Archduke Franz Ferdinand: Catalyst of WWI and Blue Mountains Fan

By Jordan Grantham, 10 April 2017
The Archduke commented that the view of the Wentworth Falls alone was worth the long journey to Australia. Images: Wikimedia Commons

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, visited the Blue Mountains, of the Diocese of Parramatta in 1893, as part of a world tour.

21 years later, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, which caused Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, starting the First World War.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was nephew to Emperor Franz Joseph, whose death 100 years ago was recently commemorated in his former territories. Emperor Franz Joseph died on 21 November 1916.

Franz Joseph was the last King of Austro-Hungary, which had a vast territory covering modern day Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Czech Republic, Solvenia, and small parts of Poland, Italy, Romania and Ukraine.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, his nephew and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire loved hunting.

He hunted many exotic animals on an around the world trip commencing in 1892. Some were brought back live to the Royal Menagerie in Schönbrunn Palace, on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand reached Australia in 1893.

He passed through Parramatta and the Blue Mountains, on the way to hunt at Narromine.

The Blue Mountains impressed him greatly. He visited Wentworth Falls, Fovett’s Leap and the Zig Zag Railway. The Archduke commented that the view of the Wentworth Falls alone was worth the long journey to Australia.

On his Australian trip, the Archduke hunted many animals including kangaroo, koala, emu and platypus. Kookaburra and cockatoo were captured live and transported to Schönbrunn Menagerie.

He attended Sunday Mass everywhere he went, including at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.

His predecessor, Emperor Franz Joseph, was the last ruler to exercise the jus exclusiviae, a veto in the papal conclave, which in 1903 elected Pope St Pius X.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s immediate successor as heir to the Austrian Empire was Archduke Charles of Austria, the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary.

Archduke Charles was an extraordinary man and lived a life of great holiness, while the First World War raged around him. Pope St John Paul II considered Blessed Charles’ personal sanctity and benevolent leadership for his beatification in 2004.

Emperor Charles prayed daily, with Mass, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and the Rosary. He slept with an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus under his pillow.

Blessed Charles proposed to his wife, the future Empress, in front of the Blessed Sacrament at the main Marian Shrine of Austria, Mariazell. He inscribed the Marian antiphon ‘Sub Tuum Praesidium’, on his wedding ring.

St Patrick’s Cathedral Schola have performed ‘Sub Tuum Praesidium’ on several occasions.

Professor Peter Monteath wrote a fascinating article in The Australian on Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s visit to Australia.

The Emperor Karl Prayer League has more fascinating information on Blessed Charles.

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