Armed Hostilities

Events and Causes of World War I

Table of Contents
  1. Militarism
  2. Alliances
  3. Imperialism
  4. Nationalism
  5. References


World War 1 took place between 1914 and 1918. A number of authors and scholars have come up with possible causes of the First World War. It took place between rich countries. Some countries came together and formed alliances and thereafter united to fight nations. Various events led to the outbreak of World War I.

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Militarism refers to the case whereby each country strives to have a better military and navy base than the others. Britain had a large army and navy. That did not please Germany. It made the latter feel inferior. Germany also desired to have larger armies than Britain. This caused competition between Germany and France since they wanted to be similar or better than Britain. Most of these nations introduced “universal conscription” even though it was a peaceful period. It caused tension and a rise in political temperatures. Each nation devised with more advanced, superior, and smarter weapons that would out-do their rivals.

For the sake of self-defense and prestige, the more a country strengthened its army, military, and navy bases, the more the other rival camps strategically positioned themselves in readiness for war. The stiff competition and arms race resulted in high taxation among the citizens. Between 1870 and 1914, all the nations that were in the “armed race” except Britain and the United States of America had doubled the sizes of their armies (Van Evera, 2013).


Nations that were friendly to each other joined hands and formed groups called alliances. Alliances were established by different countries with the main aim of restoring peace. They believed that in the event of war, those in the alliance would protect each other. However, the alliance triggered war against the opposing camps. It compelled the nations to wage war against each other. Arguments arose between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. This resulted in war. Other alliances that cropped up later led to more problems resulting in conflicts (Kesternich, Siflinger, Smith, & Winter, 2014).


Imperialism refers to a period when independent states scrambled to secure colonies. During this period, young and upcoming countries were under European nations while other states competed with European nations to own more colonies for themselves. These colonies were mostly in African and Asian countries. It was believed that the more colonies a nation had, the wealthier it was and hence more superior. This made each nation strive and have more colonies than their rivals so as to prove how strong they were. In the 1880s and 1890s, Germany and Italy decided that they too needed to have their own colonial empires. The latter led to global competition for land and other resources. Several nations strived to gain influence over others by establishing imperial states (Mombauer, 2013).


Nationalism is the spirit of statesmanship. It is closely related to patriotism and self-proclaimed superiority by citizens of a given nation. In fact, nationalism was the feeling possessed by most European nations. Massive army battalions were established during the rise of nationalism. For example, individual member countries in the UK felt that Europe was the best in terms of culture that superseded others. The spirit of nationalism also propelled the formation of alliances (Kavanagh, 2014).

As can be seen, the above were some of the events that led to World War I. It is vital to reiterate that each nation wanted to prove superiority and sophistication in regards to weapons and armies. Eventually, a major world war erupted that lasted from 1914 to 1918.

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Kavanagh, G. (2014). Museums and the First World War: A social history. London: Leicester University Press.

Kesternich, I., Siflinger, B., Smith, J. P., & Winter, J. K. (2014). The effects of World War II on economic and health outcomes across Europe. Review of Economics and Statistics, 96(1), 103-118.

Mombauer, A. (2013). The origins of the First World War: controversies and consensus. New York: Routledge.

Van Evera, S. (2013). Causes of war: Power and the roots of conflict. London: Cornell University Press.

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