Author Topic: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans  (Read 54887 times)

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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2013, 03:06:49 PM »
...or, to put it more succinctly, the "fairytale" observation when I made it and Greg ran with it was a comment on the quality of the surviving evidence, not the actual relationship of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie.

If you're rich, you CAN of course pay vast quantities of money to ensure that life has a fairytale quality for you and yours, assuming you are reasonably content to begin with. This is what FF tried to create at Konopiste, and just for me personally the chapter which aimed to evoke his daily life there was the one which came closest to sentimentality, and which I liked least in the book, and was hardest on as a reader.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 03:09:06 PM by Janet Ashton »
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Offline Suzanne

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2013, 08:34:05 PM »
Thanks Janet - glad you enjoyed my review.

Great to hear more about the origins of the "fairy tale" motif in the Assassination of the Archduke.

As much as I enjoyed the book, it did seem that the authors were far more willing to give Franz Ferdinand and Sophie the benefit of the doubt compared to Nicholas, Alexandra and their children.

Offline Ilana

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2013, 10:43:20 AM »
Janet, how funny... I loved that chapter.  Really enjoyed the look at their daily lives... oh well... makes the world go round, eh?
So long and thanks for all the fish

Offline Kitt

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2013, 08:06:26 PM »
I have really enjoyed this book. I read it on my Nook.  I've always known about this story in a general way, but the amount of detail in this work is great.  I found it interesting that FF knew he faced imminent assassination, and requested not to go on this trip.  If he knew this, others must have also. I am sure these "others" knew that their influence would be limited when FF came to the throne. I also think that Archduke Karl might have been thought to be a better choice to succeed by Hapsburg family.  So, they refused to allow FF and his wife to get out of going on the fatal trip.
I also think that their children and descendants were remarkable people.
All the best, Kitt

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2013, 03:36:08 PM »

As much as I enjoyed the book, it did seem that the authors were far more willing to give Franz Ferdinand and Sophie the benefit of the doubt compared to Nicholas, Alexandra and their children.

Yes, I quite agree. But one author has not written anything negative about N. and A. either, and it's her book - her favourite subject that she'd wanted to write about - too.

I did give Greg a really hard time over it, though, as he could testify...:-)
Shake your chains to earth like dew
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Ye are many; they are few.

Offline Greg_King

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2013, 11:32:46 PM »
true...but another thing to keep in mind is that I have spent 35 years studying Nicholas and Alexandra; I have far more knowledge of their lives, and thus much more on which to base my opinions.  My opinions of NA are well-thought out after decades after research, whereas so little remains on which to judge Franz Ferdinand and Sophie.  So if I am harder on NA, I feel at least justified in doing so based on years of research.  With Franz Ferdinand and Sophie the demonstrably true negative information (not gossip) about them is simply lacking for the most part.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2013, 04:09:52 AM »
I've yet to read the book, so must be careful, but the extent to which FF loved Sophie at the time of their marriage must be clear from the mere fact that he was prepared to renounce the succession for her. I understand also that after the initial bomb in Sarajevo, FF tried to persuade Sophie to leave at once, instead of going to the hospital, but she insisted on staying with him. If true, I find that pretty telling. I don't think they were the world's most romantic pair (it is difficult to see FF as anything but a difficult man), but nevertheless they seem to have had a happy marriage, and their children turned out well.

Ann

Offline Greenowl

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2013, 07:34:47 AM »
Yes, to the best of my knowledge it is correct that FF tried to persuade Sophie to leave after the bomb was thrown and she received a cut on her neck, instead of accompanying him to the hospital. He actually ordered a car for her, but it was sent away again when she insisted on staying with him. Of course then there is the irony of the driver being unaware of the change of route and stopping to put the car into reverse gear, thus making the pair sitting targets. Maybe this thread/topic should be moved to the Franz-Ferdinand and Sophie thread OR books about the Habsburgs thread in the Habsburg section, where there is already a great deal of information about the assassination, including a link to an interview with their daughter Sophie, who speaks about her "loving father"....I have no idea if the link still works as it is several years old, but I found it very good at the time. I look forward to reading the book (I have not got my hands on it yet) and found the comments from various posters most interesting.

Cheers,
GREENOWL (Monika)

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2013, 12:36:58 PM »
I've yet to read the book, so must be careful, but the extent to which FF loved Sophie at the time of their marriage must be clear from the mere fact that he was prepared to renounce the succession for her. I understand also that after the initial bomb in Sarajevo, FF tried to persuade Sophie to leave at once, instead of going to the hospital, but she insisted on staying with him. If true, I find that pretty telling. I don't think they were the world's most romantic pair (it is difficult to see FF as anything but a difficult man), but nevertheless they seem to have had a happy marriage, and their children turned out well.

Ann

I am not actually sure he WAS prepared to renounce the succession for her. This to me sounds like another "stock story" about princes in love - it is certainly told of Nicholas, and I don't believe he'd have had the gumption to do it. Greg and I did discuss this idea of princes using their love affairs to evade unwanted imperial heritages a while ago, and G. was adamant that FF did not seek to renounce, and intended being Emperor AND marrying Sophie - and there's nothing in the draft I have about renouncing.

To say that people loved each other, though, isn't what I mean about romanticising them. There is a skein of thought, with Franz Ferdinand as with Nicholas, which asserts that because he liked his wives and kids, he must have been an all-round super guy, lost saviour of his country, victim at every turn. If you want an example of this, I refer you to Hertha Pauli's book about him, which alleges that he never touched a woman before Sophie (his doctor, Eisenmenger, who was with him in Cairo and other places, implies rather the reverse), paints him as some pure white milksop all round, and generally has lots of virgin snows and softly drifting scented flowers lighting the days at Konopiste. And her readers follow this up with Amazon reviews stating that "all that was good in Europe died with Franz Ferdinand" etc etc.  You and I know that FF was a difficult character, but apparently some people won't see this, as Greg or I - or at least I - might not have wanted to see it of the Romanovs when we started reading about them at twelve years old and before we developed critical faculties.

Luckily, with the Romanovs, there is other material - for example, Alexandra's desire to follow Nicholas to Ekaterinburg is often seen not as romantic desire to share his Fate but as a need to make sure he wouldn't "do anything stupid", because one witness claimed he heard her say so.

Sophie's refusal to leave Sarajevo had the consequence that three children were left orphans, which I am sure she would never have wanted to happen, even if it meant FF dying alone. I speculate that she didn't believe anything else would happen - or that anything would happen to HER or with HER by his side. A recent account (by Max Hastings) is pretty scathing, describing Sophie's "simpering" her way around Ilidze, where she was very happily received. It sounds a cruel way to write of what seems a brave gesture, but who can say there was no element of truth in this implied suggestion that she was affected by this? As another friend of mine said recently - referring to both couples - "they didn't live in the real world." And I don't see this as romantic - it's more tragic than anything.

Maybe I'm harsh, but I get the idea that there are some people who like a nice bit of tragedy - a good cry with a box of chocolates and a sad story on a Sunday afternoon! "aaahh - isn't it lovely; isn't it sad; all the bad things that happened to this family." Else I'm not sure why publishers would always be so keen on the idea of a nice doomed romance.

I have far too much admiration for my friend to be anything other than over-sensitive when it comes to his work - and to be paranoid at any suggestion that what he was writing was going to come across remotely like Hertha Pauli!!!!! One of my favourite chapters in the "Assassination of the Archduke" is the one which discusses FF's anti-Semitism, his conspiracy theories about France, and his belief that women should know their place - because, despite all the romantic, mythologising and inadequate evidence available about FF's personal life, this is still also a Greg King book and it is still realistic! One doesn't HAVE to study a topic from childhood to be able to apply critical thinking to the evidence. My favourite assessment of FF comes from Otto Czernin, his own associate, who described him as "a good hater" - and from Eisenmenger, who admired him, knew him well, often defended his reputation - but didn't really wholly like him, and never saw him as a friend.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2013, 12:44:00 PM by Janet Ashton »
Shake your chains to earth like dew
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Ye are many; they are few.

Offline Greenowl

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2013, 01:27:16 PM »
 Archduke Franz-Ferdinand was both pragmatic and conservative, but also extremely tenacious (for which I greatly admire him). He had extremely strong religious beliefs, which made him appear very narrow-minded, especially in questions of morality. Two examples are the Redl affair and the court case in 1912 at which the artist Egon Schiele was tried. Both sent the Archduke into a towering rage (he was extremely short-tempered), although I have to admit that I tend to agree with him with regard to the former, but obviously not with regard to the latter.

As Inspector General of the army the Archduke had to go to Sarajevo. As I understand it, he wanted Sophie to accompany him because he knew that outside Vienna she would receive a little of the respect that he considered was due to her. I don't think that it was Sophie's idea, as she was not the sort of person who sought the limelight. As far as I know they actually travelled separately, and when the military part of the tour was finished they met  up. As mentioned in my previous post, what is incredibly sad is the fact that after the first assassination attempt (the bomb on the way to the town hall) and the reception in the town hall, Franz-Ferdinand actually called for another car to take Sophie out of Sarajevo as quickly as possible as he did not wish to expose her to danger, while he intended to travel to the hospital to visit those injured (or was there only one person injured, namely Lt. Erich Merizzi??) by the bomb. In spite of the fact that Sophie had received a cut on the back of the neck due to being hit by a fragment of metal as a result of the bomb, she refused to leave her husband and said she would prefer to accompany him, so the Archduke sent the second car away again. Maybe she did think that her presence might avert another assassination attempt, but I imagine that she felt that the risk was less and there was unlikely to be another attempt plus (my own speculation here) she knew what a temper the Archduke had and as he had already worked himself up into a rage about the bomb she thought that her presence would have a calming influence on him.

I wonder if there is anything in the book about Franz Urban, the driver of the Archduke's car? My great grandfather was also called Franz Urban, but both Franz and Urban were very common names in Bohemia and Moravia in those days, and I think Urban is still a fairly common sirname in the present Czech Republic.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2013, 04:06:54 AM »
The likes of various Nazi leaders demonstrate all too clearly that it is perfectly possible to be a good father and a thoroughly bad man.

I don't think Ff was a bad man, but neither do I think he was ideal ruler material, and certainly was a difficult person. I think of Sophie as a nice sensible person who exercised a restraining influence over him. She was the right wife for him, rather as Camilla is the right wife for Charles.
It is interesting that both their sons had a strong physical resemblance to FF as adults - indeed, Max looked almost comically like him.

Now I really must order the book!

Ann

Offline Greenowl

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #26 on: October 05, 2013, 05:07:20 AM »
I agree that Sophie appears to have been a nice, sensible person who exercised a restraining influence over the Archduke and was thus the right wife for him, just as Camilla is the right wife for Charles. However, with regard to the Archduke being ideal ruler material: while he had many faults, including his short temper, narrow-mindedness etc, I still think that he was a better choice than his inexperienced nephew Karl or his aged uncle Franz-Joseph (who by that stage had grown old, tired and disillusioned) and might have averted the First World War and held the empire together by means of a federal system, but obviously that is something we will never know. I will order the book on Monday.

Cheers,
GREENOWL (Monika)

Offline TimM

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #27 on: October 05, 2013, 04:35:37 PM »
Quote
and might have averted the First World War

That would have been good, Monika, if he could FF pulled that off.  The history of the last hundred years might have been a lot less bloody.
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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2013, 05:23:39 PM »
. I think of Sophie as a nice sensible person who exercised a restraining influence over him.

I agree, and it makes sense that she would be - there's nothing terribly romantic or unusual about it. As a younger daughter of a diplomat, accustomed to work as a lady-in-waiting, and over 30, she had probably abandoned hope of having a husband and children. To get both of these, plus houses and a privileged lifestyle, would have been more than she ever expected. Why would someone like that become het up or upset over silly matters of protocol? As with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, I think her husband cared far more than she did about the slights to *his* dignity that peoples' refusal to recognise her implied.
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many; they are few.

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Assassination/Archduke by King and Woolmans
« Reply #29 on: October 06, 2013, 05:41:31 PM »
However, with regard to the Archduke being ideal ruler material: while he had many faults, including his short temper, narrow-mindedness etc, I still think that he was a better choice than his inexperienced nephew Karl or his aged uncle Franz-Joseph (who by that stage had grown old, tired and disillusioned) and might have averted the First World War and held the empire together by means of a federal system, but obviously that is something we will never know. I will order the book on Monday.

Cheers,
GREENOWL (Monika)

The problem with the federal idea is that things like that had been in the air since at least the 1840s (and the days of Palacky and the first pan-Slav congress) and tried in various forms - and all the effect they ever had was to split the empire into ever smaller units of people oppressing ever smaller units of people with the collaboration of the centre, which was anxious to keep them in place. FF's own plans placed his Bohemian estates in a Czech-dominated area - and yet his descendants were disinherited of them by the successor Czechoslovak Republic, in no small measure because they were German-held lands at a point when there was  a massive ongoing debate in the new country about equalisation of resources between the Czech and German speakers. An irony of history.

No-one was to blame for this fragmentation. It just kind of proceeds naturally from the fact that the empire was a Habsburg personal possession with no real sense of nationhood beyond that, and all attempts to hold it together were directed to holding their estates.

Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many; they are few.