The Alliance System

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political cartoon about the Alliance System

More Information

The Outbreak of World War I: Causes and Responsibilities
by Holger H. Herwig

(Problems in European Civilization series)


The leaders were unable to back away from their national "honor" and the entangling alliances they had agreed to.

The Dual Alliance of 1879 - Germany and Austria-Hungary made an alliance to protect themselves from Russia.

The Austro-Serbian Alliance of 1881 - Austria-Hungary made an alliance with Serbia to prevent Russian aggression in Serbia.

The Triple Alliance of 1882 - Germany and Austria- Hungary made an alliance with Italy to stop Italy from taking sides with Russia

The Franco-Russian Alliance of 1892 - Russia formed an alliance with France to protect herself against Germany and Austria-Hungary

Entente Cordiale of 1904 - This was an agreement between France and Great Britain ending conflict between the two nations

The Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907 - This was an agreement between Britain and Russia concerning an end to imperialistic rivalries in Persia, Afghanistan and Tibet.

The Triple Entente of 1907 - The Anglo-Russian Entente combined with the Entente Cordiale created what is called the Triple Entente between Russia, France and Britain - an agreement to defend each other in the event of a threat from Germany - a counter to the Triple Alliance

The Triple Entente of 1914 - Britain, Russia and France agreed not to agree to peace separately

In spite of a series of last minute telegrams between the cousins Kaiser Wilhelm and Nicholas II trying to avoid a general war (dubbed the Willy-Nicky Telegrams) the alliance system brought all the major European powers to war.

Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia, who they believed had supported the assassins. Russia, the traditional friend and ally of their fellow-Slavs, the Serbians, came to their support. Russia's ally France also mobilized for war. Germany, the ally of Austria Hungary, then came to the aid of their ally and invaded neutral Belgium to get to France. When the French violated Belgian neutrality, Great Britain entered the fray. Other  nations followed. What should have been a small local war became the first world war. 

World War I

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