• 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...


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.


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.


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

    Fischer asserts: 'The worsening economic situation triggered the slide towards some form or another of authoritarian government'.7 Unemployment soared: estimates suggest that during the winters of 1931-2 and 1932-3, half the economically active population were out of work8. Smaller farms and businesses went bankrupt, salaries were cut for those who

  2. 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.

  1. Account for the Causes of the First World War in 1914.

    It is also the enemy against which we most urgently require a certain measure of naval force as a political power factor'4. This triggered the beginning of the Naval Race, both powers raced to outdo each other with the amount of naval arms they had.

  2. How strong a leader was Kaiser Wilhelm II.

    The Triple Entente had placed what was known as "a ring of steel" around Germany so they would have stood no chance if the Triple Entente chose to attack it before 1906. However, in 1906 Germany's war Minister Count Alfred von Schlieffen became very worried about this, and so he

  1. Origins of the First World War

    as being the culmination of several deep-rooted historical components which made military conflict between the European powers predestined. The sense of inevitability of conflict between the European states is not limited to modern historians attempting to understand the origins of the war, by 1914 there was a growing feeling throughout

  2. European Diplomacy Leading to The Great War.

    of the same superior Teutonic race and as having a moral fiber stronger than that of the Slavic and Latin peoples of eastern and southern Europe. The royal families of Germany and Britain were linked. The German monarch, Wilhelm II, was the grandson of Queen Victoria, and he visited his grandmother and British family frequently.

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

    A deep attachment to one's native soil, to local traditions and to established territorial authority has existed in varying strength throughout history'.9 In a more political sense as depicted by Hans Kohn, it can be argued that, the existence of nation-states, well defined by territorial units or boundaries deepen the

  2. World War one was a war that was triggered by the assassination of Franz ...

    Both countries created "dreadnoughts" and began the naval race, thus creating debt and increasing the inevitability of World War One. Due to the fact that now the two countries were in an arms race to become the most powerful nation they were creating chaos among their people causing an outbreak

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