This was originally posted in 2014 on the centennial of the assassination of HIH Franz Ferdinand and HH Sophie by my good friend, Theodore Harvey.
It is morning in Sarajevo on 28 June: the centennial of one of the most catastrophic single events of all time. One hundred years ago, a wicked assassin's bullet snuffed out the lives of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife, and with them the Old Order of European Civilisation, probably forever, as much as present-day monarchists sometimes try against all probability to be optimistic. There have been other pivotal events in world history, but the magnitude of 1914 is unparalleled: until that time, in spite of revolutions in the Americas, France, and more recently Portugal and China, Monarchy remained the dominant form of government on earth; five years later, that was no longer true, and since then the cancer of republicanism has only grown.
The West's internal political controversies of today seem trivial and pointless by comparison. Contemporary European governments, most of them illegitimate republics that ultimately owe their miserable worthless existences to Princip's bullet, will issue their statements and hold their commemorative events. There will probably be blather about "freedom" and "democracy," but it's all balderdash. Europe today is a pathetic shadow of what it once was; all that's left are echoes, remnants, and memories. If Europe is still able to awe and delight both inhabitants and visitors, it is because of the greatness of what was built--physically, culturally, and spiritually--before 1914.
RIP Archduke Franz Ferdinand. RIP Duchess Sophie. RIP all the millions of men, many of them teenagers, who died for no good reason. Any analysis that blames one country or one ruler for the war is an oversimplification. But the real Europe was the Europe of kings and emperors, archdukes and duchesses. And that Europe was destroyed one hundred years ago this day, though it would take a few years for that to become clear. The lamps went out all over Europe, and they have not been lit again.
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