The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. This image was taken minutes before the fatal shots were fired.
Franz Ferdinand (18 December 1863-28 June 1914) was the Heir-presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was married to Sophie, the Duchess of Hohenberg and together they had three children. On Sunday, 28 June 1914, while observing military manoeuvres in Sarajevo, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Franz and his wife were shot dead. Their assassin was 19 year old Gavrilo Princip; a member of Young Bosnia which consisted of Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian men opposed to Austro-Hungarian rule over the south Slavic regions of the Empire. The assignation was organised by a secret military society formed by Serbian army officers called The Black Hand. It was hoped that this act of terror would free all southern Slavs from Austro-Hungarian rule. However, the assassination forced the Empire to demand, among other things, that Austro-Hungary be permitted to conduct their own investigation on Serbian soil. This became known as the July Ultimatum. Viewing this as a threat to their national sovereignty Serbia refused. As a result, having gained unconditional support from Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. This set the European alliance system in motion splitting the major powers into two sides: The Central Powers; Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Triple Entente; France, Russia and, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.