ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND 1863-1914
Franz Ferdinand was heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary, and it was his assassination in June 1914 that precipitated the outbreak of hostilities.Prior to his death, Franz Ferdinand had considered various schemes to give the Slavic peoples of the empire greater political representation.
Among other things, he explored the concept of a 'United States of Austria' and the replacement of Austro-Hungarian 'dualism' with a form of 'trialism'. It is one of history's great ironies that Princip and the Black Hand assassinated the one Hapsburg who was genuinely concerned with attempts to re-think Austria-Hungary's relations with its ethnic minorities in an effort to create a peaceful association of nationalities under the flag of the Dual Monarchy.
However, such schemes were abandoned following his death on 28 June 1914, and Europe was plunged into four years of carnage. His nephew succeeded him as Austria-Hungary's heir apparent.