Franz Josef I
After the death of Crown Prince Rudolf, Franz Joseph’s nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, became heir to the throne. On 28 June 1914, Franz Ferdinand and his morganatic wife, Countess Sophie Chotek, were assassinated on a visit to Sarajevo. When he heard the news of the assassination, Franz Joseph said that “one has not to defy the Almighty. In this manner a superior power has restored that order which I unfortunately was unable to maintain.” While the emperor was shaken, and interrupted his vacation in order to return to Vienna, he soon resumed his vacation to his imperial villa at Bad Ischl. With the emperor five hours away from the capital, most of the decision-making during the “July Crisis” fell to Count Leopold Berchtold, the Austrian foreign minister, Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, the chief of staff for the Austrian army, and the rest of the ministers. On 21 July, Franz Joseph was apparently surprised by the severity of the ultimatum that was to be sent to the Serbs, and expressed his concerns that Russia would be unwilling to stand idly by, yet he nevertheless chose to not question Berchtold’s judgment. A week after the ultimatum, on 28 July, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and two days later, the Austro-Hungarians and the Russians went to war. Within weeks, the French and British entered the fray. Because of his age, Franz Joseph was unable to take as much as an active part in the war in comparison to past conflicts.