100 Years Since the Event That Started World War I

by MATT STOKES | JUNE 27, 2014

Tomorrow, June 28th, 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of what many historians have called the single most impactful event of the 20th century. On that date in 1914, 19-year-old activist Gavrilo Princip shot and murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, ultimately triggering the start of the First World War.

The geopolitical world of 1914 was extremely different from what it is today; it was the culmination of an entire century of empire building by the great powers of Europe, led on by their kings and emperors. The powerful nations raced to gain control of territory in Africa and Asia and formed complex alliances with each other to protect their own interests and exert influence at home. One of those great powers–the Austro-Hungarian Empire–controlled Bosnia, a Slavic state that Slavic nationalists such as Princip, the assassin, thought should be independent or part of a larger Slavic state.