Pre World War I Europe was known as a "Proud Tower". However due to Nationalism, Militarism, Imperialism, and alliances it would soon fall. It goes back as far back as 1870. The Franco-Prussian War was one of these cases. There were several Franco-Prussian Wars.
The last Franco-Prussian War started in 1870. Prussia was in a confederation. A confederation is a group of states that are loosely joined together and have more power than the government of the whole country. Prussia was the biggest state.
France and Prussia always fought over Alsace - Lorraine. It was land with very rich soil. It was on the border between France and Prussia. The last war, which started in 1870, Germany won Alsace-Lorraine.
They signed a treaty in Versailles, France. The Franco-Prussian War ended in 1871. After the Franco-Prussian War, Bismarck, who was Prussian leader made the unification of Germany. That meant that all the separate states joined together to be one country.
After this, Bismarck became the leader of Germany. Nationalism in the Balkans helped contribute to the fall of the "Proud Tower". Beginning in the late 19th century, the social unrest in the Balkan States became the focal point of many European powers. The Balkan peninsula was that of great importance due to its territorial and economic significance; however, the Balkan States consisted of many proud ethnic cultures who did not wish to be ruled by any authority other than themselves. The unification of other countries and strong patriotism fueled the desires of the Slavs, Greeks, Montenegrin's, Rumanians, and Bulgarians to gain independence and revenge for the occupation of their lands by the Turks. This revolution sparked by strong nationalistic views led to the second largest war in human existence.
Up until the early 20th century, the Balkan States were controlled by the Ottoman Empire; however, due to the decline of their power and prestige the Balkan States found an opportunity to gain independence. The unification and formation of Italy and Germany as countries encouraged the Balkan revolt of 1875-8. The revolt spread like wild fire through the Balkan peninsula and with the aid of Russia, Turkey was defeated. Through this, the Balkan States: Serbia, Montenegro, and Rumania, gained increases in their land; thus, resulting in a stronger patriotic pride.
Turkey, however, still controlled parts of the Balkans and this angered Balkan nationalism because they now felt capable of governing themselves. Another cause of the fall of Europe is alliances. An Alliance is and agreement of friendship with two or more countries. The countries all started to make alliances because they needed help in case of a war. So if country A got into a war with country B, and country A had an alliance with country C, country C would help country A fight against country B. Then maybe country B would have an alliance with country D, and country D would have an alliance with country E. So countries B, D and E could fight against countries A and C. So what would be a little war between countries A and B would turn into a very big war.
In 1872, Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary made the first Triple Alliance. Russia left after the Franco-Prussian War. Instead of Russia, Italy came, and in 1882, it became known as the Second Triple Alliance. After Russia backed out of the first alliance, Russia formed an Alliance with France. In 1891, France and Russia made the Dual Alliance.
In 1904 England joined the Dual Alliance, and then it became the Triple Extant. If a big country makes and alliance with a small country, its because they want something. All the big countries in Europe wanted something in the Balkans. Russia wanted land for sea ports. They couldnt use thiers by the Black Sea because they had to pass through Turkey and they were enemies with Turkey. They also couldnt use the one by the Pacific Ocean because it always froze.
Germany wanted a railroad that went from Berlin to Baghdad. The railroad would go threw Austria-Hungary. Thats why Germany made an alliance with Austria-Hungary. It also had to go through Turkey so Germany made an alliance with them in 1914. Austria-Hungary wanted sea ports as well. Italy wanted natural resources.
The people in the Balkans though, wanted all the big countries out and they wanted to become part of Serbia. All of this was somewhat and example of Imperialism. Imperialism is a foreign policy where a country tries to benefit its self at the expense of other countries. In order to have Imperialism you need to have a strong army and navy. England had the strongest navy so they had the biggest empire. Austria-Hungary and Turkey also had big empires.
Germany and France were just starting. The only place left to get colonies was Africa, but it wasnt big enough. All the countries competed for colonies. This built bad relationships between some countries because they were all competing and not all the countries actually got colonies. The spark of the Great War was the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife by a Serbian nationalist on the morning of June 28, 1914, while traveling in a motorcade through Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Archduke was chosen as a target because Serbians feared that after his ascension to the throne, he would continue the persecution of Serbs living within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The Serbia terrorist organization, the Black Hand, had trained a small group of teenage operatives to infiltrate Bosnia and carry out the assassination of the Archduke.