1. The MAIN reasons

International relations had been deteriorating for many years prior to 1914. The growth in tension between the 'Great Powers' was primarily caused by the influence of four long-term causes:

  • M´╗┐ilitarism
  • Alliances
  • Imperialism
  • Nationalism

2. Nationalism: How did the Great Powers see themselves?

Land of Hope and Glory (GB)
Rule Britannia (GB)

3. Imperialism: Who were Britain's colonial rivals?

The colonisation of Africa by 1914


4. Militarism: In what ways should a Great Power achieve its aims?


5. Alliances: Why did Europe divide itself into two armed camps?


6. How did each of these causes help make war more likely?

Match the explanations to the causes

...because it made small conflicts become major wars.

...because it made countries build-up their armed forces.

...because it made countries believe they should act in their own self-interest, including starting wars if necessary.

...because it made some countries envious of the economic benefits it brought.

7. How were these causes linked?

Look at the explanations below and decide which two causes are linked by them. Can you think of any other links?

A. Ownership of colonies boosted the pride people had in their country

B. Competition for colonies requires strong navies

C. Belief that their country was better than others produces a 'right to rule' mentality

D. Growth in armed forces causes countries to seek security agreements with other countries

E. People place a lot of national pride in the size and strength of their armed forces