Examine the Main Causes of the First World War

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Causes of the First World War

The First World War was a global armed conflict that occurred in 1914, triggered by a series of long term and short term events it became known as one of the most important wars in history as empires were broken, new countries arose victories and the first attempts were made to establish world peace. Unfortunately, whilst the affects of the First World War are rarely debated, its causes range in number and importance. This essay will illustrate some of the main causes for the outbreak of what became known as ‘The Great War’ by using the acronym MANIAC (Militarism, Alliances, Nationalism, Imperialism, Assassination, Crises).

Militarism is a belief that a country should upkeep its militant integrity and assert aggressive power if needed. This belief applied strongly to the new rising power in Europe in 1900s. With a few marginal changes, the ‘Great Powers’ of Europe were much the same as they had been for the previous two centuries, but the balance between them had changed radically. The most powerful of all was now the German Empire, created under the authoritarian structure of Bismarck who unified the German Empire under the Kingdom of Prussia as a result of its victorious wars of 1866 against the Austrian Empire and 1870 against France. France had been reduced by her defeat to second-rank status and resented it whilst Austria - Hungary on the other hand accepted subordinate status as an ally of Germany (Dual Alliances of 1879). Bismarck saw these wars as necessary in the progression of the empire, he was not a man of brutal force unlike Kaiser Wilhelm II, hence when he died in 1898 the Kaiser passed a Naval Law the same year. This triggered response from the British Empire as it had the dominant navy power as well as France as they were still recovering from the Franco - Prussian war of 1871 and were in proximity. This was further illustrated by the creation of the Schlieffen Plan in 1905 a military strategy against the feuding camp of the Triple Entente. Due to rising tension, the plan was brought to action and failed only making matters worse as British Empire declared war on Germany as part of the plan included going through Belgium whom the British have previously promised neutrality. Between 1870 and 1914, the military budget for Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Italy more than quadrupled as the alliances had called for the involvement of others.

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As mentioned before, the world at 1914 had been split in two, Germany, Austria - Hungary and Italy; The Triple Alliance on one side and Britain, France and Russia; The Triple Entente on the other. However, Italy itself also formed a secret alliance with France, that should an event occur where the Triple Alliance becomes void then France supports the allies of the Triple Entente.  Whilst originally Italy claimed neutrality, a year later Italy still entered the war honouring the Secret alliance. Russia itself had made a treaty with Germany, The Reinsurance Treaty as it was called that stood ...

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