NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
18th December, 1863 : This day Franz Ferdinand, a nephew of the Emperor Franz Josef I, was born at the Herberstein Palace in Graz to Archduke Karl Ludwig and Maria Annunziata, a Bourbon Princess of the Two Sicilies. He received home schooling and then served in the army. An enthusiastic hunter, he even managed to shoot kangaroos and emus in Australia.
The suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889 made Karl Ludwig the heir to the throne, but within days he renounced it in favour of his son Franz Ferdinand.
In Prague Franz Ferdinand met Countess Sophie Chotek, a Czech aristocrat of not sufficiently grand lineage to marry a future Habsburg emperor. Despite the fury of his family, Franz Ferdinand persisted, commenting that Habsburg inbreeding had made half their children either epileptic or idiots. They married in 1900 in morganatic union, meaning that their future children were debarred from the succession.
[More remembered for his death than life; he had some very progressive political ideas, which could had conceivably lead to vital, modern Austria-Hungary.]