TRIVIA TRAIL # 18: THE START OF WW I

Archduke Franz Ferdinand & His Wife Sophie

Question: What famous couple were assassinated on their fourteenth wedding anniversary?
Answer: The Austro-Hungarian heir-apparent, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo, Serbia on June 28th, 1914. They were there to inspect the armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had been annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. Serbian nationalists, however, thought Bosnia and Herzegovina should join Serbia, and they much resented the annexation. The fact that Franz Ferdinand had referred to Serbians as “those pigs”, probably didn’t help the populace welcome him with open arms either. While the royal couple were riding in an open car, two attempts were made on their lives. The first was a bomb thrown by Nedjelko Cabrinovic. It hit the back of the car and then rolled off, wounding a soldier and some bystanders. Further on a second attempt was made, this one successful. Nineteen-year-old Gavrilo Princip fired a handgun at the couple at point-blank range, fatally wounding both of them.
The Austro-Hungarians weren’t overly fond of Franz Ferdinand, and pretty much loathed Sophie, but the assassination provided an excellent excuse to invade Serbia, which they’d been wanting to do for a while. A month later, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and within a week, the obligation to support political allies and the desire to defend or promote their own interests brought many other countries into the conflict that would become World War One. Germany almost immediately went in on the side of Austria-Hungary, and was later joined by Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. They had Romania for a while, too, but halfway through, it changed sides. The Serbian cause was quickly taken up by Russia, France (and its colonies), Belgium, Great Britain (and its colonies), Montenegro, and Japan, not-so-quickly by Portugal and Italy, and eventually by the United States of America, Greece, Brazil, China, and Liberia . Other Allies were: Bolivia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, the Hejaz, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Poland, Siam, and Uruguay.

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