Name _________________________
Day 64
MANIA: The Causes of World War I
Setting the Stage At the turn of the 20th century (which means the ________ ), the
nations of Europe had been mostly at peace with one another for nearly 85 years. This
was due largely to the success of the Congress of _______________ (1814 – 1815),
which convened the major European powers after the downfall of
_______________. This meeting, which was led by Klemens von Metternich of
Austria, restored a balance of power in Europe and put many European monarchs back
on their thrones, thus returning Europe back to the way things were before the French
Revolution and Napoleon’s rule. The success of the Congress of Vienna led to relative
peace in Europe until the turn of the 20th century.
Causes of World War I
The nations of Europe believed that to be truly great, they needed to have powerful
militaries. The policy of glorifying military power and keeping an army prepared for
war was known as militarism. Having a large and strong standing army that was
ready to mobilize at a moment’s notice made citizens feel patriotic.
Growing rivalries and mutual mistrust had led to the creation of several military
alliances among the major nations of Europe as early as the 1870s. Between 1864 1871, Prussia's blood-and-iron chancellor, ___________________, freely used war
to unify Germany. After the Franco-Prussian War, he believed that France was his
greatest threat to maintaining peace. In 1879, he formed the Dual Alliance between
Germany and Austria-Hungary. Three years later, Italy joined them, thus forming the
Triple Alliance, or the Central Powers.
When Kaiser Wilhelm
II became leader of
Germany in 1888, he
was eager to show the
world just how
mighty Germany had
become. The army
was his greatest
pride. "I and the army
were born for one
another," Wilhelm
declared shortly after
taking power.
Wilhelm let
Germany's treaty
with Russia lapse
(end) in 1890. Russia
responded by forming
a defensive military
alliance with France.
Next, Wilhelm began
a tremendous
shipbuilding program in an effort to make the German navy equal to that of the mighty
British fleet. Alarmed, Great Britain formed an entente, or alliance, with France, and
then another entente with both France and Russia, thus forming the Triple Entente,
or the Allied Powers.
By 1907, two rival camps existed in Europe. On one side was the Triple Alliance-Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. On the other side was the Triple Entente--Great
Britain, France, and Russia.
Nationalism, or a deep devotion to one's nation, can serve as a unifying force within a
country. However, it can also cause intense competition among nations, with each
nation thinking it is better than the other and each one seeking to overpower the other.
By the turn of the 20th century, a fierce rivalry had developed among the Great Powers
of Europe: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, Russia, Italy & France. This
increasing rivalry stemmed from a few different sources: competition for raw materials
and markets (see Imperialism below), and territorial disputes.
Throughout the 1800s, the nations of Europe competed fiercely
for colonies in Africa & Asia. This quest for colonies, raw
materials, and new markets to sell their products to sometimes
pushed European nations to the brink of war. As European
countries continued to compete for overseas empires, their
sense of rivalry and mistrust of one another deepened.
In August 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz
Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, were shot point blank while visiting Bosnia, a
country in the Balkan territories in Europe. This was the shot that rang throughout
Europe. It triggered the delicate system of alliances to go into action and mark the
beginning of World War I in Europe.
1. What were the major causes of WWI? (Think: MANIA!)
2. Which countries made up the Central Powers (Triple Alliance)?
3. Which countries made up the Allied Powers (Triple Entente)?
4. Look back at the map of Europe in 1914. Why might the Central Powers be at an automatic
disadvantage in WWI?
5. How might these alliances lead to all-out war in Europe?
6. Why might nationalism and imperialism lead to war in Europe?
7. What was the spark that was the immediate cause of WWI in Europe?