How Europe's Rulers Were Destroyed by the First World War
- Gareth Russell
15th September 2015
On 28 June 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated on a visit to Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist called Gavrilo Princip. The assassination set in motion the events that led to the outbreak of the First World War, one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history and a trauma that would bring down the Austro-Hungarian Empire, ending nearly eight centuries of Hapsburg rule and unleashing unrest across the European continent.
By the end of that conflict, not only had the Austro-Hungarian Empire crumbled, but the other two imperial rulers of Europe, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, had lost their grip on power. The three great monarchies of Europe had fallen. Only in Britain would the ruler of an empire, King George V, the first cousin of both the Kaiser and the Tsar, successfully retain his crown.
In The Emperors, Gareth Russell tells the story of the Austrian, German and Russian imperial families during the four years of the First World War and the political and personal struggles that brought about their ruin.