m1914

5
Monarchs in 1914 

Wilhelm II

Was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918.

Wilhelm was a friend of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, and he was deeply shocked by his assassination on 28 June 1914. Wilhelm offered to support Austria-Hungary in crushing the Black Hand, the secret organization that had plotted the killing, and even sanctioned the use of force by Austria against the perceived source of the movement—Serbia (this is often called “the blank cheque”). He wanted to remain in Berlin until the crisis was resolved, but his courtiers persuaded him instead to go on his annual cruise of the North Sea on 6 July 1914. Wilhelm made erratic attempts to stay on top of the crisis via telegram, and when the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum was delivered to Serbia, he hurried back to Berlin. Unknown to the Emperor, Austro-Hungarian ministers and generals had already convinced the 84-year-old Franz Joseph I of Austria to sign a declaration of war against Serbia. As a direct consequence, Russia began a general mobilization to attack Austria in defense of Serbia.

He later abdicated in 1918.

5
Monarchs in 1914 

Franz Josef I

After the death of Crown Prince Rudolf, Franz Joseph’s nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, became heir to the throne. On 28 June 1914, Franz Ferdinand and his morganatic wife, Countess Sophie Chotek, were assassinated on a visit to Sarajevo. When he heard the news of the assassination, Franz Joseph said that “one has not to defy the Almighty. In this manner a superior power has restored that order which I unfortunately was unable to maintain.” While the emperor was shaken, and interrupted his vacation in order to return to Vienna, he soon resumed his vacation to his imperial villa at Bad Ischl. With the emperor five hours away from the capital, most of the decision-making during the “July Crisis” fell to Count Leopold Berchtold, the Austrian foreign minister, Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, the chief of staff for the Austrian army, and the rest of the ministers. On 21 July, Franz Joseph was apparently surprised by the severity of the ultimatum that was to be sent to the Serbs, and expressed his concerns that Russia would be unwilling to stand idly by, yet he nevertheless chose to not question Berchtold’s judgment. A week after the ultimatum, on 28 July, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and two days later, the Austro-Hungarians and the Russians went to war. Within weeks, the French and British entered the fray. Because of his age, Franz Joseph was unable to take as much as an active part in the war in comparison to past conflicts.