The Main Causes Of World War I

The Begin of the Great War, World War I

The Great War had quite a bit of reasons for its begin, including some background causes, and the big push to the immediate cause. Reasons such as Imperialism, Militarism, Nationalism and Mutual Defense Alliances were the background causes of the war.

The Background causes of the War

The Alliance System

- The alliances in World War I were made secretly, and in doing so it created suspicion and trust issues between the European countries.

-Since the European powers had made alliances with each other if you started a dispute with one country it could result into a war having all power houses in Europe.

-The alliances turned into aggression alliances after the Bosnian crisis in 1909, in which Germany promised to give military aid to Austria-Hungary if they invaded Serbia

- Russia came in between and would fight with Serbia.

- The alliance system created a threat for the security of Germany.

-Germany talked about “encirclement”, because they were surrounded by enemy countries.

Before the war started this is how the alliances looked like; The triple alliance was Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy and the triple entente was France, Russia and Great Britain.


-Militarism was one of the biggest reasons that World War I

-The European and Russian powers desired to have stronger military and naval forces, therefore the battle of the arms started.

-The German parliament and politicians had no say in the army’s design and had to follow the admirals and generals of the army.

-The secret alliances that created suspicion was the cause of the arms race.

-All European powers had a significant rise in the military and naval forces.

The defense expenditure of the powers ( in millions euros)

(Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Britain, France and Russia)

1870 l 1880 l 1890 l 1900 l 1910 l 1914

94 130 l 154 l 268 l 289 l 398

All European powers had been using conscription for more than 30 years before the war had started but Great Britain did not use conscription. The naval race between Britain and Germany was the most intense since Great Britain introduced dreadnoughts( the word means fear nothing, in the span of two years Germany built 9 dreadnoughts and Great Britain built 18. This led to the belief that the war was coming and that everyone is prepared for it.


-Imperialism was a huge factor of the cause of World War I.

-A lot of European countries had empires all over the world, especially Great Britain, Russia and France.

-Great Britain was the world’s most dominant, richest imperial power in the world.

-The British empire once controlled one-fourth of the globe, so Germany and other countries wanted to have more colonies spread out the world as well.

- Countries used imperialism for reasons such as creating a larger empire, money and natural resources.

-They had benefits such as cheap labor, agriculture and for economic build up.

There were economic rivalries between Germany and France, since Germany took to coal producing provinces from France, but the economic rivalries was a minor reason of the cause of World War I.


-The murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the result nationalism gave.

-Countries like Serbia were seeking independence and wanted to form one large nation with Bosnia, but Austria-Hungary went against these efforts of Serbia extending their borders and stopped it.

-Once Austria-Hungary took over Bosnia, Serbia hated them which resulted in the murder of Archduke and that was the push to start World War I.

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Photograph of the Archduke, Franz Ferdinand

Although there were the some background reasons of the cause of the war, there was one cause that caused the war to immediately start. The assassination of the Archduke, as mentioned in the Nationalism paragraph. The photo above is a picture of the Archduke. When he was assassinated, Austria Hungary blamed the Serbian government of this incident and declared war. There was delay as Russia, Belgium, France and Great Britain supported Serbia, and The Germans supported Austria Hungary. But then after the forces joined each other, war had been declared and had evoked.