The First World War, as every schoolboy knows, was sparked by the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo by the Serbian terrorist, Gavrilo Princip. The royal party took a wrong turn, and the assassin took a wrong turn, and by chance they came face to face. The gun went off. A million others followed. Later, when Princip was asked in prison what he thought would have happened if he had failed, he said, in effect, that the Germans would have found another pretext to go to war. He might have been right. Europe at the time was powder keg waiting for a fuse to be lit. But he might have been wrong. Perhaps the right conjunction of events would never have occurred.
Nevertheless, there are many instances where the course of history has turned on chance. Let us examine a few.