Princess Sophie of Hohenberg

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Princess Sophie
Princess of Hohenberg
Princess Sophie von Hohenberg-1.jpg
Princess Sophie von Hohenberg, c.1914.
Born (1901-07-24)24 July 1901
Konopiště, Kingdom of Bohemia
Died 27 October 1990(1990-10-27) (aged 89)
Thannhausen, Austria
Spouse Count Friedrich von Nostitz-Rieneck
Issue Count Erwein von Nostitz-Rieneck
Count Franz von Nostitz-Rieneck
Count Aloys von Nostitz-Rieneck
Countess Sophie von Nostitz-Rieneck
Father Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Mother Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg
Princess Sophie c.1910

Princess Sophie of Hohenberg (German: Sophie Fürstin von Hohenberg, fully Sophie Marie Franziska Antonia Ignatia Alberta von Hohenberg, Czech: Žofie z Hohenbergu; (1901-07-24)24 July 1901, Konopiště – 27 October 1990(1990-10-27), Thannhausen) was the only daughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his morganatic wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, both of whom were assassinated at Sarejevo on 28 June 1914. Their assassination triggered off the First World War. Sophie and her two brothers are sometimes described as the first orphans of the First World War.[1]

Early life[edit]

Princess Sophie was born on 24 July 1901 at Konopiště chateau, in the Czech Republic, fifty kilometres south-east of Prague. This chateau, situated in Bohemia, was the favourite home of the Archduke and his wife.[2] On 29 September 1902, the couple's first son, Maximilian, was born. A second son, Ernst, followed on 17 May 1904. In 1908, Countess Sophie became pregnant again, but the fourth child, a boy, was stillborn on 7 November 1908.[3]

Since the Archduke had sworn an oath that any children he had with his wife, Sophie, could never succeed to the throne,[4] he envisaged a future for them that would be normal and tranquil. He wanted his sons to lead the uncomplicated life of a country squire, while he intended that his daughter, Little Sophie, would be happy at the side of a socially suitable partner whom she loved. He hoped that his children would grow up to be private individuals who could enjoy life without material worries, while leading lives of anonymity. Little Sophie later said that she and her brothers were brought up to know they were nothing special. She stated that her father had been firm with his children, but never harsh or unjust.[5]

After assassination[edit]

After the assassination of her parents, Sophie and her two surviving brothers, Maximilian and Ernst, were taken in by their father's close friend and shooting partner, Prince Jaroslav von Thun und Hohenstein.

In late 1918, their properties in Czechoslovakia including Konopiště and Chlumec nad Cidlinou were confiscated by the Czech government. The children moved to Vienna and Schloß Artstetten. Sophie married Count Friedrich von Nostitz-Rieneck (1891–1973), son of Count Erwein Felix von Nostitz-Rieneck and Countess Amalia von Podstatzky-Lichtenstein on 8 September 1920. They had four children:

  • Count Erwein Maximilian Franz Peter Paul Hubertus Konrad Maria von Nostitz-Rieneck (1921–1949); died in a Soviet POW camp
  • Count Franz von Assisi Friedrich Ernst Leopold Josef Maria von Nostitz-Rieneck (1923–1945); killed on the Eastern Front
  • Count Aloys Karl Joseph Maria von Nostitz-Rieneck (1925–2003) married 1962 Countess Theresia von Waldburg-Zeil (b. 1931)
  • Countess Sophie Amalia Theresia Quirinia Henriette Lucretia Magdalena Maria Ignatia von Nostitz-Rieneck (born 1929) married 1953 Baron Ernst von Gudenus (1916–1972)

In 1938, following the Anschluss (the union of Austria and Germany under Adolf Hitler), her brothers Maximilian and Ernst were arrested by the Gestapo as a result of making anti-Nazi statements and deported to Dachau concentration camp. Their properties in Austria were confiscated by Nazi authorities.[6] They both survived their imprisonment in Dachau.

Sophie's husband died in 1973,[7] after which she led a quiet life in Austria, accompanied at times by her grandchildren. In 1981, she visited Konopiste for the first time in sixty years. During this visit, she talked of how happy her family life had been there.[8]

Sophie lived to be 89 years old, dying in October 1990. She was laid to rest beside the body of her husband in the family crypt of her son-in-law, Baron Ernst Gudenus, at Weizberg near Thannhausen, in Austria.[9] She had outlived both of her younger siblings.

Letter to Nedeljko Cabrinovic[edit]

During the trial of the men accused of murdering Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the only defendant to express remorse was Nedeljko Cabrinovic, who expressed his regrets for what he had done and apologized to the children of the victims. Princess Sophie and her brothers were told about Cabrinovic's apology and wrote a letter to him. In the letter, they said they had heard about his apology and stated that his conscience could be at peace because they forgave him for his role in the murder of their parents. Sophie and Max signed the letter; Ernst refused. The letter was delivered personally to Cabrinovic in his cell at Theresienstadt, in Bohemia, by the Jesuit Father Anton Puntigam, who had given the last rites to Franz Ferdinand and his wife. On 23 January 1916, Princess Sophie and her brothers were informed that Cabrinovic had died.[10]

Fictional appearances[edit]

A fictional version of Princess Sophie, played by Danish actress Amalie Ihle Alstrup, appeared in "Vienna, November 1908", an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles later re-edited to form half of The Perils of Cupid. Young Indy falls in love with the princess and shares his first kiss with her, but is forbidden from seeing her further. Several times through the series, he is shown wearing a locket that contains her picture which she gave to him.


External links[edit]


  1. ^ The Assassination of the Archduke, Greg King, Sue Woolmans (Macmillan) 2013, p.XXXIV ISBN 978-1-447-24521-6
  2. ^ The Assassination of the Archduke, p.120
  3. ^ The Assassination of the Archduke, p.119
  4. ^ The Assassination of the Archduke, p.58
  5. ^ The Assassination of the Archduke, p.107
  6. ^ Sophie Hohenberg Site
  7. ^ The Assassination of the Archduke, p.273
  8. ^ The Assassination of the Archduke, p.273
  9. ^ The Assassination of the Archduke, p.273
  10. ^ The Assassination of the Archduke, p.246