POLITICS IN EUROPE BEFORE I WORLD WAR
Berlin Congress, 1878: after Russian-Turkish war in 1878, european powers met to
reorganize the countries of the Balkans. Serbia, Montenegro and Greece expanded its
borders. Romania and Bulgaria gained its independence from the Ottomans. Bosnia and
Herzegovina was part of Austria sphere of influence. Ottomans ceded Cyprus to British.
By the end of the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire
had become the controlling force in the region. Most
of the Balkan nation-states emerged during the 19th
and early 20th centuries as they gained independence
from the Ottoman Empire.
1.Nationalism caused a intense competition betweem nations.
Fierce rivalries had developed among Europe's powers.
2. Competition for raw materials and markets. Great Britain
leadership was challenged by Germany. Germany economy
was the fastest growing in the continent.
3. Territorial disputes: France had lost Alsace and Lorraine as
a result of the Franco-Prussian War (1870). Austria-Hungria
and Russia both tried to dominate the Balkans.
4. Imperialism: in 1905 and 1911 Germany and France nearly
fought over who would control Morocco.
5. Militarism: increasing nationalism led to an arms race.
Nations believed that to be a great country they needed a
powerful army. Generals in each country developed plans to
mobilize, organize and move troops in case of war.
Bismarck thought France
was the greatest threat. He
believed France wanted
revenge for its defeat in the
(1870). Bismarck first goal
was to isolate France. In
1879 formed the Dual
Alliance between Germany
and Austria-Hungary. In
1882, Italy joined the two
countries, forming the
two rivals in the
1890: William II (Germany).
Germany's foreign policy
changed. Kaiser William II
forced Bismarck to resign
and took himself the power.
He didn't renew the treaty
with Russia. So Russia left
the Triple Alliance and
signed a military alliance
with France. France was no
longer isolated. In case of
war Germany would be
forced to fight on a twofront war (eastern and
During the 1890's
Germany built its own
small empire in Africa.
William II started a
shipbuilding program in
an effort to make the
German navy equal to
Great Britain. In
response, UK formed an
alliance with France
(1904): the Entente. In
1907 they included
Russia as a member of
By 1907, two rival alliances
existed in Europe:
Triple Alliance: Germany, AustriaHungary and Italy.
Triple Entente: France, Great Britain
A dispute between two
rival alliances could
the continent into a war
By the beginning of the 20th Century, the Ottoman
empire was declining. Bulgaria, Greece,
Montenegro, Romania and Serbia had formed
nations. Each country was willing to extend its
Serbia hoped to absorb
all the Slavs on the
Russia, a slavic
nation, supported Serbia
Austria, which feared
rebellion among the
slavic population, felt
threatened by Serbia's
And Russia and AustriaHungary wanted the
Balkans as their sphere
In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Russia was unprepared for war and
Germany supported Austria.
On June 28, the heir to
throne, Archduke Franz
Ferdinand and his wife
visited Sarajevo, the
capital city of Bosnia.
There, they were shot.
The killer was Gavrilo
Princip, a 19 years old
Germany offered Austria-Hungary an
unconditional support. On July 23rd Austria
presented an ultimatum to Serbia:
1. End to all anti-austrian activity.
2. Allow Austrian officials into Serbia to conduct
Serbian leaders agreed most of Austrian
demands. But on July 28th Austria-Hungary
rejected Serbia's offer and declared war.
Inmediately, Russian Emperor ordered the
mobilization of the troops toward the Austrian