Events and Causes leading up to World War I.

Essay by coconut_bananaHigh School, 11th gradeA+, September 2005

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Causes of WW1.

The period of time between the late 1800s and the early 1900s was one of great political change and instability. It marked the lead up to one of the greatest wars in history and was filled with challenges based on nationalism, imperial rivalry, colonial rivalry, and international alliances.

Possibly the earliest significant event in the wind-up to WWI was in 1839 where, through the Treaty of London, Belgium's neutrality was ensured by Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia and the Netherlands. Before this, Belgium had been part of the Netherlands and after years of conflict had won its independence. The treaty recognised this, and under Article 7, Britain promised to act as a protector of Belgium if any country should threaten it. Over three decades later, in 1870/71 the Franco-Prussian war was fought and Germany came out victorious. It gained the areas of Alsace and Lorraine, both important sites for acquiring raw materials, and left France feeling the victim of the encounter and in a hopeless situation.

Furthermore France felt humiliated by the new conditions of the Peace of Frankfurt and a desire for revenge (la revanche) rose in France.

In 1879 the dual alliance was formed. This treaty was between Germany and Austria-Hungary and only 3 years later in 1882, turned into the triple alliance with Italy becoming the final player. These new alliances formed with Germany trying to ensure it had support from its closest geographical neighbours in case of conflict and also moved to ensure that in case of war France, now Germany's sworn enemy, would be isolated. This plan for the isolation of the French continued until 1889 with the appointment of Kaiser William as new leader of Germany. The new Kaiser was focused on proving Germany as a great military power and insisted...