INTERNATIONAL EVENTS 1870-1914
- Franco-Prussian War - In July 1870, France declared war on
Prussia in part over a disagreement about a Prussian
prince accepting the crown of Spain. By September
1870, a French army had been defeated, Emperor
Napoleon III captured at Sedan, France declared a
republic, and Paris under siege. In January 1871,
Wilhelm I of Prussia was crowned Kaiser Wilhelm I of
a unified Germany at Versailles, Paris fell, and
France surrendered, losing Alsace and Lorraine and
forced to pay huge reparations. Otto von Bismarck (left, at the
end of his career),
Chancellor of Prussia since 1862, and now Germany,
subsequently sought to keep France isolated to
prevent the recovery of Alsace and Lorraine.
1870 - Rise of
Italy - The French garrison of Rome withdrew
during the Franco-Prussian War. The city was seized
by Italian forces and the unification of Italy was
accomplished with Rome as capital.
1878 - Break-up of
the Ottoman or Turkish Empire in Europe -
Following the independence of Greece in 1832, the
dissolution of the Ottoman Empire continued after the
1877/78 Russo-Turkish War with the Congress of
Berlin. Montenegro, Serbia (both part of the old
southern Yugoslavia) and Rumania were made
independent. A 'small' Bulgaria also became
independent, but the remainder stayed Turkish.
Bosnia-Herzegovina (also part of the old Yugoslavia)
was administered by Austria while remaining in the
Ottoman Empire. Britain gained Cyprus. Russia and
Austria continued their rivalry for power in the
1879 - Dual
Alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary - Reached
between Germany and Austria-Hungary against possible
attack by Russia.
- European Occupation of North Africa - 50 years after
annexing Algeria, France declared Tunisia a
protectorate. Then in 1882 Britain occupied Egypt
(also part of the decaying Ottoman Empire) partly to
protect the Suez Canal (right, in 1904). Only Tripoli (or Libya) still
part of the Ottoman Empire and independent Morocco
stayed free of European domination for now.
1882 - Triple
Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy -
Against the threat of French attack, Italy joined the
three year old German-Austrian Alliance to form the
Triple Alliance. Chancellor Bismarck thus continued
his policy of isolating France. Rumania also joined
- European Colonisation of Africa - In 1876 Leopold II of Belgium
(left, in 1903)
started exploiting the Congo and European interest in
African colonies grew. Then at the 1884-85 Berlin
Conference, guidelines were drawn up to control the
'scramble for Africa'. Amongst the understandings
reached, the Congo was recognised as King Leopold's
personal property and Germany's protectorate over
Tanganyika or German East Africa was accepted.
1890 - Fall of
Chancellor Bismarck - Kaiser Wilhelm II, eldest
grandchild of Queen Victoria, came to the German
throne in 1888, by which time Bismarck's policies had
ensured that only France in Europe was hostile to
Germany. However differences over the Kaiser's desire
for better relations with Britain, German colonial
expansion, and a powerful navy led to Bismarck's fall
from power in 1890, and the start of the Kaiser's
erratic foreign policy.
1894 - Dual Entente
of Russia and France - Russia, concerned about
relations with Austria over the Balkans, turned to
France in a formal alliance against attack by
Germany, Austria's partner in the Triple Alliance.
- Rise of Japan
- With the Meiji emperor (left) assuming direct control of
the country in 1868, Japan started rapid
modernisation along western lines. In 1894-95, war
with China led to
the acquisition of Formosa. Korea was annexed in
- The Kruger Telegram. The Boer Republic of the Transvaal in
South Africa was internally self-governing under
President Kruger (left). To bring it fully under British
control, a raid was made into Transvaal led by
Jameson, head of Cecil Rhodes (of Rhodesia) private
army. The raid failed and the Kaiser sent a
congratulatory telegram to Kruger. It's offensive
tone helped start Anglo-German relations on the road
- European Powers in China. A German naval force seized Tsingtao
and the Shantung Peninsula. Britain already
controlled Hong Kong and much of the commerce of
south and central China, Portugal occupied nearby
Macao, and France had taken over Indo-China.
1898 - British
Isolation. Russian threats to British influence
in China led to Britain reconsidering its policy of
isolation and entering into a peacetime military
alliance. British overtures to Germany were rejected.
- Foreign Takeover of China - As the Great Powers scrambled for
concessions in China came to an end, Russia took over
Port Arthur on the Yellow Sea. (right - a company of Boxers
in Tien Tsin, two years later in the revolt against
- The Anglo-French Fashoda Incident. Thirteen years after the death
of General Gordon at Khartoum, Gen Kitchener
reoccupied the Sudanese capital following the Battle
of Omdurman. Only two months previously, a small
French force had reached Fashoda, south of Khartoum,
and claimed the Upper Nile for France. Gen Kitchener
sailed to take Fashoda (a Lt David Beatty commanded
one of the gunboats). After a lengthy confrontation
between the two countries and threat of war,
agreement was reached in early 1899 on Anglo-French
spheres of influence in Africa.
- Rise of the United States - The sinking of the USS 'Maine' in
Cuba's Havana harbour (right) led to the Spanish-American
War. As part of
the USA's continued rise to world power, the
Philippine Islands and Guam in the Pacific were taken
over from Spain.
Disputes between Germany and Britain (although not
the United States) over the future of Samoa were
resolved. Germany and the U.S. took control of the
island group and Britain withdrew completely in
exchange for Tonga and the German Solomon Islands
(including an island known as Guadalcanal!).
- Start of the Boer War - Transvaal and the Orange Free State
entered into an alliance, rejected continued British
control, and in October, the Boers attacked British
Bechuanaland, Cape Colony and Natal. Mafeking,
Kimberley and Ladysmith were besieged. Europe
supported the Boers against Britain in a war that
lasted until 1903.
- Boer War. By
June, the Transvaal cities of Johannesburg and
Pretoria had fallen to British forces and the
Republic annexed by Britain.
- Chinese Boxer Rebellion. After 60 years of dismemberment by
foreign powers, the Chinese at last reacted. A
Chinese secret society nicknamed the 'Boxers',
secretly supported by the Chinese empress, developed
to rid China of foreign domination. A series of
massacres led to the siege of the international
Legation Quarter in Peking, finally lifted after two
months by the troops of eight nations - European,
Russian, American and Japanese. (right - the "11th Regiment"
attacking Teintsin, believed to be a Japanese unit)
1901 - Anglo-German
Relationships. The two countries continued
alliance negotiations, which could led to Britain
becoming a member of the Triple Alliance of Germany,
Austria-Hungary and Italy. Germany continued to
prolong discussions, even at the risk of driving
Britain into the Dual Entente of France and Russia,
but they finally broke down over the Boer War.
- Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Alliance - Signed to provide both powers
with an ally and to counter Russian expansionism.
1904 - 'Entente
Cordiale' of France and Britain - Out of fear of
Germany, Britain and France settled a number of
differences (including France exchanging her
interests in Egypt for a free hand in Morocco), and
entered into an informal alliance. Although not a
military pact, the two countries later consulted on
both military and naval matters right up to the
outbreak of the Great War. (right - a 1915 German view of the
- Russo-Japanese War - Disputes over Manchuria and Korea
After destroying the Russian Baltic Fleet at the 1905
Battle of Tsushima and defeating Russia, Japan was
recognised as a world power. (below right - Russian armoured
cruiser 'Pallada' hit by 500lb shell in Port Arthur)
1905 - Russian
Revolution - Partly because of Russia's defeat by
Japan, the 1905 Russian Revolution (which included
the mutiny on battleship 'Potemkin') brought about
political concessions by the Tsar.
- First Moroccan Crisis - Fearing France would try to annex
Morocco, Kaiser Wilhelm II (left) visited Tangier and
announced his support for the Sultan.
1907 - Triple
Entente of Russia, France and Britain - Britain
and Russia settled a number of differences in Asia.
Then with both countries concerned about Germany, but
friendly with France, the 1894 Dual Entente and the
1904 'Entente Cordiale' became the Triple Entente of
Russia, France and Britain.
1908 - Bosnia
Crisis - An enlarged Bulgaria declared full
independence from Turkey. Almost immediately Austria
annexed the semi-independent Slav/Serb province of
Bosnia-Herzegovina arousing the hostility of Serbia
- Second Moroccan (Agadir) Crisis - With French troops in
Morocco, and fearing France would proclaim a
protectorate, Germany sent the gunboat 'Panther' to
Agadir. Germany backed down after a speech by David
Lloyd George. Morocco came under French control in
- Italian-Turkish War - Italy defeated Turkey and took the
Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean and Tripoli/Libya in
North Africa. All of North Africa was now in European
hands, and the European powers had completed the
partition of Africa. Only Ethiopia and Liberia
- Balkan Wars - Turkey had by now been expelled almost
completely from Europe and the Balkans. In the First War of
Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria defeated Turkey,
divided Macedonia between themselves, and created the
new country of Albania. Bulgarian dissatisfaction
with her gains led to the Second Balkan
War (1913) against
her previous allies, and to defeat. Serbia (Austria's
enemy) emerged as the leading Balkans power.
(right - New York Greeks
leaving for the Balkans Wars)
1914 - By now
the international tensions were many and complex. On
what became the Allied side, these include:
fear of German naval power and colonial
never relinquishing her claim to Alsace and
the Balkan Slavs against the Austrians with
Serbia seeking to be leader of those Slavs;
On the part of the
Central Powers (right - one allied view of German
to envy British colonial and naval power;
was under growing pressure to grant more
independence to her many minority populations
including Serbs; and
came under growing German military influence.
FINAL STEPS, Summer 1914
assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in June 1914, seven
European nations went to war between late July and
early August 1914:
The Central Powers of
Austria-Hungary and Germany (the Triple Alliance less
Italy and Rumania); and
The Allies of
the Triple Entente (Russia, France and Britain and their Empires) in defence
of Serbia and Belgium:
28th - Archduke
Franz Ferdinand, nephew of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary and heir to the throne, and
his wife, were visiting Sarajevo, capital of annexed Bosnia-Herzogovina. Both were shot and killed by
student Gavrilo Princip, member of a Serbian secret society.
23rd - Austria, threatened by Russian support for Serbia, but now assured of German backing, sent an ultimatum
demanding that Serbia
suppress all anti-Austrian activities. (right - Austrian cavalry,
year not known)
25th - Serbia ordered mobilisation, but also
agreed to meet most of Austria's demands.
28th - Austria declared war on Serbia, and next day bombarded
Belgrade the Serbian capital. Austrian forces were
not yet ready to invade.
30th - Russia, committed to the defence of Serbia, finally decided on general
31st - Austria announced general mobilisation.
Germany insisted Russia halt mobilisation and demanded
to know if France
would remain neutral if Germany went to war with Russia.
1st - France mobilised. Germany also ordered mobilisation and
declared war on Russia
Schlieffen Plan required France to be defeated in battle before Russia could be attacked, thus making
war with France
inevitable). Italy announced neutrality.
2nd - Germany invaded Luxembourg early on the 2nd and sent a
note to Belgium demanding free passage of troops
through Belgium territory for the attack on France. Britain assured France that the British Fleet would protect
the French coast and shipping from German attack.
3rd - Belgium refused German demands, and the King of the
Belgians appealed for the preservation of Belgian
neutrality (right - the 'scrap of paper'). Germany declared war on France.
4th - Britain protested against German violation of Belgian territory. Invading Belgium early on the 4th, Germany declared war on Belgium. British mobilisation was
ordered; Britain went to war with Germany from midnight on the 4th.
6th - Austria finally declared war on Russia.
10th and 12th
- France and Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary.
23rd - Outside
declared war on Germany.
NATIONS OF THE WORLD AT WAR,
the world eventually joined the seven European
nations at war:
Western - Great
Britain and Ireland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg.
joined by Italy in May 1915, Portugal in March 1916
and Greece in June 1917; Eastern - Russia and Serbia. Joined by
Montenegro and Albania in January 1916, and Rumania
in August 1916.
(right - A French view of
Germany's "main industry")
Powers - Germany
and Austro-Hungary. Joined by Turkey in November
1914, and Bulgaria in October 1915.
Neutral - Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland,
Switzerland, and Spain.
NORTH and SOUTH AMERICA
Empire - Canada,
Newfoundland, Bermuda, West Indies, British Guiana,
and Falkland Islands; French Empire - West Indies and French
Countries joining Allies - United States in April 1917,
followed by Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras,
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Brazil. In addition
Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Uruguay broke off
relations with Germany and became associated powers.
The other countries of
South America remain neutral - Colombia, Venezuela,
Paraguay, Chile, and Argentina.
British or French Empire plus Italian - Libya, Eritrea, Italian
Somliland; Belgium - Belgian Congo; Portuguese - Angola, Mozambique.
German - German West
Africa (Togo, Kamerun), German South West Africa,
German East Africa (postwar Tanganyika).
joined Allies in August 1917, Ethiopia.
Empire or dominated
- Aden, Oman, Trucial Coast of Arabia, Kuwait, India,
Burma, Malaya, northern Borneo, Hong Kong,
Wei-hai-wei in northern China; French - Indo-china; United States - Philippine Islands.
joining Allies -
Japan in August 1914, Siam in July 1917, China in
German - Kiachow Bay in
northern China; Turkish or Ottoman Empire - Turkey in Europe and Asia
Minor, the Levant States of Syria and Lebanon,
Palestine, most of present day Jordan and Iraq, the
Red Sea coast of Arabia including the Hejaz and
Remaining Neutral -
Persia, Afghanistan, Dutch East Indies.
Australia, New Zealand, Papua, many island groups in
the South Pacific; French - Island groups in South Pacific;
United States - Hawaiian Islands, Guam in the
Marianas group, Samoa.
German - Mariana, Caroline and
Marshall Island groups in the Central Pacific, German
New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Western Samoa.