Peoples, Nations, Events

Background to World War One

Background to World War One

The background to the long term causes of World War One can be traced back to the end of the C19th. Alliances, broken alliances and German naval expansion all caused much friction in Europe with two camps developing - both of which distrusted the other. The immediate spark of World War One may well have been the murder at Sarajevo but suspicion and mistrust had been growing since 1882.

1882Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy signed the Triple Alliance (May)
1883Rumania and Austria-Hungary signed a secret alliance, to which Germany adhered (October)
1890Germany allowed the Reinsurance Treaty signed with Russia to lapse (June)
1894France and Russia signed a defensive alliance (January)
1896William II of Germany sent a telegram to Kruger congratulating him on repulsing Jameson's raid on the Transvaal. This provoked public disapproval in Britain (January)
1898Germany introduced its first Naval Law (March)

Talks between Germany and Britain on how to best resist Russian expansion in the Far East broke down. (March-April)

1899First Hague Peace Conference failed to get agreement on disarmament. (May-June)
1900Germany introduced its second Naval Law. (June)
1901Failure of talks/negotiations between Germany and Britain over an alliance. (March-May)
1902Britain and Japan signed a defensive alliance. (January)
1904Britain and France signed the 'Entente Cordiale' after settling colonial differences. (April)
1905The Schlieffen Plan was drawn up for an attack on France via Belgium. (December)
1906The Algeciras Conference settled the first Morocco Crisis; during the crisis Britain and France held military talks and Britain considered sending an expeditionary force to the continent. (January-April)
1907At the second Hague Peace Conference, Germany rejected any scheme for disarmament. (June-October)

The Triple Alliance was renewed for a further six years. (July)

Russia and Britain signed a convention that, with France, led to the Triple Entente. (July)

1908Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina ended the gentleman's agreement between Austria-Hungary and Russia that both would maintain the status quo in the Balkans. The annexation greatly inflamed Serbian nationalism. (October)
1911The Agadir Crisis was peacefully resolved between France and Germany - though during it Britain made preparations for war. (June-November)
1912Haldane went to Berlin in an effort to get an end to the naval race between Britain and Germany - he failed. (February)

Germany introduced its third Naval Law. (March)

The first Balkan War led to Russia and Austria-Hungary mobilising but the crisis subsided when Russia withdrew its support for Serbian territorial claims. (October)

1913Germany introduced a special tax that would finance the doubling of its army's strength. (June)

Military service in France was increased from 2 to 3 years. (August)

The Second Balkan War was ended by the Treaty of Constantinople. (September)

1914Franz Ferdinand assassinated in Sarajevo. (June 28th)

Austria-Hungary sent Serbia an ultimatum. (July 23rd)

The Russians decided to defend Serbia against Austria-Hungary. (July 24th)

Austria-Hungary assured Russia that no Serbian land would be annexed; Austria-Hungary did not accept the Serbian reply to its ultimatum and ordered mobilisation against Serbia. (July 25th)

Germany and Austria-Hungary rejected Grey's suggestion for an international conference to settle the Austro-Serbian dispute. (July 26th)

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. (July 28th)

Russia began a general mobilisation. (July 30th)

Germany sent an ultimatum to Russia that Russia should stop movement of all military on the Russian-German border. (July 31st)

Germany declared war on Russia having received no reply from Russia regarding her ultimatum. (August 1st)

Germany declared war on France and initiating the Schlieffen Plan, invaded Belgium. Italy announced that she would remain neutral. (August 3rd)

Britain declared war on Germany. (August 4th)

Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia; Serbia declared war on Germany. (August 6th)

Montenegro declared war on Germany. (August 8th)