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How far was Britain's declaration of war in 1914 a consequence of her ententes with Russia and France?

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Introduction

How far was Britain's declaration of war in 1914 a consequence of her ententes with Russia and France? The War which was to end almost 100 years of relative peace in Europe had broke out in 1914. This war, which later received the title 'World War One', had lasted from 1914-1918, and claimed more than 10million lives, which forever changed the political map of Europe. Many historians described this war as a war without parallel; hence, its scale of destruction eclipsed all previous wars. The scramble for colonial possessions around the globe inevitably led to conflicts among the European powers and to incidents that diplomacy could not easily solve. Hoping to discourage hostilities, groups of nations formed alliances, which eventually led to the establishment of two opposing camps of nations. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 28th June 1914, by a Serbian nationalist, gave Austro-Hungary an excuse to settle their old disputes with Serbia. This meant if Austro-Hungary retaliated against Serbia, Russia who had promised to protect the Serbs from aggression, would inevitably get involved. Consequently, Nations throughout Europe began preparing their armies for military action to honour their diplomatic alliances. Hence, France backed the Russians, while Germany supported its Austrian ally. However, British attitude towards this mounting crisis, was first to try and prevent war, hence, organising the four-power conference. Nonetheless, as German threat grew, Britain decided that if war was unavoidable it would not stay neutral, but instead back its allies, thus Britain wavered until German armies marched through neutral Belgium to attack France. ...read more.

Middle

On the contrary, the classic reason given by the British government for entering the war was because of the invasion of Belgium by Germany. Germany had initially been developing plans for invasions into every European country since the time of Bismarck. One of the plans, which would assist Germany with this concept, was the Schlieffen Plan. The basic concept of this plan was a quick encirclement that would surround and destroy the enemy. In the past this plan was used for the invasion of France and also for individual conflicts like Battle of Tennenburg. If this plan was to work it was extremely necessary for Germany to put all possible force behind the invasion of France and not to hold any soldiers back in reserve. On the whole, the basic strategy was to end this war quickly by attacking France and immediately overrunning it before Russia had a chance to mobilize. This plan involved attacking Belgium and then proceeding south into France. However, attacking neutral Belgium was totally against Britain's objective, as Belgium was its prime strategic importance. For years Britain had been trying to ensure that no great powers secured control over Belgium, as it would cause great threat towards Britain. In 19 April 1939, Britain along with Austria, France, Prussia and Russia agreed to sign the Treaty of London, which was established after the revolt of 1930, and meant that Belgium should form an independent and neutral state. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore, it seems that in reality, to defend the interests of Britain, the British cabinet had no choice but to declare war on Germany. In conclusion, it seems to me that the reason for which Britain declared war on Germany wasn't entirely because of the invasion of Belgium, but instead, there were many other factors, some of which I have already stated. After carefully examining the circumstances, I have noticed that it was more likely that Britain's declaration of war in 1914 could have been a consequence of her Ententes with France and Russia. On the contrary, the fact that prior to the war, Anglo-German relation was already aggravated, it could be said that Britain's declaration of war against Germany was directly connected with incidents that took place years earlier, such as the Naval Race. In addition to this, we have to bare in mind that, when the war began British cabinet was still trying to solve its domestic problems with Ireland. Therefore, it could be stated that, as civil war in Ireland was highly likely, the best way to reduce the hostility at home would be to declare war against Germany, simply because it would draw attention away from the crisis and also increase national patriotism, which in turn would unite the whole nation. However, I've failed to find many sources that support this view. For that reason, I believe that the main motive for why Britain declared war in 1914 was not entirely because of her Ententes, but instead because of the ever rising Anglo-German bitterness. ...read more.

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