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How far can the Alliance System Be Considered a Factor of the First World War?

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How far can the Alliance System Be Considered a Factor of the First World War? The Prussian victory over France in1870, and the creation of the German Empire, led to a dramatic shift in the European balance of power, and to an international system in which Germany, (by now the strongest military power on the Continent and one with large and expanding industrial resources,) necessarily played a leading role. It was up to Bismarck to invent a type of foreign policy. His name has now been associated with a style of diplomacy, which is dishonest, known as "Realpolitik". It was through this kind of diplomacy, which resulted in various treaties being drawn up. The reason for this was that Bismarck intrigued, bluffed and frightened other ambassadors and foreign ministers into doing his will. For example, in 1887, a "reinsurance" treaty was drawn up between Russia and Germany, as Bismarck had read the Austrian Ambassador the exact text from the German-Austrian treaty. ...read more.


Austria would also help Italy against France, but Italy would only help Austria against Russia if France joined in on Russia's side. By now, Berlin was regarded as the diplomatic capital of Europe. The secret treaties gave Bismarck control of European politics and allowed Germany to gain colonies overseas as a way of diverting European rivalry and improving relations with France. The Reinsurance Treaty, 1887 After the second Bulgarian crisis, Bulgaria increased in size, and became a favourite of Austria. Also, the Three Emperor's Alliance was dissolved due to Russian opposition of it. This therefore led to the reinsurance treaty, being formed, stating that each country would remain neutral if either of them went to war with a third great power. However, if Germany were to attack France, or if Russia attacked Austria-Hungary. This meant that Germany could not be involved in a two-fronted war, if she attacked France, as there was nothing to stop Russia from aiding the French. ...read more.


Russia remained loyal to France, and Britain feared German domination in Europe. Britain's support for the French strengthened the Entente Cordiale, and made reconciliation between Britain and Russia possible, since France had convinced Russia to drop its Duel Alliance clauses against Britain. Although the Alliance System was important in the causes of the First World War, it was not the only cause. For example, other events such as the growing feelings of nationalism can be held as greatly responsible. For example, the sudden desire to be one powerful nation in Europe, led to a sudden cause of militarism. This was an increase in military spending. Germany armies and navies increased dramatically. In conclusion, the Alliance System was a major factor, as it meant that when one country fell into war, the alliances and agreements meant that their allies were obliged to help. In other words, the alliance system may be seen as a kind of domino effect, as it dragged all the Great Powers into a war, when if there were not any agreements, this probably not have happened. Rochelle Enticknap 8th October 2002 Anglo European School History ...read more.

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