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

Why did Europe go to War in 1914?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Why did Europe go to War in 1914? The first world war had many causes with a number of them having had the potential to plunge Europe into war. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic era had spread throughout most of Europe the idea of political democracy, with the resulting idea that people of the same ethnic origin, language, and political ideals had the right to independent states. This idea was manifested in the unification of Germany in 1848 and Italian Unification. By the end of the 19th Century though the problem of nationalism was still unresolved in may areas of Europe; one particularly prominent nationalistic movement, Pan Slavism could perhaps be described as the spark that started the war; the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 at the hands of the Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist secret society, set in motion a series of events leading to war. Come 1914 the Austro-Hungarian empire under the ageing Emperor Franz Josef, was patently struggling to maintain coherence of the various diametrically opposed ethnic groups which fell under the Austro-Hungarian umbrella (taken from www.firstworldwar.com). Austria-Hungary argued that the Serbian government was responsible for the actions of the Black Hand and that the assassins must be brought to justice, to the tune of which an ultimatum was sent thus effectively demanding sovereignty over Serbian domestic affairs. ...read more.

Middle

Austria-Hungary, unsatisfied with Serbia's response to her ultimatum declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914. Russia, bound by treaty to Serbia, announced mobilisation of its vast army in her defence Germany, allied to Austria-Hungary viewed the Russian mobilisation as an act of war against Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia on 1 August. France, bound by treaty to Russia, responded by announcing war against Germany and, by extension, on Austria-Hungary on 3 August. Germany promptly responded by invading neutral Belgium (under the Schiefflen plan) so as to reach Paris by the shortest possible route, thus taking out France before full Russian mobilisation preventing a war on two fronts. With Germany's invasion of Belgium on 4 August Britain; obligated to defend neutral Belgium by the terms of a 1839 Treaty of London declared war on Germany Japan, honouring a military agreement with Britain, declared war on Germany on 23 August 1914. Two days later Austria-Hungary responded by declaring war on Japan. Britain; in a state of "splendid isolation" until the 1904 treaty with Japan began to take increased notice of European affairs by her realisation of the emergence of Germany as a great European power - and a colonial power at that. ...read more.

Conclusion

The French Military Chief of Staff; Marshall Joseph Joffre said "we shall have a war, I will make it, and I will win it" (taken from (taken from Merriman, 1996, p1025). British politicians probably saw the war as an opportunity to distract people from domestic events; "Not for almost a hundred years had England been closer to civil war then she came between March and July 1914" (Terraine, 1967, p13); just prior to the war in Britain there were influential movements for Women's suffrage; Irish home rule as well as a constitutional crisis brought on by the refusal of the Conservative dominated house of Lords to pass the budget in 1909. Germany probably miscalculated Britain, an essential part of German war strategy was the invasion of France via neutral Belgium. Germany didn't expect Britain to intervene due to internal troubles. "In England however the first sign of trouble brought about an immediate and complete union of the nation" (Wilson and Hammerton, 1914, p4) In conclusion the start of the Great War can be attributed to the number of factors; if one had to be emphasised it would be nationalism; nationalism causing Bismarck to form the alliance system after the formation of a unified Germany in 1871, that led to war following the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne; Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo an assassination carried out by the Black Hand a Slav nationalist group. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1900-1919 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 University Degree 1900-1919 essays

  1. Why was Kaiser Wilhelm II overthrown in 1918?

    These generals were very ruthless and overconfident of a German victory and so they blocked any peace talks from the Allies and ignored the 'Peace Resolution passed by the Reichstag in 1917. One example of this ruthlessness was the mutiny in Kiel which many historians believed was the 'final nail in the closet' for the Kaiser and German war efforts.

  2. Book Review: The Origins of the First World War: Controversies and Consensus (Annika Mombauer, ...

    Balkans and desire to challenge the dying Austrian-Hungarian empire shows that they played a significant role in triggering the war. Nonetheless, it is concluded that as much as they were the trigger, they were merely offsetting a chain of events that Germany had anticipated and hoped for and so although

  1. Why was there a 'scramble for Africa' in the late 19th century?

    Boom and bust. It could provide cheap labour. Africa was thought possible to provide cheap raw materials. Businesses pushed for expansion in Africa to export their goods and get the raw materials, eg. German Colonial Association. Many of these however are actually made up of politicians and the aristocracy using the economic argument as a disguise for nationalist beliefs.

  2. Origins of the First World War

    29 How and why did this situation develop? Germany's emergence as a major power following its unification in 1871 can be viewed as being the most significant factor in making a continental war inevitable, Fischer stating that since "Germany had consciously striven to establish itself as a world power in

  1. What generates nationalism and how important a factor is it in modern history

    length address the issue of political ideas and relationship between rulers and the ruled.18Marvin Perry argues the link between Enlightenment philosophy and the 1789 French Revolution that resulted in the emergence of modern nationalism in Europe; 'During the High Enlightenment, reformers dwelled increasingly on the Old Regime's inequalities, which seemed

  2. What factors contributed to the rise of fascism in Europe?

    Another major contributing factor in the rise of fascism in Germany was the economic problems from which the Weimar Republic suffered, and in particular, the effects of the Great Depression. The economy had been left in tatters after the enormous expenditure, borrowing and exploitation of all available resources during the First World War.

  1. To what extent was Britain in splendid isolation under Lord Salisbury 1885-1902?

    needed one shows that Britain's outlook to the future was not one of total isolation. In March, 1898, Joseph Chamberlain remarked "Isolation or at least non entanglement in alliances"6 had been British policy for years. If isolation is defined as "Non entanglement in alliances", then it can be said Britain was indeed truly isolated.

  2. European Diplomacy Leading to The Great War.

    beginning of the 20th century that were different from what existed at the end of the 20th century. German Diplomacy Fails The twentieth century began while Great Britain was fighting a war to extend its rule into South Africa - a move that was unpopular across the world, including the United States and Germany.

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