Examine the factors that caused the First World War

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The famous perennial question that is revolving around many historians is what had caused the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. While many historians are still till this day debating around this concept there is no doubt that many have come to the conclusion that it was a joint effort from all countries in which had caused the outbreak of the war. This essay will assess the contributory factors towards the outbreak from the alliance systems, imperialism and militarism relating to the July crisis.

Imperialism was one of the major long-term causes of the outbreak as the imperial rivalry between nation was intense had had produced notable political tensions. Imperialism is the term applied to the process of obtaining as many colonies by taking over nations thus creating an imperialist empire. Imperialism had existed throughout history however during this time period most of the globe was under European influence. But the world’s most dominant power was Britain by the 19th century. Historian McMillan stated ‘That the sun never set in Britain’, this showed how much Britain had dominated over the globe with Walker supporting this by stating ‘The empire was famously spread out across one quarter of the globe thus holding the most power and dominance.’ By the late 19th century, new nations such as Germany and Italy were rising but were not as big as the French. Stewart explains ‘One of the issue that was much discussed was the various conflicts over colonial and imperial possession in the decade” This was proven as by the late 19th century a new imperial wave had been shown through mainly Africa (Source 3) as it showed the European colonisation from different nations in Africa. Koch stats ‘it was a scramble to gain more colonies and to protect existing colonies’, it was this imperialistic actions, which had caused the outbreak of the war, but the alliance system had a key role to play as well.  

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The international tensions among the Great European powers, which had led to the outbreak of WW1, can be expressed in the formations of the political alliances. With Germany having a natural ally with Austria-Hungary they had expanded this towards Italy by 1882 thus creating ‘The Triple Alliance’. This alliance had the intent of purely being a defensive one as they didn’t want to cause war rather prevents it. But the Fisher Thesis states that Germany was the one in which had provoked war with their intentions of political influence on Europe and their allies. This is best shown during ...

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