When beggars die there are no comets seen:
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
Julius Caesar, Act II Scene ii.
On Sunday 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo, a Serbian nationalist called Gavrilo Princip shot dead Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The clearest account is by Dan Snow here:
In the Brazilian rainforest, a butterfly stretched its wings and flew to its next perch.
In a remote part of north-west Hampshire, the sun had barely set on one of the shortest nights of the year. The church clock had chimed the hours through the night as usual, but Bourne Farm‘s resident rooster ensured that no one at the north end of the village either was able to sleep in that morning, even though it was a Sunday. Eli Goodyear, fifty-seven years old, recalled with some satisfaction that his two sons and daughter now had the duty of feeding the animals and it was no longer his responsibility to get up at dawn to milk the cows. The first task of his day would be to lead the family on their weekly walk to the service of Mattins at St Peter’s, led by the Revd William Tovani. Eli was the sixth generation of his family to work in farming in St Mary Bourne: he could trace back his lineage to William Goodyear who had been born in the village in 1690. And he hoped that his eldest son, George, would continue after him in his turn. It had been a busy week, with the first cut of hay to feed the animals over the winter. All nine of his surviving children had been called in to help, in addition to his usual farm hands, but there was still much to do. He would ask the vicar to pray for continuing fine weather next week to help him and his fellow farmers. But before that he needed to write to his older brother William who had moved into Andover some years earlier – he would just have time to catch the 10.45 Sunday postal collection.
Austria-Hungary was to blame the Serbian government for the attack in the hope of using the incident as justification for settling the question of Slav nationalism once and for all. As Russia supported Serbia, Franz Josef would delay declaring war on Serbia until Austria-Hungary received assurances from Kaiser Wilhelm that Germany would support their cause should the Russians intervene, with the probable involvement of Russia’s ally, France, and possibly Britain as well. On July 28, Austria-Hungary would declare war on Serbia, precipitating the collapse of the tenuous peace amongst the great European powers. Within a week, Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia were to line up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and the war to end all wars, the first truly global war, would begin.
If this post feels like a series of unconnected events, that is probably how it felt to those living at the time as well. One of the effects of this global series of earth tremors is that it became increasingly difficult to live in a solipsistic bubble of one’s own immediate surroundings.
Although, with the benefit of hindsight, would-be international mediators and theorists have a tendency to feel that the war could have been averted, this is not the practical conclusion reached by those who have ever played the game ‘Diplomacy’ in which, no matter who the participants are or how they play, war usually ensues.
- Article by: Annika Mombauer
The hundred-year debate
How could the death of one man, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was assassinated on 28 June 1914, lead to the deaths of millions in a war of unprecedented scale and ferocity? This is the question at the heart of the debate on the origins of the First World War. How did Europe get from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife to the situation at the beginning of August when Germany and Austria-Hungary were at war with Serbia, Russia, France, Belgium, and Britain? Finding the answer to this question has exercised historians for 100 years, and arriving at a convincing consensus has proved impossible.
Satirical drawing by R. Ferro [Cupidity – Greed]
‘Cupidity’, a satirical drawing showing the hands of men from countries involved in World War One, arguing for control of the world.
The need to fight a defensive war…
(read the rest of this article here)
A note on sources:
The 1911 census and Kelly’s Post Office Directory provide the inhabitants of Bourne Farm (Eli Goodyear was still there in the 1920 directory), as well as details of the Goodyear family. You can see Bourne Farm marked on the 1875 Ordnance Survey map. The St Mary Bourne history group maintain a Bourne Valley ‘family’ tree on ancestry.co.uk, which chronicles the relationships in these villages, including Eli’s ancestors.
The mundane details of Eli’s reconstructed morning are of course fictional, but based on reality, that is these Goodyears were ‘church’, not ‘chapel’, the three eldest children give their occupation as working on the farm in the 1911 census, Eli’s elder brother had indeed moved into central Andover and there was a 10.45 postal collection on a Sunday.
Entry in Crockford’s Clerical Directory