Gavrilo Princip (Serbian Cyrillic: Гаврило Принцип,
pronounced [ɡǎʋrilo prǐntsip]; 25 July [O.S. 13
July] 1894 – 28 April 1918) was a
Bosnian Serb member
of Young Bosnia, a
Yugoslavist organization seeking an end to
Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He assassinated
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo
on 28 June 1914, continuing a chain of events that would lead to
outbreak of the First World War. Princip and his accomplices were
arrested and implicated the Serbian nationalist secret society known
as the Black Hand, leading
Austria-Hungary to issue a démarche to
Serbia known as the July Ultimatum. This was used as pretext for
Austria-Hungary's invasion of Serbia, which then led to World War
Princip was a Yugoslav nationalist associated with the movement Mlada
Bosna (Young Bosnia) which predominantly consisted of Serbs, but also
Bosniaks and Croats. During his trial he stated: "I am a Yugoslav
nationalist, aiming for the unification of all Yugoslavs, and I do not
care what form of state, but it must be freed from Austria."
Princip died on April 28, 1918, from tuberculosis caused by poor
prison conditions that had cost him a limb earlier.
1 Early life
2 Assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand
3 Imprisonment and death
8 Further reading
9 External links
Gavrilo Princip's parents, Marija and Petar, in 1927.
Gavrilo Princip was born in the remote hamlet of Obljaj, near Bosansko
Grahovo, on 25 July [O.S. 13 July] 1894. He was the second
of his parents' nine children, six of whom died in infancy. Princip's
mother Marija wanted to name him after her late brother Špiro, but he
was named Gavrilo at the insistence of a local Eastern Orthodox
priest, who claimed that naming the sickly infant after the Archangel
Gabriel would help him survive.
Serb family, the Princips had lived in northwestern Bosnia for many
centuries and adhered to the Serbian Orthodox Christian faith.
Princip's parents, Petar and Marija (née Mićić), were poor farmers
who lived off the little land that they owned. They belonged to a
class of Christian peasants known as kmets (serfs), who were often
oppressed by their Muslim landlords. Petar, who insisted on
"strict correctness", never drank or swore and was ridiculed by his
neighbours as a result. In his youth, he fought in the Herzegovina
Uprising against the Ottoman Empire. Following the revolt, he
returned to being a farmer in the Grahovo valley, where he worked
approximately 4 acres (1.6 ha; 0.0063 sq mi) of land
and was forced to give one-third of his income away to his landlord.
As he could not grow enough grain to feed his family, he resorted to
transporting mail and passengers across the mountains separating
northwestern Bosnia from
Dalmatia in order to supplement his
Despite his father's opposition, Princip first began attending primary
school in 1903, aged nine. He overcame a difficult first year and
became very successful in his studies, for which he was awarded a
collection of Serbian epic poetry by his headmaster. At the age of
13, Princip moved to Sarajevo, where his older brother Jovan intended
to enroll him into an Austro-Hungarian military school. By the
time Princip reached Sarajevo, Jovan had changed his mind after a
friend advised him not to make Gavrilo "an executioner of his own
people". Princip was enrolled into a merchant school instead.
Jovan paid for his tuition with the money he had earned performing
manual labour, carrying logs from the forests surrounding
mills within the city. After three years of study, Gavrilo
transferred to a local gymnasium.  In 1910, he came to revere
Bogdan Žerajić, a
Bosnian Serb revolutionary who attempted to
assassinate Marijan Varešanin, the Austro-Hungarian Governor of
Bosnia and Herzegovina, before taking his own life. In 1911,
Young Bosnia (Serbian: Mlada Bosna), a society that
wanted to separate Bosnia from
Austria-Hungary and unite it with the
neighbouring Kingdom of Serbia. Because the local authorities had
forbidden students from forming organizations and clubs, Princip and
other members of
Young Bosnia met in secret. During their meetings,
they discussed literature, ethics and politics.
Young Bosnia members, ca. 1911.
Trifko Grabež, Milan Ciganović and Princip in Kalemegdan, Belgrade,
In 1912, Princip was expelled from school for being involved in a
demonstration against Austro-Hungarian authorities. A student who
witnessed the incident claimed that "Princip went from class to class,
threatening with his knuckle-duster all the boys who wavered in coming
to the new demonstrations." Princip left
Sarajevo shortly after
being expelled and made the 280 kilometres (170 mi) journey to
Belgrade on foot. According to one account, he fell to his knees and
kissed the ground upon crossing the border into Serbia. In Belgrade,
Princip volunteered to join the Serbian guerrilla bands fighting the
Ottoman Turks, under the leadership of Major Vojislav Tankosić.
Tankosić was a member of the Black Hand, the foremost conspiratorial
society in Serbia at the time.
At first, Princip was rejected at a recruitment office in Belgrade
because of his small stature. Enraged, he tracked down Tankosić
himself, who also told him that he was too small and weak.
Humiliated, Princip returned to Bosnia and lodged with his brother in
Sarajevo. He spent the next several months moving back and forth
Sarajevo and Belgrade. In
Belgrade he met Živojin
Rafajlović, one of the founders of the Serbian Chetnik Organization,
who sent him (alongside 15 other
Young Bosnia members) to the Chetnik
training centre in Vranje. There they met with school manager
Mihajlo Stevanović-Cupara. He lived in Cupara's house, which is today
Gavrilo Princip Street in Vranje. Princip practiced
shooting, using bombs and the blade, after which training was
completed and he returned to Belgrade.
In 1913, while Princip was staying in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary
declared a state of emergency, implemented martial law, seized control
of all schools and prohibited all
Serb cultural organizations.
Assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
A map depicting the assassination route.
The Latin Bridge
On 28 June 1914,
Gavrilo Princip participated in the assassination in
Sarajevo of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife,
Duchess Sophie Chotek of Austria. The emperor of Austria-Hungary,
Emperor Franz Joseph told his nephew, the Archduke to oversee military
training in Bosnia. Franz Ferdinand knew that the visit would be
dangerous; his uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph, had been the subject of an
assassination attempt by the Black Hand in 1911.
Just before 10 a.m. on Sunday, the royal couple arrived in
Sarajevo by train. The royal couple were then to take an
automobile into the city. In the front car was Fehim Čurčić, the
Sarajevo and Dr. Edmund Gerde, the city's Commissioner of
Police. Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were in the second car with
Oskar Potiorek and Lieutenant Colonel Count Franz von Harrach. The
car's top was rolled back in order to allow the crowds a good view of
The six conspirators lined the route. They were spaced out along the
Appel Quay, each one with instructions to try to kill Franz Ferdinand
when the royal car reached his position. The first conspirator on the
route to see the royal car was Muhamed Mehmedbašić. Standing by the
Austro-Hungarian Bank, Mehmedbašić lost his nerve and allowed the
car to pass without taking action. Mehmedbašić later said that a
policeman was standing behind him and feared he would be arrested
before he had a chance to throw his bomb. At 10:15, when the
six-car procession passed the central police station,
Nedeljko Čabrinović hurled a hand grenade
at the Archduke's car. The driver accelerated when he saw the object
flying towards him, but the bomb had a 10-second delay and exploded
under the wheel of the fourth car. Two of the occupants, Eric von
Merizzi and Count Alexander von Boos-Waldeck, were seriously wounded.
About a dozen spectators were also hit by bomb shrapnel. After
Čabrinović's bomb missed the car, five other conspirators, including
Princip, lost an opportunity to attack because of the heavy crowds and
the car's high speed. To avoid capture, Čabrinović swallowed a
cyanide capsule and jumped into the
Miljacka river to make sure he
died. However, the cyanide pill was decayed and only made him sick,
and the river was only 10 centimetres (4 in) deep. He was
soon hauled out and detained by police.
Franz Ferdinand later decided to go to the hospital and visit the
victims of Čabrinović's grenade attack. In order to avoid the city
Oskar Potiorek decided that the royal car should
travel straight along the Appel Quay to the
However, Potiorek forgot to inform the driver, Leopold Loyka, about
this decision. On the way to the hospital, Loyka took a right turn
into Franz Josef Street. Princip was standing near Moritz Schiller's
café when he spotted the car as it drove past, having taken the wrong
turn. After realizing the mistake, the driver put his foot on the
brake, and began to reverse. In doing so the engine stalled and the
gears locked, giving Princip his opportunity. Princip stepped forward,
drew his pistol, an FN Model 1910, and at a distance of about 1.5
metres (5 ft) fired twice into the car, first hitting Franz
Ferdinand in the neck, and then hitting his wife Sophie in the
abdomen, after she covered his body. They both died before 11:00 am.
Imprisonment and death
Gavrilo Princip outside the courthouse
Princip, seated in the centre of the first row, on trial on 5 December
The cell where Princip was kept
Princip attempted suicide with a cyanide pill, but it was out-of-date
(as also Čabrinović's had been, leading the police to believe the
group had been deceived buying the poison), then tried to shoot
himself, but the pistol was wrestled from his hand before he had a
chance to fire another shot. Princip was nineteen years old at the
time and too young to receive the death penalty, being twenty-seven
days short of the twenty-year minimum age limit required by Habsburg
law. Instead, he received the maximum sentence of twenty years in
prison. He was held in harsh conditions which were worsened by the
war, and contracted tuberculosis. He died on 28 April 1918 at
Terezín 3 years and 10 months after the assassination. At the time of
his death, weakened by malnutrition and disease, he weighed around 40
kilograms (88 lb; 6 st 4 lb). His body had become
wracked by skeletal tuberculosis that ate away his bones so badly that
his right arm had to be amputated.
Fearing his bones might become relics for Slavic nationalists,
Princip's prison guards secretly took the body to an unmarked grave,
but a Czech soldier assigned to the burial remembered the location,
and in 1920 Princip and the other "Heroes of Vidovdan" were exhumed
and brought to Sarajevo, where they were buried together beneath a
chapel "built to commemorate for eternity our
Serb Heroes" at St.
FN Model 1910
FN Model 1910 pistol, Museum of Military History, Vienna,
Princip's pistol was confiscated by the authorities and eventually
given, along with the Archduke's bloody undershirt, to Anton Puntigam,
a Jesuit priest who was a close friend of the Archduke and had given
the Archduke and his wife the last rites. The pistol and shirt
remained in the possession of the Austrian Jesuits until they were
offered on long-term loan to the Museum of Military History in Vienna
in 2004. It is now part of the permanent exhibition there. The
weapon is a 9-mm "9 short",
.380 ACP pistol FN Browning Model 1910
made in Belgium by
Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal
Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal with the serial number
Belgrade which is calling for "Revolt"
The house where
Gavrilo Princip lived in
Sarajevo was destroyed during
World War I. After the war, it was rebuilt as a museum in the Kingdom
of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was conquered by Germany in 1941 and
Sarajevo became part of the Independent State of Croatia. The Croatian
Ustaše destroyed the house again. After the establishment of
Communist Yugoslavia in 1944, the house of
Gavrilo Princip became a
museum again and there was another museum dedicated to him within the
city of Sarajevo. During the
Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, the house
Gavrilo Princip was destroyed a third time and rebuilt for the
third time in 2015. Prior to 1992 the site on the pavement on
which Princip stood to fire the fatal shots was marked by embossed
footprints. These were destroyed as a consequence of the 1992–95 war
in Bosnia. There is still a plaque in front of the museum at the spot
Gavrilo Princip stood when he fired the shots.
A bust of Princip was erected by the locals in Tovariševo, Serbia on
21 April 2014, unveiled by filmmaker
Emir Kusturica and writer Matija
Bećković. A statue was erected in East
Sarajevo on the centenary
of the assassination in 2014.
A statue of Princip was erected in
Belgrade on the symbolic Vidovdan,
28 June 2015, unveiled by President of Serbia
Tomislav Nikolić and
President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik, as a gift from Republika
Srpska to Serbia. At the unveiling Nikolić gave a speech, saying
in part: "Princip was a hero, a symbol of liberation ideas,
tyrant-murderer, idea-holder of liberation from slavery, which spanned
In socialist Yugoslavia,
Gavrilo Princip was venerated as a national
hero and a freedom fighter who fought to liberate all the peoples of
Yugoslavia from Austrian rule; however in the modern day, many Croats
Bosniaks have now expressed viewpoints characterizing Princip as a
"terrorist" and some believe that he was a supporter of Greater
Serbs continue to venerate his memory, with Nenad
Samardzija, governor of East Sarajevo, saying that the assassination
was not a terrorist act but "a movement of young people who wanted to
liberate themselves from colonial slavery".
^ a b Dedijer 1966, pp. 187–188.
^ a b Johnson, Lonnie (1989). Introducing Austria: A short history.
pp. 52–54. ISBN 0-929497-03-1.
^ Gilbert, Martin (1995). First World War. HarperCollins.
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^ Dedijer 1966, p. 341.
^ Fromkin 2007, pp. 121–122.
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^ a b Fabijančić 2010, p. xxii.
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^ a b c d Kidner et al. 2013, p. 756.
^ Schlesser 2005, p. 95.
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1917. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
^ Irić, Radoman (2 October 2013). "Ovde je
Gavrilo Princip učio da
puca " [This is where
Gavrilo Princip learnt to shoot].
Serbian). Belgrade. p. 21. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
^ a b Stokesbury, James (1981). A Short History of World War I. New
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^ Burns, Tracy. "'June 28, 1914: The first attempt'".
www.private-prague-guide.com/. Retrieved 27 January 2015. On June 28,
1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand 'Este and his wife Duchess of Hohenberg
Sarajevo by train shortly before 10 am
^ Clark, Christopher. "First Shot of World War I".
www.historynet.com/. Retrieved 27 January 2015. On the morning of
Sunday, June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir apparent to the
Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie Chotek von Chotkowa und
Wognin, arrived by train in the city of
Sarajevo and boarded a
motorcar for the ride down the Appel Quay to the City Hall. There were
six vehicles in the motorcade. In the lead car was a security detail.
In the second car were the mayor of Sarajevo, Fehim Effendi Curcic,
dressed in a fez and a dark suit, and the
commissioner, Dr. Edmund Gerdemotor.
^ a b Donnelley, Paul (2012). Assassination!. p. 33.
ISBN 978-1-908963-03-1. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
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^ Malmberg, Ilkka: Tästä alkaa maailmansota. [This is the beginning
of World War I]
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^ Rodna kuća Gavrila Principa: Obnovljena i zaboravljena (in Serbian)
^ "DA SE NE ZABORAVI: Meštani Tovariševa sami podigli spomenik
Principu!" [NOT FORGETTING: villagers themselves erected a monument to
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2014 (retrieved June 22, 2015).
^ Serbia: Belgrade's monument to Franz Ferdinand assassin, BBC News,
June 8, 2015 (retrieved June 22, 2015).
^ a b "Ne dozvoljavam vređanje poklanih Srba" [I do not allow insults
to slaughtered Serbs]. B92. 2015-06-28.
^ Matt Robinson; Daria Sito-Sucic (11 March 2004). "An assassin
divides his native Bosnia 100 years on". Reuters. Archived from the
original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
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Gavrilo Princips Bekenntnisse. Zwei Manuscripte Princips,
Aufzeichungen Seines Gefängnispsychiaters Dr. Pappenheim Aus
Gesprächen Von Feber ... Über Das Attentat, Princips Leben und
Seine Politischen und Sozialen Anschauungen. Mit Einführung und
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gavrilo Princip.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Gavrilo Princip
Wikisource has the text of a 1920
Encyclopedia Americana article about
"Who's Who in World War I: Gavrilo Princip". firstworldwar.com.
Gavrilo Princip's Statement from 12 October 1914 in Court at Sarajevo
(from Dolph Owings's "The
"Did teenage anarchists trigger World War I? What were the politics of
the assassins of Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914?". libcom.org. June
14, 2014. , including prison interview with
Gavrilo Princip after
Ideology and political methods
Related people and events
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Serb riots in Sarajevo
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