June 2014 witnesses the centennial anniversary of one of the most bizarre historic events of the 20th century, and one fraught with tragic, monumental consequence for the globe. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the imperial throne, and his morganatic wife Sophie were killed by a Serbian nationalist assassin while paying an official visit to Sarajevo, regional capital of the Austrian-controlled province of Bosnia, in the Balkan Peninsula.
Austria took advantage of the provocation to impose conditions upon the Serbian government, including the insertion of its secret police into the country and control of its press—conditions which were universally deemed to be unacceptable by any sovereign state. When Serbia refused the terms of the ultimatum, Austria declared war, exactly one month after Franz Ferdinand’s death. This set off a complex series of agreements and alliances between the Great Powers of Europe, with Germany and Italy aligning with Austria-Hungary, while Russia came to the support of its fellow Slavic Serbians, backed up by England and France.
The resulting global conflagration has gone down in history as World War I, a four-year struggle which cost the lives of some 16 million people, and whose precarious peace sowed the seeds of World War II barely 20 years later. Those four years completely changed the face of Europe and the course of history. The old social order was swept away, with monarchs toppled from their thrones, national economies devastated, and the rise of communism as a form of government.
And it all came down to a missed turn by a limo driver.
Tensions had been building in the Balkans since Austria-Hungary’s formal annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, two provinces of the moribund Ottoman Empire which it had administered since 1878. The contiguous nascent state of Serbia, having just ousted the Turks in two wars in the past two years, also feared Austrian aggression, and several nationalist terrorist groups formed, determined to protect Serbia’s independence. When the Archduke’s official visit to Sarajevo was announced in the spring of 1914, these organizations decided to strike at the heart of Austrian power and prestige, and sent several agents to assassinate the Archduke.
The first attempt upon the Archduke’s life, a small handheld bomb thrown at the procession making its way from the railway station to the Town Hall, missed its mark, wounding several bystanders but killing no one. Upon arrival at the reception, the Archduke exploded with furor at the attack, and insisted upon driving to the hospital after his speech to visit those wounded by the bomb blast. When confronted by an aide concerned about the safety of this journey, the official charged with the Archduke’s protection during the visit sneeringly replied, “Do you think Sarajevo is full of assassins?”
As a matter of fact, it was.
Dejected by the failure of the first attempt, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, of the Serbian nationalist group the “Black Hand,” had attempted to mollify his disappointment by stopping in for lunch at Schiller’s delicatessen on Franz Josef Street. Just outside he met a friend who engaged him in conversation, and at that precise moment, fate intervened.
As the motorcade drove down the Appel Quay, Franz Ferdinand’s driver, who had not been informed of the detour to the hospital, turned as planned onto Franz Josef Street en route to the scheduled visit to a museum. The head of security stopped him and insisted he return to proceed along the Appel Quay.
So the driver backed up to make the turn, bringing the car directly in front of Schiller’s, not five feet from Princip, who simply retrieved the pistol hidden in his pocket and fired point-blank at the Archduke and his wife. Franz Ferdinand was hit in the neck and bled out within minutes; Sophie was struck in the abdomen and expired immediately.
And the rest, as they say, is history…
And in one of those supreme ironies of history, no one seems to have recorded the exact moment of this seminal event of the 20th century, particularly odd in this instance since so much of the minutia of that day is documented. We have the time the Archduke’s special train arrived at Sarajevo station, the time the procession set off from the railway, the time the first, abortive, attempt was made on his life, his arrival at Town Hall, his departure, even the arrival of their dead bodies at the hospital.
What we don’t have is the time for the moment Gavrilo Princip pulled the trigger.
What we do have is several sources with an approximation—“about eleven o’clock.” And setting a chart for that time in Sarajevo seems to be about right.
This yields a 25 Virgo Ascendant, in exact square to the Archduke’s birth Sun at 25 Sagittarius (born 18 December 1863, 7:15 AM local time, Graz, Austria), and placing his natal Sun on the chart’s Nadir at 24 Sagittarius. If it isn’t the right time, it’s surely close, given that intimate connection. 25 Sagittarius is also significant as the degree of the Galactic Center at that time, a point which, when prominent, can indicate someone or something of global importance or receiving universal attention and notice. That is certainly the case, both for Franz Ferdinand himself and the moment of his death.
This time also gives us Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 23 Gemini, closely conjoined the 24 Gemini Midheaven, the most elevated and prominent major planet at this deadly instant. Saturn also represents the conservatism and hierarchical structure of the Old World Order, which had indeed reached its zenith at that moment, never again to attain such predominance. Of course this also places Saturn in opposition to Franz Ferdinand’s natal Sun, an apt position when a life is cut short.
And with that Saturn is asteroid Pandora, exactly on the Midheaven, and asteroid Rip, at 25 Gemini, in exact opposition to the Archduke’s Sun. Pandora represents the unleashing of unintended consequences by an ill-advised action, and that is surely what happened, when Austria-Hungary initiated a conflict that would devastate not only its own royal family, but a half-dozen others, and change the political face of the globe forever. Rip has proven itself as a reliable death indicator, based on its similarity to the acronym “RIP”, “Rest in Peace,” a common tombstone inscription. Saturn closely opposed and Rip exactly opposed Franz Ferdinand’s Sun certainly gives us a picture of mortality looming, and Rip with Pandora specifies the nature of those unintended consequences, namely the deaths of 16 million people.
Murder and death were undoubtedly in the air that day. Asteroid Atropos, named for the mythic Greek Fate who severed the thread of life at death, is close behind the Ascendant, and at 17 Virgo is the tail end of string of Virgo points beginning with Mars, planet of attacks, guns, and violent death, at 1 Virgo. This is followed by asteroid Habsburg (#85199), named for Austria’s ruling royal house (and thus Franz Ferdinand’s “last name”, as it were), at 5 Virgo, then TNO (Trans-Neptunian Object) Ixion, named for the first murderer in Greek mythology, at 8 Virgo, and the Moon at 11 Virgo. All these lie in the Twelfth House, governing hidden enemies.
Pluto, not then discovered, but latterly considered the modern ruler of death, is in a powerful position as well. At 0 Cancer, Pluto is sextile Mars and conjunct the Sun, the day’s attention and focus, at 5 Cancer, but also conjunct asteroid Sarajevo (#178267, the city of the assassination) at 1 Cancer; together they spell a prominent death in Sarajevo which is the focus of all eyes.
Additional factors collude. The assassin Gavrilo Princip is represented by no less than four asteroids, all of which feature dramatically with death indicators. Gavrilo is the Serbian version of the Hebrew name “Gabriel”, and asteroid Gabriella (#355), its feminine equivalent, appears at 4 Scorpio, in conjunction with asteroid Anubis, an Egyptian deity associated with funerary rites, at 8 Scorpio. These conjoin Franz Ferdinand’s natal grouping of asteroid Austria and Venus at 3 and 9 Scorpio; Austria of course is the empire he had been destined to rule, that destiny voided now by death. Venus represents his wife Sophie, the love of his life, who died at his side that day, via the agency of Gavrilo Princip.
Gavrilo is represented by two additional points with similar names—Gavrilov (#4638) and Gavrilin (#7369). In a stupendous act of celestial over-kill, both tie to the day as well. Gavrilov appears at 5 Leo in conjunction with asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 9 Leo, both in square to the Gabriella/Anubis conjunction noted above. Incredibly, Franz Ferdinand has this pair conjunct natally in that same region of the zodiac, and was undergoing a “Double Return” the day of his death, with natal asteroid Gavrilov at 11 Leo and natal asteroid Requiem at 9 Leo, precisely where transit Requiem was when Gavrilo Princip shot him dead!
Transit asteroid Gavrilin at 15 Libra was bound up in a triple conjunction with asteroids Fernandel (#9346, for “Ferdinand”) at 8 Libra, and Karma, those ineluctable workings of Fate, at 11 Libra. Transit Gavrilin was also just a degree shy of Franz Ferdinand’s natal Saturn, ruler of death, at 16 Libra. Natally, asteroid Gavrilin at 12 Sagittarius is conjunct Franz Ferdinand’s 18 Sagittarius Ascendant, with natal Gabriella at 13 Aries on the 16 Aries Nadir and opposing natal Saturn, their angular placements denoting their importance in his life and biography.
The assassin’s last name of Princip is represented by asteroid Principia (#2653), which at 5 Aries is exactly squared the Sun of the day, also squared Pluto and Sarajevo, and with perfection of celestial timing, is an exact match for the Archduke’s natal Moon, representing his physical body. The icing on the cake is natal Ixion (murder), which at 5 Cancer is exactly squared by transit Principia and exactly conjoined by the transit Sun. Natal Principia falls at 0 Capricorn, squared the natal Moon and forming a T-Square with the transit Principia/Sun square on the day of the assassination (natally Principia is also conjunct Mercury at 4 Capricorn, ruling youths and students, and identifying Princip as Franz Ferdinand’s youthful student assassin).
One final death indicator, asteroid Lachesis, named for the Greek Fate who determines the span of life, appears at 14 Gemini, conjunct transit asteroid Austria at 19 Gemini, signifying a death in the Austrian Royal House as well as decreeing the lifespan of its imperial rulership generally, which would be terminated when the war ended four years later. This squares the transit Atropos of the day at 17 Virgo and conjoins a natal pairing of asteroid Nemesis (retribution, vengeance, undoing) at 20 Gemini and Uranus (ruling shootings) at 22 Gemini, while opposed the Archduke’s natal Gavrilin at 12 Sagittarius. Lachesis natally conjoins asteroid Sarajevo at 22 and 27 Pisces, squared the natal Sun at 25 Sagittarius, identifying the place he died.
That Franz Ferdinand’s death should be highly public and the reaction to it somewhat “overblown” may be anticipated from an exact conjunction of Jupiter, planet of fame and excess, with asteroid Osiris, named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, both at 17 Scorpio. There is the seed of a politically-based death in this pairing as well, and a hint of the far-reaching consequences to follow. This is broadly squared by natal Gavrilov/Requiem, identifying his murderer, and opposed by natal Pluto at 10 Taurus.
At his assassination, transit Uranus, ruling shootings, was in exact square to natal Pluto from 10 Aquarius, and traveling with asteroid Francis (#2050, for Franz) and Damocles, that sword of doom hanging unseen overhead, at 7 and 6 Aquarius. Uranus may also be considered to be in broad square to natal Jupiter/Osiris. More closely squared was transit Jupiter at 21 Aquarius, in company with TNO Chaos at 19 Aquarius. Political (Jupiter) anarchy (Chaos) was certainly what ensued from the death. Moreover, Jupiter was once again traveling with Osiris, as at his birth, with that harbinger of death now somewhat ahead of Jupiter at 27 Aquarius. From there, it makes an exact conjunction to Franz Ferdinand’s natal Damocles, bringing us back full circle. Natally Damocles is conjoined by asteroid Franzia (#862, another variant of Franz), which by transit falls at 22 Sagittarius for the assassination, on the Nadir and opposed transit Saturn, another indicator of the archduke’s incipient demise.
And what of poor Sophie, the innocent bystander in all this? Theirs was a love match—Sophie, though of aristocratic blood, was not deemed sufficiently august to merit a Habsburg groom, but Franz Ferdinand held out against his uncle, the Emperor’s, objections. After the archduke became his uncle’s heir presumptive with the death of his cousin, the Emperor’s son, in 1889, the difficulties in uniting the couple became even more intense, but Franz Ferdinand would not yield. Eventually a compromise was reached, and in 1900, the archduke claimed his bride, but their marriage was a morganatic one, and their children (they had three) were not able to succeed to the throne. But the couple were devoted to each other; June 28, 1914, was in fact their fourteenth wedding anniversary, and Franz Ferdinand’s dying words were addressed to the love of his life: “Sophie! Sophie! Don’t die—stay alive for our children!”
But Sophie’s death was written in the stars that day as well, with asteroid Sophia (#251) at 20 Cancer in conjunction with asteroid Nemesis at 17 Cancer, squared by asteroid Gavrilin at 15 Libra. Both their love and her passing can be seen in her husband’s chart, with his natal Venus at 9 Scorpio in tight trine to his natal Sophia at 10 Pisces, creating a strong bond of romance and partnership between them. From there natal Sophia is conjunct asteroids Atropos and Habsburg at 8 and 5 Pisces, identifying the royal match that would lead to her death. Transit Habsburg at 5 Virgo was exactly opposed natal Habsburg when she died, conjoined transit Mars at 1 Virgo and TNO Ixion, the murderer, at 8 Virgo exactly opposing the Archduke’s natal Atropos.
Born Sophie Chotek on 1 March 1868, Sophie’s natal Sun at 11 Pisces conjoined asteroid Sophia in her future husband’s chart, making her the right particular “fit” for the trine from his Venus to the celestial “placeholder” Sophia, with its inherent potential as mate. Any Sophia might have fit the bill of attraction, but Franz Ferdinand was hers from their first eyelock, shored up by that solar conjunction. Her natal Habsburg at 11 Cancer trines her Sun (creating a synastric Grand Trine between them) and conjoins her natal Ixion and Anubis, both at 10 Cancer, reprising the theme of her death and murder as a result of her association with Austria’s royal family. Natal Uranus at 8 Cancer also in this grouping denotes the means of death, by gunshot (and would have been reflected as well in that initial bomb blast, had it been successful), and brings the stellium perilously close to conjunction with the transit Sun at 5 Cancer.
A famous, perhaps fated, and violent death is also indicated, with a natal T-Square of Mars at 27 Aquarius (exactly atop Franz Ferdinand’s natal Damocles) opposed Karma at 25 Leo, both squared to Rip at 21 Scorpio, which was also squared exactly by transit Jupiter at 21 Aquarius at her murder.
A natal combination of Pluto and Aphrodite at 14 and 16 Taurus also signals potential disaster resulting from a romantic entanglement. These are squared exactly by natal asteroid Principia exactly conjunct asteroid Sarajevo at 14 Aquarius and natal Franzia at 16 Aquarius, indicating both her killer and where she was killed (Principia/Sarajevo square Pluto) and her lover (Franzia squared Aphrodite) who died at her side that day.
Gavrilo Princip shows up elsewhere in Sophie’s nativity as well—as natal Gabriella at 3 Taurus, conjunct Nemesis at 0 Taurus; as natal Gavrilin at 4 Aquarius conjoined natal Lachesis at 0 Aquarius (these in square to Gabriella/Nemesis); and as natal Gavrilov at 9 Aries conjunct natal Damocles at 2 Aries (with Gavilov squared Uranus/Ixion/Anubis/Habsburg). Having all four celestial referents for her assassin linked to death indicators in her birthchart is so statistically improbable as to strain credulity, but there it is. How much clearer can the cosmos be?
When she died, transit Atropos at 17 Virgo conjoined natal Requiem at 15 Virgo and opposed natal Jupiter at 18 Pisces (that “famed death” energy reiterated), with transit Lachesis at 14 Gemini adding further emphasis by forming a T-Square, also square to the natal Sun at 11 Pisces. Transit Osiris exactly conjoined her natal Mars at 27 Aquarius, and transit Habsburg at 5 Virgo exactly squared her natal Saturn at 5 Sagittarius.
This incident became the pretext for Austrian aggression against its Slavic neighbors, and due to a web of alliances and the diplomatic tensions building in Europe at the time, what might have been a small regional conflict between one aging superpower and an insignificant neighbor mushroomed into a global war. These two lives lost presaged millions more, caught up in a struggle not of their making, over concerns and agendas that were not theirs.
But for Franz Ferdinand and Sophie, there seems an undeniable date with destiny on that sunny June morning in Sarajevo. Could things have gone otherwise? Was it possible to avoid the debacle so stunningly portrayed in the stars? That’s a question to which we simply have no answer.