Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lesson for Kids: Facts & Assassination

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

This lesson talks about Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was in line to become emperor of Austria-Hungary in the early 1900s. Find out about his life and how his death changed the history of the world.

Who is Archduke Franz Ferdinand?

If you looked up Archduke Franz Ferdinand in a history book, what you'd be most likely to learn about is his death. That's because the assassination of Ferdinand led to World War I.

But there is more to Ferdinand than how he died. His life story is very interesting, too. In this lesson, we'll discuss his life and death and what happened next!

Early Life and Marriage

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was born on December 18, 1863, in Austria. His father's brother, Emperor Franz Joseph, was the ruler of Austria-Hungary. Franz Ferdinand had lung problems and traveled around the world trying to treat his condition. On many of these trips, he went hunting, something he loved.

The emperor's son and Ferdinand's father both died, putting Ferdinand in line to take over. Ferdinand met Sophie, who was not royalty, and Franz Joseph did not want them to marry. They did in 1900, but only after agreeing that their children could not take over the throne. Ferdinand became a leader in Austria-Hungary's army.

Even though Ferdinand had a temper and was not warm in public, he was a loving father and husband. He and Sophie had three children.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his family
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European Complications

This was a complicated time in Europe. Austria-Hungary formed alliances, or agreements with other countries. Things were especially tense between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. In 1908, Austria-Hungary took over Bosnia, which upset Serbia.

Austria-Hungary had people from many different backgrounds. In 1910, about one-third were German, while many others were Slavs, which includes Poles, Serbs, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, and Slovenes. Franz Ferdinand believed that the government needed to change its policies toward these groups, but his uncle did not agree.

Assassination of Ferdinand

Ferdinand and his wife went to the city of Sarajevo in Bosnia on June 28, 1914. He was supervising army exercises in the area. Ferdinand knew the trip could be dangerous, but went anyway. Remember that this was the area Austria-Hungary had taken over.

People came out to see Ferdinand and his wife in their open car, and there was very little security. In the crowd was a group of men who were part of a secret Serbian organization that did not want Bosnia ruled by Austria-Hungary and that believed in using violence.

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