I was always wondering how AH had developed without Franz Joseph, so I started this timeline. 1890 February 3rd Near Bad Ischl Kaiser Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary (AH) was again indulging one of his passions, the hunt. Snow was thickly covering soil and threes and his boots were creaking with every step. His huntsmen had already spotted a royal stag with 10 branches and he was really looking forward to the shot. With him was as always a servant whose task was to ›secure‹ the prey. To say it bluntly it meant to compensate his majesty’s mediocre marksmanship. They were now moving more cautiously because the stag was near and sneaked up a hill. From there both of them should have a good aim. The Kaiser was going down and crawled the last few meters to reach the top. Now he could see the stag clearly; a beautiful deer with lucious brown fur and flawless antlers. He now aimed at it carefully. His servant did the same one meter to the left. Both of them shot simultaneously, so it would not be obvious who hit it. The stag’s head jerked up and a moment later it broke down and stopped moving.»Great shot your majesty. I think mine is gone missing again«, the servant replied. When the servant turned his head Franz Joseph was lying there motionlessly, with his face on the ground. Blood already turned the snow red and his gun was blasted above the rifle’s butt. The explosion killed him in an instant. 5th Karl Ludwig of Austria succeeds his brother as Kaiser. He decides to rule as Karl I. 10th Franz Joseph I is buried in the Kapuzinergruft (Imperial Crypt) in Vienna. Several representatives of foreign states and thousands of people attend the funeral; among them Wilhelm II of Prussia. 12th Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand of Österreich-Este, since the dead of his uncle crown prince of AH, was planning to take the train at Wien Hauptzollamt (today Bahnhof Wien Mitte – a major train station) to return to his garrison. A fiaker (cab) carried him, when he was just having a coughing fit. During a military maneuver some days ago he got soaked and due to the cold weather froze to the bone. His lung was now responding and not in a good way. The coachman was getting worrisome, so he asked the prince. »Do you want to return to the palace or see a doctor your highness? Your coughing sounds serious.« Franz denied. He hoped the coughing would stop of its own and took out a handkerchief. Suddenly it intensified again and he had problems breathing. He had such attacks in the past but never this severe. The coachman was now even more worried and stopped. Franz just wanted him to proceed again, when he realized that he was already coughing a mixture of blood and slime. The coachman panicked. »Holy Mary! Is there a doctor around? My master needs help!« Fortunately an elderly man dressed in a black coat and cylinder was emerging from the crowd at the street side. The stepped man stepped onto the fiaker and took a conscientious look at the Erzherzog and made a number of quickly examinations. »Mr. coachman, please drive us to my surgery. Third street to your left. Hurry!« When they reached the surgery the doctor was finally able to ease the coughing. Franz Ferdinand was now sitting in a comfortable armchair, but was still having trouble to breath freely. Nonetheless he tried to leave. »Thank you for your help Sir. I think I will be fine from now on.« The unknown doctor pressed him back into the armchair and was giving him close look. »You are currently suffering from a severe common cold combined with progressing tuberculosis. Your situation will keep getting worse and worse, if you don’t cure it soon and much more important completely. I strongly recommend your highness a long journey to a country with warm climate like Egypt, India or perhaps South America.« Ferdinand was utterly refusing to believe it and started to chanter about this obviously false diagnosis. He was just about to call the doctor a quack, when the man in black continued. »If you catch another cold next winter I won’t bet on you surviving this. To put it straight you will join your mother in the near future, who also died of this.« Franz Ferdinand went pale. It was true that his mother died of a lung disease and most likely inherited it to him, but he didn’t expect it to be that severe. It took some minutes before the Erzherzog could answer. »I thank you very much for your help and much more for your honesty, Sir. I will try to follow your advice.« He was about to leave, but finally turned around. »Please excuse my bad manners I don’t even know your name, doctor.« »It’s Ignaz Mandl.« 16th The Austrian-Hungarian foreign office unveils the Reinsurance Treaty between Germany and Russia. Kaiser Karl I and his ministers feel betrayed and some voices even demanded to break the alliance with Germany. Due to German nationalistic and antiliberal elements the alliance between Germany and AH remained valid, but the relationship was damaged. Both governments decide to keep the scandal a secret. 18th Count Gyula Andrássy dies of cancer. After losing her husband to an accident and one of her most important friends in short succession former Empress Elisabeth von AH suffers under severe depressions and refuses to leave Schönbrunn palace from now on. 22nd The royal family grants Franz Ferdinand’s wish to suspend his military education and allow him a world journey. The torpedo ram cruiser S.M.S. Leopard will be moved out of reserve just for this purpose. To mask its real intention and quench upcoming rumors about the crown prince’s worsening health it will be announced as a scientific voyage.