Four underlying causes of war

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand signalled the rapid slide into world war, but this wasn't the only cause. In the 1930s, historians argued that there were four underlying long-term causes of the World War One:

  • Nationalism - the belief that your country is better than others. This made nations assertive and aggressive.
  • Imperialism - the desire to conquer colonies, especially in Africa. This brought the powers into conflict - Germany wanted an empire. France and Britain already had empires.
  • Militarism (Arms Race) - the attempt to build up a strong army and navy gave nations the means and will to make war.
  • Alliances - in 1882, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Triple Alliance. This alarmed, France, Britain and Russia. By 1907, they had all joined the Triple Entente. Europe was divided into two armed camps, to help each other if there was a war.