While there is never just a single event that has led to the start of a world war, or any other serious war, there is often one thing that triggers long lived tensions and thus war ensues. Such was the case in WWI with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. There were many tensions that existed prior to his assassination, but it was his assassination which triggered the war, his assassination that served as an excuse, and perhaps the last straw, so to speak, which led to the First World War. The following paper examines the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and its relationship to the start of WWI.
Under the rule at the time of the assassination, the old Austrio-Hungarian Empire was built by conquest and intrigues, by sales and treacheries (The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand). Franz Ferdinand was a man who many believed would make this empire even more harsh and oppressive and these people fought against such an outcome. However, it has been noted by some that the changes Ferdinand wished to implement may have saved the nation, but while such radical reforms might have saved the empire, they were not popular among those with vested interests in the existing structure (Franz Ferdinand).
Clearly there were many who were opposed to the rule of Ferdinand and they took action. Seven conspirators joined the crowd lining the Archduke's route to City Hall and were successful in killing not only Franz but his wife Sofia, who was pregnant (Assassination of an Archduke, 1914). As one author notes, although the causes of WWI are very convoluted, it is safe to say that these two deaths in Sarajevo provided the spark that ignited the flames of that war (Pendleton).
Prior to the assassination of Ferdinand we can see that there was a great deal of political conflict between one European nation or another for many years, if not decades. One author notes that, it had been simmering for many years before it actually took place. Two countries would have a conflict, they’d have a conference, straightening it all out, and two more countries would be in a dispute over something totally different (Cox). In essence, Europe was in one conflict or another, conflicts that were never really resolved, from 1871 until the assassination of Ferdinand Europe (Cox).
It seems that when one agreement was made between nations, one of the parties would back out, turn their backs, or take a different route, making all agreements between nations a very unstable reality. The European leaders and individuals were perhaps becoming very untrusting of one another, and the tensions were rising as no one would rely on the agreements made by anyone.
As a result of all this tension and distrust, in...