With Franz like these...


Franz Ferdinand (the band) came through Boston a couple of weeks ago, and even though the band was apparently named after Archduke Franz Ferdinand (the racehorse), the concert got me thinking about Franz Ferdinand (the actual archduke). He is, of course, most famous for being shot "“ his assassination in 1914 sparked World War I "“ but I find his personal life more intriguing than his role in international affairs. As a young man, he went to a dance and fell instantly in love with one of the guests, Countess Sophia von Chotkowa und Wognin, Duchess of Hohenburg. His family forbade him to continue the affair because Sophie, despite her impressively lengthy name, wasn't from a currently ruling dynasty and therefore wasn't aristocratic enough for the 'rents. But Franz wasn't having it. He called in the big guns "“ Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the Pope "“ to plead on his behalf, and it worked. The family allowed him to marry Sophie, under two conditions: her children could never sit on the throne, and her arse could never sit shotgun in the royal carriage.

Say what you want about him (and people have: "He has been referred to as a miser, a bigot, and a spoiled child"), F. Ferdinand was right about Sophie being his one and only. Four years into his marriage, he wrote to his stepmother "“ one of very few royals who had been willing to attend the controversial wedding "“ that the marriage had been "the most intelligent thing I've ever done in my life."Â And on his 14th wedding anniversary, as he lay gasping for breath beside her after both were shot by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip, he could think only of her. His last words were: "Sophie dear, Sophie dear, don't die! Stay alive for our children!" Alas, they perished together and are buried in the crypts of the Austrian castle Artstetten.

Also, speaking of star-crossed love: Nick McCarthy, guitar virtuoso, sie sind Superfantastisch!