WW1 Revision notes


       From the spec

·       The alliance system; Franco- Russian alliance: relations between’ Entente powers; the crises in Morocco (1905-1011) and the Balkans (1908-1909), and their effects on international relations.

·        Anglo- German rivalry: Britain and challenges to splendid isolation; Kaiser Wilhelm’s aims and policy, including Weltpolitik; colonial tensions; European rearmament, including the Anglo- German navel race. 

·       outbreak of war: Slav nationalism and relations between Serbia and Austria- Hungry; the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo and its consequences; the July crisis

Conflict and tension: the first world war, 1894-1918 (HT1- The causes of the first world war)


Four main causes of the first world war:

·       Militarism- the attempt to build up a strong army and navy to prepare for war.

·       Alliances- creating agreements with other countries to promise to defend each other and go to one another.

·       Imperialism- taking (colonising) land to increase power and influence across the globe.

·       Nationalism- the belief that your country and its ideas are better than others.


Kaiser Wilhelm saw himself as the heroic leader if Germany. He wanted to make Germany the greatest nation the world. In the early 1900s Britain had a much larger empire than Germany. Germany was jealous of this and felt it needed a bigger empire to become a much more powerful nation. Kaiser created a foreign policy to that set out to give Germany ‘a place in the sun.’ 

Three main aims of Weltpolitik (German Foreign policy)

1)      strong navy 2)     large empire 3)    Strong European power to influence European politics

Splendid isolation:

Britain did not get involved in what happened in Europe. It thought this was the best option to protect its empire. It depended on the strength of the navy to protect itself.



Arms race:

-        Germany felt threatened by the entente cordial powers as they thought they were trying to surround


-        The fears and crises that these alliances caused also led to counties building up their armies. They all believed that they needed to be prepared for a war.


-        The Kaiser announced his intention to build a powerful navy for Germany.

-        Britain felt threatened by this because its superiority at sea.

-        In 1906, Britain raised the stakes and launched HMS Dreadnought, a new type of warship.

-        Germany responded by building its own ‘Dreadnought’ 

By 1914, Britain had 29 Dreadnoughts and Germany had 17. However, the navel race became less intense by 1911 as Germany shifted its focus to expanding their army








Two main alliances existed in Europe by 1914:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

The Triple Alliance- Germany, Austria-Hungry and Italy

The Triple Entente – France, Britain and Russia


Formation of the Triple Alliance:

In 1879, Bismarck was afraid that Russia would attack Germany and wanted to isolate France so he signed an alliance with Austria- Hungry.

They agreed that they would help each other


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