Sarajevo: city commemorates end to 'a century of conflict', but divisions still run deep
|Archduke and his wife a few minutes before the assassination|
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, did not start the First World war. The war would have taken place sooner or later, even if Princip had not fired the fatal bullets. In fact the assassination may not have taken place at all had the driver taken the correct route and had not been ordered to stop and reverse right opposite to where Princip was standing, following the first failed attempt by the other conspirators earlier that day. Chance hangs on such slender threads.
The prime cause of the Great War was the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its determination to attack Serbia, which had dominated political thought in Vienna for some time.The actual assassination was used merely as another reason for Austrian aggression, as can be evidenced by the text of the Austrian ultimatum to Belgrade on the 23rd July 1914. The alliance between Serbia and Russia was ignored by Vienna, as they had received an assurance that in the event of Russian mobilisation, Germany would stand with Austria. Europe at that time, was a patchwork of alliances and treaties which contributed greatly to the complications and misconceptions of the First World war. Ironically, Great Britain was not part of any formal alliance at that time and only entered the war following the German invasion of Belgium which Britain had promised to defend under the Treaty of London of 1839.
Treaties, Alliances, Agreements were all part of a complex mixture of reasons for the start of World War 1, coupled with the growing economic and militaristic power of Germany. To say that the, almost, chance assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand started the Great war, over simplifies a very intricate series of events and relationships.