This essay will outline the factors that led to the First World War, these include: Alliances, Imperialism, Militarism and the assassination of Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The First World War started on the 28th of July 1914 and finally ended on the 11th of November 1918. The formation of Alliances was one factor that significantly contributed to the commencement of World War One. These alliances allowed smaller countries with weaker military forces to seek help from larger and more powerful nations.
This is done by, both governments signing a treaty, which states when a country declares war the allies of that country, have no option but to declare war as well, therefor a chain reaction occurred with multiple countries. The most famous alliances were The Triple Alliance between Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary and The Triple Entente between Russia, France and Britain. (Tomaszewski, 2002). Alliances were believed to keep the peace between countries, however this was not the case since the rivalry between nations was too great, countries and colonies all wanted to be with the most powerful ally for protection and support.
The alliances themselves contributed to the start of World War One because they triggered more and more nations to enter the war as it progressed this caused a large number of unnecessary casualties from countries that didn’t need to be involved. If there were no alliances in the First World War each country would have been fighting for themselves, but these alliances resulted in compulsory attendance by other countries which led to The Great War being an international affair. (Hamilton, R. & Herwig, H. 2003).
The start of World War One was partly a result of Imperialism: an unequal relationship, often in the form of an empire, forced on other countries resulting in domination of territory, economy and culture. Britain ruled about 25% of the world’s countries around the time of World War One, and it was often said that ‘the sun never sets on the British Empire’ because of its span across the globe ensured the sun was always shining somewhere in a British colony. Germany wanted to expand to keep up with the larger nations; they did so very quickly which sparked concern throughout Britain and France (Louis, W. 006). When the war began all the major European powers had built up significant overseas colonial empires with Britain and France leading the way. Due to Germany building their colonies late they were left with small countries which the German nationalists were not happy about, there was a great deal of jealousy from Germany in regards to the British and French empires. Furthermore, Britain in particular, used its navy to dominate overseas trade, which also provided a source of irritation to the Germans.
The Germans embarked on a program of massive naval spending in order to create a navy capable of challenging Britain’s domination of the sea. This triggered considerable concern in Britain and caused tensions between the Germans and the British to rise. Imperialism directly led to a naval arms race between the two countries. Imperialism seems to be the main underlying cause of World War One, It was human greed for wealth and power and the envy of others, which caused the First World War.
Militarism also contributed to the First World War by increasing the European divide, which led to a race between powerful countries, primarily Britain and Germany, to have the best Armed Forces. This is knows as the Arms Race. (Ellis ;amp; Cox, 2001). Countries wanted to exert their imperial dominance, as a result, European powers tried to outdo other countries in terms of military power. As a country increased their military power with larger armies and more weapons, other countries would do the same.
This in turn became known as the Arms Race and Militarism helped build the foundation of war, which was triggered by the assassination of Duke Ferdinand. Finally, The assassination of Duke Franz Ferdinand was the leading event that caused the unavoidable breakout of World War One. Franz Ferdinand was the Arch Duke of Austria-Hungary, first in line to the throne. A Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated him and his wife Sophie on the 28th June 1913. (Remak, 1959). The car that the Duke and Duchess were driving in was reversing when Princip approached them and shot Sophie in the stomach and Franz in the neck.
The Duke’s dying words to his wife were “Don’t die darling, live for our children. ” Beyer (2007, p 146-147). The Duke died within minutes while his wife died en route to the hospital. The First World War began a month after this event occurred; Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia for the attack on their Duke and Duchess. In conclusion, The Assassination of the Duke and Duchess of Austria-Hungary was the spark that caused the war to commence. Once the assassination happened; Alliances, Imperialism and Militarism all played a part in shaping one of the worlds most devastating wars.