Outline the Role and Effects of Alliances in WW1

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Alliances between countries was one of the main reasons that so many countries were involved in World War One. The agreements made prior to the war were initially formed to repel countries from attacking each other. However, the alliances caused one the largest wars ever fought. These alliances created a chain that could be set into motion at any point with a single trigger.

Formation of Alliances and Build up to War

In 1873 Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary formed the League of the Three Emperors. This was the plan of Otto Von Bismarck, the German leader at the time, to separate France politically from the most powerful European forces. Unfortunately for the group, relations between Austria -Hungary and Russia became strained when Austria-Hungary grew worried that Russia’s support of Serbia would fuel a mutinous feeling within their Slavic population. As a result the league collapsed in 1878. In 1882 Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy formed the Triple Alliance. Germany promised to provide unconditional support in the case of a war. This gave Austria-Hungary confidence and led to their aggressive policies including rivaling the Balkans and Russia. As France bordered both Germany and Italy they feared that this alliance could be dangerous so they allied themselves to Russia in an effort to discourage Germany from attacking. This alliance was consolidated by the fact that they both relied heavily on each other financially. Britain soon joined them by making informal agreements with France and Russia to work together in 1904 and 1907 respectively. The alliance was named the Triple Entente.

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The Triple Entente frightened Germany and so they began building up their Navy to match Britain. Consequently Britain also began expanding and built the HMS Dreadnought, a revolutionary ship at the time. This competition for the finest weaponry was triggered by the Alliances. It was billed the Arms race and worsened tensions between Britain and Germany. Meanwhile disputes between Germany and France in the French controlled Morocco were ongoing. Germany had sided with the Sultan of Morocco in demanding the Independence of Morocco. This angered the French and would have caused war had the French leader, Maurice Rouvier, not ...

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