WW1 Causes in extent
Was the assassination the only cause of the Great War?
There were alliances long before the war began in 1914. There was the Triple Alliance which was made up of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. The alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary was natural, both spoke the same language, had a similar culture and in previous centuries had both been part of the Holy Roman Empire. Italy had joined these two countries, as it feared their power on the northern border. Germany was mainland Europe's most powerful country - so for Italy it was an obvious move. Each member of the Triple Alliance promised to help the others if they were ever attacked by another country.
The Triple Entente was less structured and the members of the Entente were Britain, France and Russia. "Entente" means understanding. They did not have to promise to help each other if they got attacked by other countries, but the understanding was that they would support each others, but it was not fixed. France had a huge army, but a poor navy. Britain had the world's most powerful navy and a small army. France and Britain joining together in an understanding was natural. The inclusion of Russia seemed odd when Russia was so far from France and Britain. However, Russia's royal family, the Romanovs, were related to the British royal family. Russia also had a huge army and with France on the west of Europe and Russia on the East, the 'message' sent to Germany was that she was confronted by two huge armies on either side of her borders. Therefore, it was not a good move by Europe to provoke trouble in Europe - that was the hoped message sent out by the Triple entente.
Between 1870 and 1914, the great powers increased their military spending by 300% and all the continental European powers adopted conscription. Conscription was the compulsory enlistment for the military. Imperialism and nationalism had caused international tensions and conflicts long before 1914. Fear and suspicion of their rivals drove nations to seek security through alliances with others. Leaders came to believe that their countries would be safer if they could rely on others to come to their aid if they were ever threatened. But such alliances could also drag countries into conflict.
Conflicting French and German interests in North Africa and conflicting Russian and Austrian interests in the Balkans led to increased tensions. However, it was in the Balkans that these nations would erupt into war.