The Cause of World War I

The Cause of World War I
There is not just one reason alone why the wwi started, one moment two countries would be fighting and then straight after another country could be fighting. Europe was pretty much at each others throats from 1871 until the war started in 1914. The many long term causes were building lots of tension between the complex alliances and eventually the tension would grow so big and would only need one thing to spark off a world war. In this essay I will discuss the main long and short term causes of The Great War and what effect they had. The ?Triple Alliance? and ?Triple Entente? First of all, the main powers in Europe were Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia. The aim of these countries was to keep a ?balance of power? to prevent large scale wars. There were two main alliances during the wwi. In 1882, Germany, Austria-Hungaryand Italy signed a document stating they would give each other military support if there was a war. This was called ?The Triple Alliance.? The second alliance was ?The Triple Entente.? This included Great Britain, France and Russia. An alliance was formed in 1894 between France and Russia and in 1904 Great Britain decided to come out of ?Splendid Isolation? and join the ?Entente Cordiale. These two alliances could help prevent war but could also create a total war, if one country had argument the other two may have to join in, but now Germany was in the middle of what it had been trying to avoid for years, isolated by two potential enemies. Map of countries in the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance Long term causes The Scramble for Colonies By 1800 Britain and France had large empires, Italy and Germany though had only become united countries in 1870 and these also wanted overseas colonies. This was called ?The Scramble for Colonies? and it caused disputes and tension which could soon turn into a short term cause and spark war. The Anglo-German Naval Race As Great Britain was an island it needed a large navy and only a small army, this they had. Britain?s navy was the strongest navy about and had been for a very long time. Britain based the strength of her navy on the ?Two Power Standard.? This meant that Britain?s navy could battle and defeat any two navies in the world! On the other hand Germany wanted an empire as large as France?s or Britain?s so they needed to expand their trade, mainly because of expansion in war and military, and as most of her trade was done over seas she needed a large navy to protect her ships while they were travelling from country to country. With Germany?s only coast being next to Britain she would need a navy as strong as The Royal Navy, if not it would be easy for Britain to trap Germany and stop all their trade causing major problems! As the naval race started both countries started to produce battleships faster than ever and Germany was sure Great Britain would not be able to keep up. But this was wrong because the cost of creating these battleships for Britain was much less of there total income than in other countries. In 1906 hms Dreadnought was launched. This was a new fast battleship with very large guns and rendered any other battleship obsolete. Soon after Germanyreleased their own version of a ?Dreadnought,? Germany was always one step behind The Royal Navy. By 1914 Britain had built 29 Dreadnoughts and Germany had only built 17. Franco-German Hostility France has always been hostile towards Germanysince the Franco-Prussian war where France lost Alsace and Loraine, some very valuable land, good for farming. France wanted revenge and felt threatened by her powerful neighbour Germany. Trouble in the Balkans There had been trouble in the Balkans for many years with the first of the two wars in 1912. Small nations such as Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Herzegovina and other states wanted independence from large countries, Turkey, Greece and Austria. In the early 20th century the Balkan states gained independence from Turkey, this led Austria-Hungary to believe the Balkans were open for domination but Russia backed the small Balkan nations for independence partly because these were Slavic (people who live in eastern European countries, like Russia, Serbia, Montenegro and Herzegovina) and partly because Russia also had a change of ruling here. [image] A map of the Balkans Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Tensions between Serbia and Austria were high in 1914. A young student, and member of the Black Hand, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, on June 28th 1914, on his visit to Sarajevo, as he drove past a crowd in an open topped car. He and his wife were shot with a pistol and were soon dead. After three weeks Austria delivered an ultimatum to Serbia. She wanted:
Serbia to take full responsibility for the murder, though Gavrilo
Princip was not Serbian but Bosnian.
The right to police ?anti-Austrian? groups within Serbia.
The right to prosecute these and other conspirators in Austrian
Serbia was given 48 hours to accept the ultimatum, declining it would mean war. After talking with Russia Serbia declined the ultimatum and Austria declared war on Serbia. In conclusion, the complex alliances caused the small troubles in the Balkans to turn into a World War. Austria gained support from Germany whilst Serbia gained support from Russia and France, and Britain only came into the war when Germany invaded Belgium, while in the Schlieffen, trying to get to France. So you can see how a few gun shots led to the largest and bloodiest war ever!

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