By Alex Miller | June 23, 2014
June 28, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of one of the seminal moments of the 20th Century — the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his morganatic wife Sophie, an event which precipitated the First World War. (1) Heir to the aging Austro-Hungarian empire, Franz and Sophie were shot and killed by Gavrilio Princip, a 19-year-old Serbian student and anarchist, while on a formal visit to Sarajevo, regional capital of the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, recently annexed by Austria from the moribund Ottoman Empire.
Franz was the nephew of the reigning emperor, Franz Josef, and became his heir when the latter’s son shot himself in 1889. Five years later Franz met Sophie, a lady-in-waiting to a cousin’s wife, at a ball in Prague — it was love at first sight.
But the trip down the aisle was a long one; although of aristocratic blood, Sophie was not royal, and the imperial rules regarding marriage with the Habsburg family were very strict. Particularly as heir to the throne, the marriage was deemed unacceptable, but Franz refused to consider any other match, and he and Sophie began a clandestine affair, mostly via letters and stolen moments together. He and his uncle clashed frequently over this issue, until at last in 1900, Franz Josef agreed to allow the marriage to take place, although Sophie would have to be Franz’ morganatic wife, meaning (as noted) that she could never share her husband’s rank or status, even after he became emperor, and their children could not succeed to the throne. Granted the rank of Furstin, or Princess, Sophie’s social status improved considerably over the title of countess she was born with, but she still ranked below even the lowliest, or youngest, Archduchess. At court functions, Franz and Sophie were separated from one another, with Sophie trailing far down the reception line.
But the couple were happy and had three children, two boys and a girl, though the constant social snubs chafed Franz’ pride quite a bit. Born on December 18, 1863 (7:15 a.m. local time, Graz, Austria), Franz’ attraction for Sophie was written in the stars. His Venus at 9° Scorpio, ruling romance and partnership, closely trined his natal asteroid Sophia at 10° Pisces, indicating an ease of interaction and a potential for romantic attraction between himself and someone of that name. In effect, asteroid Sophia is acting as a “placeholder” for a potential mate, and when Sophie Chotek, born on March 1, 1868, met Franz, her natal Sun at 11° Pisces walked right into that potential, making her the right “fit” for the energy. Conjoining Sophia in Franz’ birth chart are further descriptors of their union and fate, with asteroids Habsburg, the name of his royal house, and Atropos, named for mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death, conjunct from 5° and 8° Pisces.
Franz’ Venus further opposes Sophie’s natal Pluto at 14° Taurus, suggesting a deeply transformative love, but also the potential for death and destruction from their union. An early intimation of their tragic end may be seen in the archduke’s Venus conjunction with an exact natal pairing of his Jupiter and Osiris at 17° Scorpio — this prefigures a famous (Jupiter) death (Osiris, named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead) , involving a partner (Venus).
Sophie’s own Venus at 18° Aries is exactly trined Franz’ natal Ascendant at 18° Sagittarius, and more broadly trine his Sun at 25° Sagittarius, as well as opposing his natal Saturn at 16° Libra, signifier both of him as her spouse and also the obstacles they overcame to express their love. Her Venus is also conjunct asteroid Pandora at 19° Aries, denoting the unleashing of unexpected consequences from their love (not the least of which was a global war).
Sophie also has a grouping of Uranus, asteroid Anubis, TNO Ixion, and asteroid Habsburg natally, at 8°, 10°, and 11° Cancer (Anubis and Ixion together at 10°), which tells the tale of their disaster –— Uranus rules shootings, Anubis is named for an Egyptian deity associated with funerary rites, Ixion is named for the first murderer in Greek myth, and Habsburg indicates the familial connection that would drive the potential of the other three into manifestation.
(See graph below for the connections in this article)
Their killer and the place they died are also reflected in their birth charts and the skies on the day they died. Asteroid Sarajevo falls at 22° Pisces in Franz’ nativity, conjoined asteroid Lachesis at 27° Pisces, named for the Greek Fate who determines the span of life, and squared the Sun, suggesting that this city would be instrumental in the ending of his life. Sophie’s natal Sarajevo at 14° Aquarius is exactly conjunct natal asteroid Principia (for Gavrilo Princip, her assassin) and also conjoined asteroid Franzia (for Franz) at 16° Aquarius, bringing together her husband and their assassin with the venue for their deaths. Together these exactly square a pairing of Pluto, ruling death, at 14° Taurus, and Aphrodite, ruling affairs of the heart, at 16° Taurus, another indicator that their love could lead to disaster. Principia at 0° Capricorn in Franz’ chart conjoins the Sun at 25° Sagittarius, denoting his importance in the archduke’s biography, and also Mercury, ruling youths and students, at 4° Capricorn, while squared Franz’ natal Moon, his physical body, at 5° Aries.
Franz’ natal chart also sports a conjunction of asteroid Gavrilov (for Gavrilo) at 11° Leo with asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 9° Leo, uniting a major death indicator with the name of the man who killed him. Amazingly, on the day he died, transit Requiem had exactly returned to its natal degree, bringing transit Gavrilov in its wake at 5° Leo! Sophie’s natal Gavrilov at 9° Aries squares the Cancer stellium describing her potential murder.
Two attempts were made on their lives that sunny June morning in Sarajevo. The first was a small bomb thrown at the procession from the railway station, which missed its target and killed no one, but injured several. After the formal reception, Franz insisted on a detour to the hospital to visit the wounded, but no one told his driver. As the vehicle made a turn to follow the route of the official itinerary, the head of security stopped the driver and informed him of the change in destination. As the driver backed to make the turn, he brought the car to within mere feet of Gavrilo Princip, waiting for lunch outside a deli, who simply pulled out the revolver concealed in his jacket pocket and shot both Franz and Sophie at point blank range. Franz was hit in the neck and bled out within minutes; Sophie was shot in the abdomen and died instantly. Franz’ last words were an impassioned plea to the love of his life: “Sophie! Don’t die! Stay alive for our children!”
The Sun at 5° Cancer that day was conjunct both Pluto, ruling death, at 0° Cancer, and asteroid Sarajevo, the town they died in, at 1° Cancer. The Sun was exactly squared by transit asteroid Principia, representing their killer, at 5° Aries, resting exactly atop Franz’ natal Moon. Transit Sophia at 20° Cancer aligned with asteroid Nemesis at 17° Cancer, and transit asteroid Francis (also for Franz) at 7° Aquarius aligned with transit Damocles at 6° Aquarius and Uranus at 10° Aquarius. Transit asteroid Habsburg at 5° Virgo combined with Mars (violent death, attacks) at 1° Virgo, TNO Ixion (murder) at 8° Virgo, and the Moon at 11° Virgo. Jupiter and Osiris were once more conjoined, as in Franz’ birth chart, now at 21° and 27° Aquarius, with Osiris exactly conjoined Sophie’s natal Mars and Franz’ natal Damocles, that doom hanging unseen overhead.
A month after their deaths, Austria attempted to impose harsh conditions on Serbia’s government in retaliation for the attack, issuing an ultimatum that would have required Serbia to accept Austrian secret police into their country to suppress anarchists, and control of their press, conditions which were generally considered so extreme that no sovereign government could accept them. When Serbia refused the ultimatum, Austria-Hungary declared war, and a series of complex alliances and agreements went into effect, whereby Germany and Italy mobilized in support of Austria, while Russia came to the defense of its fellow Slavic nation Serbia, backed up by England and France.
The ensuing conflagration spread across Europe and the globe, eventually drawing in America on the side of the Allies, costing some 16 million lives and toppling monarchs from their thrones across the continent. The conflict led directly to the establishment of a communist government in Russia, and the fragile peace four years later sowed the seeds of World War II.
But for Franz and Sophie, the story ends on June 28th, 1914, in sleepy Sarajevo. The date was also their 14th wedding anniversary, and they died as they had lived — together and united.
(1) morganatic: adjective used to describe a marriage in which neither the spouse of lower social rank nor any children of the marriage may inherit the title or possessions of the higher-ranking spouse.