In war there are no unwounded soilders

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Causes of world war one

The main causes of the war can explained by the following acronym - MAIN

  • M = Militarism
  • A = Alliances
  • I = Imperialism
  • N = Nationalism


The world was in an arms race, building armies, growing their empires and especially navies in an effort to protect the interests of the various empires that existed at the time. Although Britain had levelled the playing field with their huge naval forces that carried devastating firepower, Germany was catching up.


The war was divided into two camps, one being the triple entente and the other being the triple alliance. France was afraid of a German invasion so they formed an alliance with Britain, who was worried of Germany's growing empire and strength, and Russia, who had a rivalry with Austria-Hungary for land; and the three formed the triple entente. On the opposing side in the triple alliance there was Germany who was jealous of britain's empire and strength, Austria-Hungary who had a rivalry with Russia and lastly there was Italy who tried to remain neutral during the war.


Imperialism is a policy of extending a country's power and influence through diplomacy or military force.The biggest empires in the world were Britain, France, Holland, Austria-Hungary and Ottoman. All of them were competing for control of the valuable colonies. It was also a mindset that, we are right, we are the best and we deserve to be in charge.


Nationalism is deep and abiding pride and loyalty in your country or national origin. Proud to be canadian, french, american, etc. It also extended to groups, who were at the time, subjects of another power. For example serbian people were subjects to the Austro-Hungarian empire and were not happy about this. They showed this when Austria-Hungary sent their archduke.

Assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

This assassination was like a spark in a room filled with dynamites. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, occurred on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo when they were shot dead by Gavrilo Princip. Princip was a member of the Black Hand secret society. The assassination led directly to the first world war when Austria-Hungary subsequently issued an ultimatum to Serbia, which was partially rejected. Austria-Hungary then declared war.

Countries declare war

After Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, then Russia, allies to Serbia declared war on Austria-Hungary. This triggered the alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary. After Germany declared war, France soon followed and as Germany attacked France, Britain joined in the war declaring war on the opposition resulting in a chain of alliances entering the war on both sides. And Italy stood against its former alliance due to a secret alliance with France and they said that, the triple alliance was meant to be a defensive alliance, but Germany and Austria-Hungary went on the offence, and they used this as an excuse to switch sides.

A map of Europe in World War One

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HOW World War I Started: Crash Course World History 209
The 4 M-A-I-N Causes of World War One in 6 Minutes
By: Sukhpal Sidhu & Anmol