• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent was Imperialism the key cause of World War One ?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent was Imperialism the key cause of World War One ? The 19th century was witness to some incredibly powerful and far reaching change. By the late 19th century not only had the geo-political face of Europe radically changed, but the forces of Nartionalism, Imperialism and Militarism were influencing events that would ultimately lead up to the outbreak of the Great War. Imperialism can be defined as 'the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies'. This could be taken to include events within Europe itself, as much as those on the edge and outside European boundaries. However, the varied significance of each of these forces' role in causing the Great War, notably the role of Imperialism, can be debated. Imperialism was, in a number of ways, a significant cause of WW1. Much of the change in general European relations can be dated to the implementation of Weltpolitik. As Germany moved towards the more aggressive and expansionistic attitudes under Wilhelm II's chancellors, many European countries began to fear Germany's intentions and feel antagonistic towards her. Britain in particular felt threatened due to the competition created by the naval race. ...read more.

Middle

Britain's status as the number one power was absolutely linked to her empire as much as her industry. The rise of the imperialistic ambitions of European nations before the war can therefore be linked to the force of nationalism. Nationalism also lay at the heart of French hostility towards Germany, having lost Alsace-Lorraine in 1871. Germany's Weltpolitik was also inspired by a desire to make herself as great a world power as Britain. Nationalism was also one of the factors that led to the Dual Alliance between Austria-Hungary and Germany. However, the role of nationalism was of most significance in the Balkans. Fearing the strength of Pan-Slavism, and especially the impact it might have on her nationalistically divided empire, Austria-Hungary felt compelled to expand her influence in the region (such as the annexation of Bosnia). This in turn provoked a nationalistic response from the Slavs, supported by their fellow Slavic nation; Russia. The spark that led to WW1 was caused by the nationalistically inspired assassination of Franz Ferdinand, which gave Austria the excuse she needed to 'resolve' the problem of Slav nationalism further. Supported by the nationalistically driven aims of Germany, the ultimatum was nothing but a pretext for war. ...read more.

Conclusion

Much of the mistrust between nations was due to ther aggressive, expansionistic nature of much European nationalism. However, the rise of Militarism, the belief that it is necessary to have strong armed forces and that they should be used in order to win political or economic advantages, was only going to make a difficult job impossible. The growth of military power, both naval and land based, could only be regarded with suspicion and fear. Nevertheless, it was militarism that helped to hamper negotiations, but wasn't the key reason for war. In conclusion, it is clear that imperialism was a significant cause of the war, however, it was the changing geo-political situation post 1871 that set the scene into which the force of nationalism in particular, with the closely linked force of imperialism came into play. The aggressive and expansionistic nature of these forces led to rivalry, and when linked with militarism as well, fear. These factors would lead to the medium and short term causes of the war. However, of the three principal causes, imperialism was the least important, as the roots of New Imperialism lay largely with nationalism, a force when combined with the geo-political challenges of the time, ensured that a peaceful resolution of these rivalries and conflicts was tragically not forthcoming. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate History essays

  1. To What Extent Were Hitlers Policies the Cause of World War II?

    This event combined with the expansion of the German navy through the Anglo-German naval agreement in June 1935 allowing the German navy to expand to 35% of the British one, were all successful policies followed by Hitler and had the similar results as German expansion mentioned above.

  2. What was the Effect of Nationalism on World War I?

    So, rivalry between the nations had only exacerbated during the 1880s due to colonization - which furthermore made most of Asia and Africa under European ruling in the following years. An example of this was the scramble of Morocco, which nearly led to war between France and Germany.

  1. the importance of the role of Bismarck in the unification of Germany in 1871

    von Bismarck, the man who has been acclaimed as the master-planner behind the German Unification in 1871. Since his appointment as Chief Minister of Prussia in 1862, Bismarck's main goal was to increase the strength of the Prussian nation, and as he saw it, military strength was what defined a strong nation.

  2. The cold war - the conferences and the start of the cCold War

    Decisions were mostly taken in Moscow and COMECON conferences, which gave the appearance of free negotiation usually followed the COMECON lead - The system favored the USSR more than other members: a) The USSR was given a market to sell its goods b)

  1. What Effect Did World War II have on Eastern Europe?

    The period before World War Two is known as Romania's Golden Age. There were a plethora of well-regarded, painters, sculptors, artists, poets, and writers. In medicine, Romanian scientist Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin10. Universities were opened in several Romanian cities. After World War Two, however, the communist government imposed severe censorship on the population.

  2. To what extent did Alexander II's reforms cause more problems than they solved?

    It seems that Alexander II's rule had a clear pattern of liberalism - which raised people's expectations- then conservatism -which infuriated people as their previously granted liberty was taken away. In this sense what historian Hugh Seton-Watson wrote is completely true: 'The reign of Alexander II, which began with bright promise, and changed to dreary stagnation, ended in tragedy.'

  1. American Anti-Imperialism vs. Imperialism

    The Anti-Imperialist League which condemned American action in the Philippines and denounced "the slaughter of the Filipinos as a needless horror." Imperialism was defined as the "pursuit of un-American ends." Their opposition to imperialism ran the breadth from distress over the costs necessary to maintain an empire to the immorality

  2. To what extent did militarism contribute to the origins of the First World War ...

    formation of the Balkan League as it saw it as a great opportunity for a tool against Austria-Hungary in the case of a future war, to which the French responded that it would not take part in a potential war against Austria-Hungary.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work