Causes of World War 1 In 1914, a conflict arose in Europe that started what is now called World War 1 (WW1). This war did not just spring up out of nowhere there many causes involved that started this vast conflict. The immediate cause of WW1 was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand who was killed in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo (Mulligan). The main cause of WW1 is M. A. I. N which represents militarism, alliance systems, imperialism, and nationalism (Danzer 579). And a contributing factor of WW1 is escalating tension in the Balkan region.
Because of the assassination, M. A. I. N, and tension in the Balkan Peninsula the conflict known as WW1 began. Often the immediate cause for some event is what happened right before that event occurred in this case the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the immediate cause. In June 1914 the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was visiting the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, when he was shot (Mulligan). The Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed by a Serbian named Gavrilo Princip who was associated with a group known as the Black Hand, which promoted Serbian nationalism.
Right after the assassination Austria-Hungary and Serbia were in a diplomatic crisis with each other. On July 28 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia thinking it would only be a short war (Danzer 580). But they had actually started what is now called the First World War. Although the assassination was the spark that started the war it was not the main reason for the war. The main cause for the start of WW1 was M. A. I. N which stands for militarism, alliance systems, imperialism, and nationalism (Danzer 579). All of these are long term causes eventually led to the start of the war.
Militarism played a very important part in starting WW1; almost every country was bulking up their armies. Even Germany found that they were competing with Britain for who had a better navy. Germany didn’t have much of a Navy until Wilhelm II, Germany’s Kaiser, decided to become a major sea power (Danzer 579). Because most powerful countries had their fair share of colonies around the world they felt the need to be able to protect these territories with their armies. Tension rose as nations assembled bigger and bigger armies. Prior to the war many countries had alliance systems with other ountries in case they ever went into a conflict with another nation. These alliances were simple if one country were to go to war their allies would come to reinforce them. So when the War did break out country after country got dragged into a battle they are forced to fight. For many centuries, European nations had been building empires, slowly expanding their political control across the globe. Colonies supply European nations with materials and provide markets for manufactured goods (Danzer 579). This is why Germany, France, and Britain compete for colonies creating tension between them even before the war.
Nationalism played an important role for the start of the war because the people of each country felt an intense loyalty to that country. It was because of nationalism that Princip assassinated the Austrian Archduke. These four causes are the main reason why the First World War started in the first place. The contributing factor for the start of WW1 was the rising tension in the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkan Peninsula at the time consisted of the countries Greece, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro and Turkey (Mulligan).
The Balkan Peninsula was also known as “the powder keg of Europe” because of the building tension which was ready to explode at any moment (Danzer 580). The reason for all the tension in this region is mostly because of the interest from major European powers. The Balkan Peninsula was of major significance to these European powers due to its territorial and economic advantages. Examples of these interests are Russia wanting access to the Mediterranean Sea. Another is that Germany wanted a rail link to the Ottoman Empire, Germany’s Ally, which cut right through the Balkan Peninsula (Danzer 580).
Naturally the Balkan people didn’t wish to be ruled by any authority besides themselves so they had dislike towards big European nations (Mulligan). Because of growing nationalism among the Balkan people many countries were striving to be independent. Austria-Hungary, who taken control of Bosnia in 1878, realized this when it seemed Serbia was subverting it’s rule over Bosnia (Danzer 580). With all this tension the “powder keg” was ready to ignite which is what happened in 1914. WW1 started for three reasons because of the assassination, M. A. I.
N, and tension in the Balkan Peninsula. Even if the assassination of the Austrian Archduke did not happen the war may have still began because of M. A. I. N. The tension caused by M. A. I. N would eventually lead to an event similar to the assassination and have an equal effect as well. To avoid repeating this terrible war it is important that WW1 is to be remembered as a valuable piece of history considering history was repeated already when World War 2 started. WW1 was the biggest war that anyone had ever witnessed in that time and it will always be remembered.