, the eldest son of Archduke Carl Ludwig, younger brother to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph. Trained for a military career, Francis Ferdinand rose to the position of inspector general of the army; the deaths of the only son of Franz Joseph, Crown Prince Rudolf, in 1889 by suicide and of Carl Ludwig in 1896 opened the way for the rise of Francis Ferdinand into the position of heir to the throne. As archduke, he was never a popular figure. While intelligent, he lacked the culture and style so essential for success in prewar Austrian politics and society. Francis Ferdinand’s short temper and suspicious nature contributed further to his lack of popularity.
Francis Ferdinand was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1895, and his poor health seemed to suggest that he might not live to take the throne. His brother Otto was seen by many as a more probable successor. In 1900, the archduke married Countess Sophie Chotek over the objections of Emperor Franz Joseph. The old emperor did not get on well...
(The entire section is 1916 words.)
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