There will be many anniversaries of the official start of World War I, but only one 100th anniversary. A number of websites and news outlets are publishing remembrances of it today. The Washington Post gets “Tweet of the day” honors for presenting its commemoration, which starts out with admirable simplicity:
Today marks 100 years since the start of WW I. On July 28, 1914, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria the month before, thrusting the world into a war unlike any seen before. It would rage on until November 1918, killing more than 5 million troops and reshaping the world in ways that only sent it hurtling toward the next world war.
Visit the Post page to view images of locations made famous during the “Great War” — as seen then and now.
100 years ago today, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia to start World War I http://t.co/Wfla7T1CZ9
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 28, 2014
We’ll riff on the 100th anniversary theme only briefly here at LU, with a photo gallery of (some of the) people who started the war on the thrones of empire. All of the monarchs here died before the war ended, and their empires were either gone or in the process of being dismantled, in one of the most concentrated periods of boundary shifting and political upheaval the world has ever seen.
Franz Joseph, who officially initiated hostilities by declaring war on Serbia, died in 1916. His successor, Charles I, presided over the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire — also known as the last remnant of the Holy Roman Empire — in 1918. Eventually exiled to the Portuguese island of Madeira, Charles died in 1922.
Nicholas II of Russia abdicated in the “February Revolution” of 1917. After the more famous “October Revolution,” which brought Lenin and the Communists to power, he and his family were held under guard by successive governments in central Russia for the next 9 months. In the early morning hours of 17 July 1918, the family was ordered into the basement of their house of detention in Yekaterinburg and shot to death by a detachment of Bolsheviks and Communist soldiers.
Mehmed V, born in 1848, was elderly by the time he assumed the throne in 1909. He threw in with the Kaiser in November 1914, but did not live out the war. By all accounts a gentle-spoken, somewhat dithering ruler, he died in his sleep on 3 July 1916. His successor, Mehmed VI, saw the empire dissolved and carved up by the Western Allies of World War I, and the sultanate itself abolished by the successor state of Turkey in 1922. Mehmed VI was exiled to Malta and died in Italy in 1926.