Causes of World War I

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Thesis: In 1914, The Great War, later known as World War I, emerged in Europe due to tensions brought about by nationalism, especially in the Balkan region; militarism, including rapid armament by Germany; and new alliances, such as the Central powers, which disturbed the balance of power in Europe.

Background: After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, the Congress of Vienna attempted to restore the European balance of power. The Congress of Vienna exposed Europe to influential ideologies such as nationalism and conservatism; which at the time were two conflicting ideologies. The forces of nationalism and conservatism played the role in reforming the face of European politics until the outbreak of World War I. One instance can be seen with the unification of Germany in 1871; and it’s role after the Franco-Prussian War. Perhaps the most revolutionizing diplomatic event in the 19th century, Germany was now a major player in European politics. This unification as well as Italy’s produced alliances such as the Triple Entente and Three Emperor’s League to maintain the European balance of power. This convoluted system of checks and balances with alliances was bound to fail; this is evident by the events that led up to World War I.

Causes:

Nationalism
Nationalism often lead countries to do things they otherwise would not have done, all for the sake of national pride. Pan Slavism created tensions between Russia and the Ottoman Empire over the Balkans (solved by the Congress of Berlin and the Treaty of San-Stefano), eventually leading Russia to declare war. First and Second Balkan Wars threatened Austria-Hungary’s dual monarchy and led to the Third Balkan War, known as “The Great War.” A Serbian nationalist, assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand (who was next inline to inherit the Hapsburg throne). Germany and Italian unification, produced diplomatic revolution with a series of alliances.

Militarism
Recently unified Germany was fearful of British...
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