Q:

How did alliances contribute to the outbreak of World War I?

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Quick Answer

Alliances contributed to the outbreak of World War I by forcing the great powers of Europe to go to war when their allies did. The two great alliances prior to the outbreak of war were the Central Powers, which consisted of Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the Entente, or Allied Powers, which consisted of Great Britain, Russia and France.

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Full Answer

The spark that lit the fuse of war was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke of Austria, in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. The assassin was a Serbian nationalist who wanted Austria-Hungary out of the Balkans. Austria-Hungary sent the Serbian government an ultimatum that promised war if specific demands were not met. However, Russia had promised to protect the Serbs and threatened retaliation. Once Austria invaded Serbia on July 28, 1914, the German army began mobilizing for war, prompting the Russian army to do likewise. Assuming that the Austro-Hungarians would take care of the Russians, Germany declared war on France on August 3, launching an invasion through Belgium, which was a neutral country. Due to its alliance with Belgium, Great Britain joined the war against the Germans on August 7. Because of the complex alliances necessitated by the balance of power theory of European relations, the outbreak of war in a small corner of the continent flared up into a continent-wide conflagration.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Who were the Allies in WWI?

    A:

    The original Allies who opposed the Central Powers during World War I were the Triple Entente comprised of France, Great Britain and Russia. Other important members of the Allies were Japan and Italy, and the United States was a vital "associated power."

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  • Q:

    What were the effects of nationalism in World War I?

    A:

    Nationalism was one of the major factors in the outbreak of WWI, as nationalistic movements caused deeply rooted conflicts between countries. This lead to a number of alliances between countries designed to protect national interests. When Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, it caused a chain reaction between various alliances that led to the start of the war.

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  • Q:

    How did entangling alliances affect World War I?

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    The entangling alliances among the European powers affected World War I by causing a small regional conflict to explode into an international war. The first of the two major alliances in this war was the Central Powers dominated by Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. Their opponents were the Allies made up of France, Great Britain, Russia, Japan, Italy and eventually the United States.

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  • Q:

    Who was in World War I?

    A:

    The major combatants in World War I were the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire versus the Allied Forces of Great Britain, France, the United States, Russia, Italy and Japan. In addition, nearly 20 other countries and several colonies joined the conflict.

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