Site Loader
Rock Street, San Francisco

The First World War was a
catastrophic and widespread event, ridden with the death of over nine million
combatants and 7 million civilians, paving the way for major political changes
in the years after. This war was denoted ‘the war to end all wars’ due to its
then un-paralleled scale and devastation, eventually becoming known as the
‘Great War’ as
Canada’s, Maclean’s magazine wrote in October 1914. Although
the direct catalyst to this war was the assassination of Archduke Franz
Ferdinand of Austria by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, and would lead to an improper judgement of the
war being mainly of a nationalist root, the cause of this war was far greater and
had been manifesting in the 100 years prior to the declaration of war on the 28th
July 1914, starting at the Holy Alliance of 1815 which derived from the
quintuple alliance in the congress of Vienna on the 26th September
1815. Alexander I of Russia, Francis I of Austria, and Frederick William
III of Prussia aligned, negotiating the Second Peace of Paris after the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. This
treaty reflected the return of Europe to conservatism which was endorsed by all
European monarchs with the exception of the King of England, George III who
refused to sign on constitutional grounds, Pope Pius VII who refused to
negotiate with protestant monarchs and the sultan of Turkey also on religious
groundings. Castlereagh of England and Metternich of
Austria who were the leading figures in post Napoleonic diplomacy dismissed the
alliance, deeming it an insignificant and evanescent alliance. This alliance
however was very significant as it unified religion and politics in one treaty,
preventing any further revolutions throughout Europe.  Along with nationalism, the Great War was
caused by a combination of alliances, militarism and imperialism. Therefore to
say that nationalism was the main cause of the First World War would be largely
inaccurate as these causes interlinked and often enough worked agonistically. For
example, Nationalism was strongly influenced by militarism; something
particularly evident during and in the 100 years prior to the war by Britons
who strongly believed that they were invincible in any war as a result of their
naval power and the great economic might of their empire.

Nationalism can be
argued to have been the main cause to the Great War due to how deeply rooted it
was throughout Europe, stemming from economic, military and cultural supremacy.
Pre-war nationalism in Europe consisted of and was encouraged by wars, imperial
conquests, Propaganda in terms of Newspapers and popular culture written by
novelists such as the penny press, and political rhetoric. British nationalism
however was nurtured by a century of comparative peace and prosperity in terms
of her flourished and expansive strength across the world from the victory of
many colonial wars; something she had only ever known, and her vast naval
strength which dominated the majority who opposed her. This in particular led
to great tension throughout Europe due to the resentment many countries like
Germany felt towards her and her Navy. This is particularly evident in Germany
due to the reunification in 1871 which occurred in order for Germany to build her
own empire against the British with the aim of succeeding her. Therefore
nationalism became somewhat a front to the revenge many European leaders wished
to achieve against her and her empire, thus increasing tensions in Europe which
ultimately lead to the Great War. As well as the British Empire, Europe was
also tense due to the on-coming end to the Napoleonic wars of the past 25
years, therefore treaties were made with intention of not only restoring old
boundaries in terms of keeping Germany and Italy as separate states but to also
resize the main powers so as that an equilibrium of power could be met across
Europe. The Great Powers of Europe, also known as the sixth coalition, consequently
decided upon a set of common principles in the Treaty of Chaumont 1814 which were
ratified in the Congress of Vienna of 1814-1815 that ultimately led to the Holy
Alliance of 1815. The significance of this is the balance of power that
occurred in Europe for the decades after as well as the forming of the
framework for European international politics for the subsequent years until
the First World War. As 19th century historians have emphasised,
some criticism to the congress can be made due to the impeding and discouraging
nature it held with regards to the civil rights and liberties associated with
the American and French revolutions that occurred. As well as this, not all of
Europe signed the treaties within the congress such as Spain who refused to
sign the Final Act due to being forced to withdraw from the Portuguese town Olivença decreed by article 105 of the Final Act. Spain, however, later ratified it in 1817 due to realising it was better
to stand with Europe than against it. However, modern historians (such as Henry
Kissinger who wrote his doctoral dissertation on it in 1954), came to admire
the congress due to its ability to prevent war for 100 years. Mark Jarett
argues that the congress was ‘the first genuine attempt to create an
international order based on consensus rather than conflict’ (
This is reiterated by Paul Schroeder who also argues that the Congress of
Vienna was successful in avoiding the pitfalls of previous formulae in the
balance of power and instead created a stable Europe. Most significantly
however, the congress provided the groundwork for future world-wide
organisations such as the League of Nations 1919 and the United Nations of 1945
which is evidenced by the British Foreign Office commissioning a history of the Congress of Vienna prior to the opening of the Paris Peace
conference of 1918 in order to display to other leaders how to achieve
international peace. By being successful in bringing peace and resizing the
power of each European country, the congress succeeded in suppressing some
nationalistic tendencies for some time, until the reunification of Italy in

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Post Author: admin


I'm Glenda!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out