Could the Bulletproof Silk Vest Stop the Assassination Which Sparked WWI? Tests Say Yes

The Royal Armouries confirmed that the bulletproof silk vest has the capabilities to stop bullets. Unfortunately, Archduke Franz Ferdinand forgot to wear one on the day of his assassination.

The Royal Armouries is set to test the bullet-stopping capacity of the bulletproof silk vest invented by the Polish inventor Casimir Zeglen. The creator of the bulletproof silk vest made it using organic materials most particularly silk. They were, then, made available throughout the globe by the 1900s and many state heads bought them for life preservation.

The Archduke even bought himself one. He was cognizant of threats against his life. A similar attempt had been with his uncle. Besides, he had been warned that his visit could turn the unrest in Sarajevo for the worse. But then, he did not wear his bulletproof silk vest the day he died. And a month later, on July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia. Allies of these two warring sides were drawn on August 4 and the First World War, the war that would change world history, broke out.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

The Royal Armouries has replicas of the bulletproof silk vest in its possession. These said replicas were made to the exact specifications of the original patent. Additionally, the museum is testing these replicas with weapons and ammunition very similar to the one Princip used, the 1910 Browning semi-automatic pistol.

The tests are still ongoing. However, the bullet-stopping capabilities of the bulletproof silk vest have already been established.

First World War researcher of The Royal Armouries, Lisa Traynor, commented how her interest was piqued when she came upon the pistol same as what Princip used for the assassination. She recounted that as she was examining the Browning, she saw its serial number was only 516 away from the actual one used during the murder of the Archduke. She, then, realized that the pistol she was examining was most likely manufactured the same time as the one Princip had in his hand that fateful day.

It, then, put this thought in her mind — what if the Archduke didn’t die that day? Would it have delayed the onset of the First World War?

In line of her interest, Miss Traynor began to delve deep into the subject. With the help of international academics, she was able to deduce that there was a very great possibility the Archduke owned a bulletproof silk vest. The museum’s First World War team, then, thought what great interest would it be if the bulletproof silk vest is tested to prove its bulletproof capacity.

The results of the tests as well as the replicas will go on display in September. They will be exhibited in the Bullets, Blades and Battle Bowlers exhibition.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE