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

Why did Britain become involved in a European War in 1914?

Extracts from this document...


Why did Britain become involved in a European War in 1914? The outbreak of a general European war in 1914 can be attributed to a long standing back catalogue of antagonistic events between the major powers on the continent. It can be argued that the unification of Germany in 1871 commenced the extensive problems that would eventually prove to be too much of a strain to maintain peace. When Salisbury came to office in 1885 he had poor regard for British foreign policy, commenting that his predecessors 'have at least achieved their long desired "Concert of Europe". They had succeeded in uniting the continent of Europe-against Britain.'1 This was certainly true in respect of the German Empire and 'By 1914 Germany was sufficiently strong enough both economically and militarily to threaten Europe.'2 'The newly united German Empire, boosted by an amazingly swift industrial growth, was steadily changing the old balance of power in Europe.'3 The inevitability of war against Germany was profound; the many significant factors culminating in the tangled web of European power politics and alliance systems severed all respected relations and heightened the intensification to strive for a balance of power in Europe. Throughout over thirty years of hostility events had dictated that Germany would become the eventual obvious enemy, yet in the build up to the war, during the 'July Crisis' it was still very unclear as to whether Britain would become involved. It was not until 27 July that the possibility of Britain joining the war if Germany invaded France was discussed. The fundamental issue of the Treaty of London 1839 was raised by the British Foreign Secretary, Edward Grey, and despite having difficulties within his Liberal Cabinet, he was determined to adhere to its terms. ...read more.


It can therefore be seen that the Entente Cordiale was not a deliberate direct attack against Germany, although, despite these ulterior motives, Germany still opposed the Entente and in protest, initiated the first Moroccan Crisis in 1905 which further worsened Anglo-German relations whiles strengthening the Anglo-French Entente. In protest to the agreement of French predominance in Morocco, the Kaiser went to Tangier and publicly advocated the importance of the independence of the Sultan and how Germany was prepared to defend both her own interests and Moroccan interests in the event of a French take over or assault. The Kaiser also demanded a conference be held to finally sort out the status of Morocco, thus completely undermining the status of the Entente Cordiale. This took place the following year in Algeciras in Spain. The conference was significant because it exposed Germany's isolation in Europe. All countries, with the exception of Austria-Hungary, supported France, and even the U.S.A and Italy who were supposed to be a member of the Triple Alliance, had supported French claims in Morocco. For Germany the conference had had an adverse effect, instead of testing a weak, non-military Entente, with the intensions of splitting it up, it had encouraged military conversations to take place between Britain and France. Although still, no military plans were cemented, the ideas were in the background, and this together with heightened isolation provoked Germany to make a distinct change in her foreign policy. Without the support of Austria-Hungary, as the Algeciras Conference had confirmed, Germany would be completely isolated. She therefore turned her foreign policy to concentrate on the maintenance of Austria as a significant power. She aimed to prevent the Austro-Hungarian Empire from crumbling and to strengthen the bond between the two countries, for she could not afford to lose Austria-Hungary as an ally as she had done with Italy. ...read more.


the Government need a distraction from this and other domestic problems such as industrial strife and the militant campaign being pursued by the Suffragettes, but they were also concerned that a war in which they were not involved would result in a massive growth in either German or Russian power, both of which would lead to the erosion of Britain's position of pre-eminence in the world. Previously European rivalries in both India and china had occurred because of the collapse of existing power. Britain viewed the collapse of Ottoman rule in the Balkans and the related threat of Slavic nationalism as direct competition to the balance of power. To say that Britain's involvement in a general European war was inevitable would be unjust. As we have seen, despite the strains caused from the collection of previous events, there were efforts and signs of improved Anglo-German relations in the final period leading up to the war. The build up of events commencing with the refusal by Britain of Germany's Continental League in 1898 would have certainly carved a well established rift between the two states, however, in retrospect, it is clear that it was not only a combination of the long standing poor relations with Germany that attracted Britain to war, but the final decision to enter was also highly dependent on domestic factors. It can therefore be said that both long term international relations and short term domestic issues contributed significantly to Britain's entrance into the First World War; if domestic circumstances had have been different then perhaps this would have had some bearing on the eventuality of war for Britain. As it stood, the anti-German feeling that had been smouldering for years were finally surfaced and the war was to be fought and over by Christmas. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 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 AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. To What extent was German Foreign Policy responsible for the outbreak of general European ...

    They were an influential group who had the ear of the Tsar. Russia has also been regularly attacked for being the first of the Great Powers to order General mobilisation. The historian A.J.P Taylor argues that this then made war unavoidable, as it could not be stopped in time due to train timetables and logistics.

  2. Why did tension increase in Europe between 1900 and 1914?

    By 1914 the ships carried fifteen-inch guns and their oil-fired turbine engines could reach a top speed of twenty-five knots. * The British public became very much involved in the race. In 1909 the popular cry was, 'We want eight, we won't wait', and a Navy League was formed to campaign for more and more ships.

  1. Why And How Did Britain Survive The War From 1940-1943

    U-boats were in the Atlantic and so more attacks could be mounted against them. As a further defence anti-aircraft guns were put on merchant ships to defend themselves against long range German bombers. The first eighteen months of the war were called the happy time for the U-boats but by mid 1943, 109 of them had been sunk.

  2. Describe the historical claims of Britain and Argentina to the Falkland Islands

    I agree with that statement and although there were many other factors I believe one of the key reasons for the British victory was the fact that they were so well prepared. One of Britain's best trained and most powerful task force of 25,000 men sailed from Portsmouth on the 5th April 1982.

  1. Many peoples have contributed to the development of the United States of America, a ...

    The aristocracy aped London fashions, and colonials participated in British cultural movements. The Church of England, the established church in the southern colonies and in the four counties in and around New York City, grew in status and influence. At the same time, in both Britain and America, an increasingly

  2. From rebellion through rivalries to reformation

    The resulting victory was not only a resounding "wake-up" call for Skinheads. Skinhead recruiting promptly catapulted to France, cris-crossed Scandinavia, fanned out to Germany, Hungary and the Baltics and leaped the Atlantic, reverberating to Australia and Canada. 1988 marked the next gigantic leap-forward as Michael Palasch convened Skinheads in the

  1. History of the United States

    Responding enthusiastically, Congress poured out billions of dollars to finance the project. (After the APOLLO PROGRAM succeeded, on July 20, 1969, in landing astronauts on the moon, the space effort remained in motion, if at a reduced pace.)

  2. 'No power wanted war, but all were willing to risk one.' Discuss this ...

    ordered near to the Russian border so to deny Russia any pretext for intervention. However, by the end of July there were many indications that Russia would intervene. On 16th July Vienna received an unmistakeable warning from the Russian Foreign Ministry that with 'unquestionable resolve' Russia would stand by Serbia in the face of Austro-Hungarian aggression.

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