Did the Killing of Archduke Franz Lead to World War 1 - A Circumstantial Study


The Visit of Archduke and His Death -

In 1914 the then Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie was on a visit to Bosnian capital city of Sarajevo. 

Earlier Bosnia and Herzegovina were annexed by the Austro Hungarian Empire in 1908. Though there was a nationalistic wave in the Serbian region, the more powerful Austrian forces took control over the Bosnian territory.

The troops were stationed at Sarajevo the then Bosnian capital and Archduke was on an official visit to see how the Imperial forces are working. But then after he arrived at Sarajevo, he faced a bullet attack that he avoided but couldn’t bypass the attack by Gavrillo Princip, a Serbian nationalist. 

The Archduke was shot at point-blank range when he was travelling in his car and his security personnel couldn’t do much to save him. After this incident, the Austrian empire got angry after receiving the news and attacked Serbia with its army upon garnering support from the German government.

Post Death Circumstances and Renewed Political Tension -

After this incident, they attacked Russia, a Serbian ally. Then they invaded France and this event triggered the start of World War I. Britain, on the other hand, got involved in the whole situation only after France was invaded.

This War went on for four years and resulted in the killing of around a million lives. Rising industrial growth with limited natural resources led to the territorial expansion of European nations to create overseas colonies in many regions like Africa, at the start of the 20th century.

Similarly, the rise of nationalism also created some problems in the European continent that also can be thought of a possible reason behind the conflict. 

In 1870, in the Franco Prussian war, France lost to their German rivals and lost money as well as land that left a revenge motive working in the minds of the French leaders.

Also in the Serbian case, we saw Serbian nationalist created the chaos by targeting the Archduke and leading to War. There was also a geopolitical alliance working between different nations that also increased the chances of a bigger regional conflict in making.

Geopolitical Alliances Across Europe Leading to Rising Tensions -

In 1879, the German and Austro Hungarian empire created an alliance. In 1882, Italy joined the alliance by creating the famous Triple alliance.

In response to this alliance, France joined Russia as an ally. Great Britain also responded by joining the alliance in 1907 to strengthen the polarisation of the European political landscape.

The central powers were Germany, Italy and Austria; their counterparts were Britain, Russia and France. The rivalry continued with time to time and sometimes the contention became fiercer. 

Another element that we should keep in mind is the rise of military expenditure in different European countries. This was mainly done to protect their country from any kind of external attack.

Militarism Across Europe on the Rise -

Russia and Britain increased its military expenditure manifold to give a strong message to their opponents in the European context. On the other hand, the most surprising jump in military expenditure was done by the German empire as they increased at least 79% of their existing spending capacity.

The whole increased militarism also can be thought of as an intriguing reason behind the happening of world war. Between 1910-1914 all the major European states literally remained in an arm’s race, they already had military draft plans but it was now more aggressive.

They were busy acquiring new weapons and developing large troops. Germany was also competing with Great Britain in making a great naval fleet. Their competition was so huge that Germans brought superior dreadnoughts to compete with the British naval fleet.

Militarism, Nationalism and Rising Economic Affluence and War -

In this way, the military supremacy went onto touch newer heights in the European contexts fuelling by new grown Nationalistic trends and ever-growing imperialistic aspirations. 

We can only say that only the death of the Archduke can be said a trigger point that ultimately led the war to happen but there was tension brewing in the region between different groups.

Narrow nationalistic tendencies related to strong native cultural influence like Gavrillo Pipric also took a vital role in diluting the apparent peaceful condition of the European continent. The war that started in 1914 ended in the year 1919 when Germany and it’s allies signed the Treaty of Versailles. 

Written by - Bodhiswatta Mukherjee
Edited by - Ivanova


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