In 1904, Britain and France had signed an agreement – the Entente Cordiale – that did not bind them absolutely to come to each other’s military defence, but was intended as a protection against the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. In 1907, Russia joined the Entente Cordiale.
On 28th June 1914, in Sarajevo, capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina – then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire – the Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was killed by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was visiting Sarajevo because the Empire had annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Ottoman Empire in 1908.
Serbia, which had once been part of the Ottoman Empire, and which had been recognised as an independent nation only in 1878 – but under the domain of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – felt that Bosnia and Herzegovina should have become part of Serbia. Gavrilo Princip, who shot Archduke Ferdinand, was a Serbian nationalist.
As the car quickly reversed, a thin stream of blood spurted from His Highness’s mouth onto my right check. As I was pulling out my handkerchief to wipe the blood away from his mouth, the Duchess cried out to him, “For God’s sake! What has happened to you?”
At that she slid off the seat and lay on the floor of the car, with her face between his knees.
I had no idea that she too was hit and thought she had simply fainted with fright. Then I heard His Imperial Highness say, “Sophie, Sophie, don’t die. Stay alive for the children!”
At that, I seized the Archduke by the collar of his uniform, to stop his head dropping forward and asked him if he was in great pain. He answered me quite distinctly, “It is nothing!”
His face began to twist somewhat but he went on repeating, six or seven times, ever more faintly as he gradually lost consciousness, “It’s nothing!”
Then came a brief pause followed by a convulsive rattle in his throat, caused by a loss of blood. This ceased on arrival at the governor’s residence.
The two unconscious bodies were carried into the building where their death was soon established.