WWI Causes
By: MacKenzie Savage, Lauren Lux, Angel Mikl, Nicole Prabhu

Francis Ferdinand

Nationalism Spurs Tension in Balkans

The mountainous peninsula of the Balkans in the southeastern corner of Europe was home to an assortment of ethnic groups. With a long history of nationalist uprisings an ethnic clashes, the Balkans was known as the "powder keg" of Europe. By the early 1900s, The Ottoman Empire which included the Balkan region, was in rapid decline. While some Balkan groups struggles to free themselves from the Ottoman Turks, other had already succeeded in freeing themselves from their Turkish leaders. These people formed new nations, including Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia. Nationalism was a strong, powerful source in these countries as each group longed to extend its borders. Serbia for example, had a large Slavic population and hoped to absorb all the Slavs on the Balkan Peninsula. Russia supported the slavic nationalism (russia was a Slavic nation). Austria-Hungary, opposed such an effort and feared that efforts to create a Slavic state would stir rebellion among its Slavic population. 1908, Austria annexed (took over) Bosnia and Herzegovina (two Balkan areas with large Slavic populations). Serbian leaders who sought to rule those provinces were outraged. In the years to follow, the tensions between Serbia and Austria arose and the Serbs continually vowed to take away Bosnia and Herzegovina away from Austria. In response, Austria-Hungary vowed to crush any Serbian effort to undermine its authority in the Balkans. Austro-Hungarian, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie ruled in Austria. When the couple paid a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia they were shot at a point-blank range as they rode through the streets of Sarajevo in an open car. Killer Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year-old Serbian and member of the Black Hand. The Black Hand was a secret society committed to ridding Bosnia of Austrian rule. Because the assassin was Serbian, Austria decided to use the murderers as an excuse to punish Serbia. On July 23, Austria presented Serbia with an ultimatum (a list of demands that if not met will lead to serious consequences) containing numerous demands. Serbia knew if they refused it would lead to war against the more powerful Austria. Therefore, Serbian leaders agreed to most of the demands and offered to have several others settled by an international conference. Austria was in no mood to negotiate and its nations leaders seemed to already be settled on war. July 28, Austria rejected Serbia’s offer and declared war. That same day, Russia, an ally of Serbia with its largely Slavic population took action.Russian leaders ordered the mobilization of troops toward the Austrian border.Leaders all over Europe took notice and the fragile European stability seemed ready to collapse into armed conflict. The British foreign minister. the Italian government, and even Kaiser Wilhelm himself urged Austria and Russia to negotiate. But it was too late and the machinery of war had already been set in motion.

The Last Straw! Archduke Franz Ferdinand Assassinated!

On June 28, 1914, the Archduke and heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo. The couple visited the capital of Bosnia where they were shot at point blank range by Gavrilo Princip. Princip was a Serbian and member of the Black Hand, which was a secret society committed to ridding Bosnia of Austrian rule. The assassination came from built up tension between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. As a form of punishment, Austria-Hungary presented Serbia with an ultimatum. Serbia greed to most of the demands because they knew that refusing would lead to war. Tensions started between Serbia and Austria-Hungary when a wave of nationalism flooded over each nation. Serbia had a large Slavic population, yet Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina to prevent uprising in those Slavic populations. Serbia vowed to take Bosnia and Herzegovina from Austria-Hungary. These countries were close to their boiling point, and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand pushed them to the brink of war.


Alliances during WWI lead to a lot of paranoia and suspicion during the war. Which was justified because many alliances were formed or negotiated in secret. The major alliances during WWI was the Triple Entente, this contained Britain, France and Russia. All these nations overcame their differences with each other to align together. The Central Powers were Germany and Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. These two nations said they would fight for each other if Russia attacked either one of them. Britain and Russia were aligned together by the Anglo-Russian entente. Finally the Triple Alliance was Germany and Austria-Hungary.


Germany became fully militarized. They were prepared for any type of war that could happen. Germany had so many weapons that it caused every other country to be on edge. This caused other countries to start to become militarized so that they would also be prepared if a war was to happen. Since militarism became so popular the government(that was now so focused on the military and war) was promoting war with propaganda. Due to the propaganda about their country being the best and saying they would win any war, nationalism started to spark.

Work Cited

"Alliances." World War I. N.p., 20 June 2012. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.

Modern World History Textbook

Picture of Francis Ferdinand- Wikipedia

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