Book Reviews

Review: Assassination of the Archduke by Greg King and Sue Woolmans


My Interest

The Habsburgs are a royal family about which I know too little.  Plus the story sounds like something from today.

Embed from Getty Images

The Story

Austro-Hungarian Emporer Franz Joseph, like Britain’s Queen Elizabeth today, was the only Emporer most of his people had ever known. He reigned so long that he outlived a number of heirs to his throne–including, sadly, his only son. That made his nephew, Franz Ferdinand, his heir. Sadly, too, Franz Ferdinand was not as popular as the late Crown Prince Rudolph. People talked badly about FF. Even worse, his wife had been a lady-in-waiting. That is, she was a well-born woman, aristocratic even, but not of the “blood royal” that a Habsburg had to marry. FF’s wife Sophie, endured all kinds of rude comments, plots against here and general bad press.

Embed from Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but I’m hearing Meghan Markle as well as poor King George VI coming to the throne after his golden-boy brother, Edward VIII! See, I thought this would be relevant today! If there had been social media today, Sophie would be the one with all the interesting conspiracy theories floating around on Twitter, Tumblr and the blogosphere. But without the adoration accorded to Prince Harry to help her–FF was no Harry.

Embed from Getty Images

Fast forward three children (and a forth stillborn) to St. Vitas Day (June 28) 1914 in Sarejavo located in a territory “annexed” into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Local terrorists/heroes (depending on which side you take) killed FF and Sophie as they “violated” St. Vitas Day/made a ceremonial visit. This was the incident that Started WWI. And, the terrorist/heroes went on to murder, rape and wage the war that destroys Sarajevo in the 1990s.

The plotting of this deed reminded me of some of those farthest-out-there Diana fans after her death. Well, that was a pretty accurate thought! After poor FF/Sophie died, Emporer Franz Joseph, was excited some said. He certainly didn’t go out of his way to mourn. There was barely a funeral.  Various factions in Vienna as well as among the Bosnians were GLAD FF was dead. You see, FF was a reformer! He wanted CHANGE! Yes, indeed! He wanted more for the empire than waltzes and Linzer Torte! While not the “People’s Prince” by any means, he had some really strong backing that the Emporer did not like.

Unlike William and Harry who were showered with love by their country, Sophie [daughter named for her mother], Max and Ernst were left orphans about whom Austria cared little and Uncle Franz Joe almost not at all. Due to their mother’s unequal status they could not inherit the throne, either. So, Franz Joe had to designate yet another heir. The trio of orphans WERE loved by other realtives though–I suppose those would be there so-called “Blood Family” [like Earl Spencer shouted at Diana’s funeral]. Unfortunately a fanatic who hated the Habsburgs almost as much as he hated the Jews would cause further chaos and trauma in their lives in a few years.

My Verdict

This book was very accessible to soemone knowning next-to-nothing about the Habsburgs. I was amazed by the story–espeically the true love that FF and Sophie truly had for each other.


The assassination of the Archduke: Sarjave 1914 and the Romance That Changed The World by Greg King and Sue Woolmans

Embed from Getty Images

2 thoughts on “Review: Assassination of the Archduke by Greg King and Sue Woolmans

  1. Thank you for your very kind review. I’m glad you liked our book. It has always seemed to me that the story of Franz Ferdinand, Sophie and their descendants is far more tragic than that of the Romanovs. I have unbounded admiration for Franz Ferdinand, and his dying words, “Sophie, Sophie, live for our children!” just for me define the sort of person he was

    Liked by 1 person

I enjoy reading your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s