Lot 10
  • 10

Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria

3,000 - 5,000 GBP
8,125 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria
  • Important autograph letter about the unrest in the Balkans, to Kaiser Wilhelm II ("Euer Majestät! Hochverehrter Vetter!"), signed ("Franz")
  • paper
expressing his hope that moderation can prevail in Bosnia to sort out the "Albanian Question" in the Balkan Crisis, and that peace and harmony can be restored to Europe as a whole, so that reservists can return to their families and respond to the requirements of trade and agriculture; he comments on the war-fever that is being whipped up in France, scotching French rumours about his health, reports on the positive response of the Russian foreign minister Sazonov to his letter to Tsar Nicholas, gives his best wishes for the forthcoming marriage of Wilhelm's daughter Viktoria Luise and looks forward to inspecting the fleet, seeing his flag atop his new Dreadnought and conducting some manoeuvres; in a postscript he asks that a telegram [not included here] is treated as confidential

...Du kannst die Majestät vorstellen, wie ich es schon herbeisehne unsere braven armen Reservisten nach Hause zu ihren Familien zu schicken, gerade jetzt wo der Anbau beginnt und Handel u Wandel in die normalen Bahnen gelenkt werden sollen.  Auch in Bosnien hoffe ich daß bald die Möglichkeit zu dieser Maßnahme gekommen sein wird sobald endlich die Hauptpunkte des Albanischen Streites bereinigt sind.  So wird Europa unsere Friedensliebe anerkennen u hoffentlich die ersehente Ruhe wieder eintreten...

5 pages, 4to (27.5 x 22cm), annotated and initialled by Wilhelm in pencil at the top of the first page, recording its receipt ("26 II 13 / W:"), with some passages underlined in red crayon, on two folio sheets with integral blank, Vienna, 25 February 1913, staining to the first and fourth pages, some creasing and slight splitting at folds

Catalogue Note

RARE. Whereas Wilhelm II's letters to Franz Ferdinand are known and quoted from by scholars of the build-up to World War I, the Archduke's letters to Wilhelm are apparently untraced.

In this letter the doomed Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863-1914) expresses his hope that peace may be restored to Bosnia and to Europe as a whole. Austria supported the idea of Albania (which had recently declared itself independent of Turkey) as a buffer state to prevent against any Serbian encroachment onto the Adriatic. The Balkan Crisis came to a head at the start of 1913, when Russian troops threatened to intervene in support of Serbia. Wilhelm replied to the present letter, commending Franz Ferdinand for having written to the Tsar. However, sixteen months later, on 28 June 1914, the Archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo. The wedding of Viktoria Luise of Prussia to Ernst Augustus of Hanover was celebrated in Berlin on 24 May 1913. The Kaiser invited almost all his royal cousins, and the event proved to be one of the last great gatherings of European royalty before World War I.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Professor John Röhl in our cataloguing of this lot.