Why Franz Ferdinand's Death Was Not The Main Cause of the First World War by Anthony Holder
Updated: Apr 21
About the Author
My name is Anthony, and I am an 8th grader at Farragut Middle School. I have been writing for 6 years now, and I also like sports. I play soccer, track and field, and the piano. I am interested in math and social studies. One of my goals is to continue to write different types of essays. I hope I can continue to write in an engaging way.
Why Franz Ferdinand's Death Was Not The Main Cause of the First World War
by Anthony Holder
According to Shackelford, Co-Founder of WWW/WWI, on June 24, 1914, the assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand began a series of events that would lead to the First World War. Serbians who hated Austria-Hungary for the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina attempted to kill him twice. The first attempt was when one assassin threw a bomb, but he missed the archduke’s car. The second attempt on his life was made by Gavrilo Princip. He shot the archduke and his wife, fatally killing both. After the assassination, the Austro-Hungarians who had lost their heir to the throne sent Serbia an ultimatum. The Serbians accepted all but one of the terms provoking Austria-Hungary to declare war. While in reality this was how World War One started, if the archduke had not been killed, there still would have been war because of the two main alliances.
The First World War would have still happened because of the intertwined web of alliances, the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente (Little). Europe was entangled in alliances, and the assassination started the war. Yet the tension between the countries would have still erupted into war. The Serbs were still angry at Austria-Hungary because of the annexation of Bosnia. The Germans backed the Austrians with their “blank check,” so the Austrians believed that in any war they entered, the Germans would also join. The alliances also meant that anyone that the Germans or others invaded would call in their allies. The belief that any war that started would be quick combined with imperialism was the true cause of the war.
The Triple Entente was an alliance between the French, British, and Russians (Verma). The faction was created to protect each other if any other country attacked them. They had, “strategic and military commitments towards each other in case of a war with either Germany or Austria-Hungary.” The alliance was tested in the first Moroccan crisis of 1905-06, which was an “international dispute held over the status of Morocco.” The Triple Entente, “got strengthened instead of getting weakened by the German challenge to France over Morocco.” The other large alliance was the Central Powers; named due to its location in Central Europe.
The Central Powers consisted of Italy, Germany, and Austria-Hungary (Verma). The alliance began as a “defensive Dual Alliance system between Austria-Hungary and Germany… formed to counter the potential Russian Aggression.” Later Italy joined the alliance in 1882. The purpose of this alliance was to protect against other alliances and to make sure that if one country was invaded, the rest would come to its aid. The Central Powers were also created to make sure that there was a balance between them and the Entente. The inevitability of the war was not based on the assassination but on the combined effect of the alliances and imperialistic ambitions of Europe.
Countries in Europe including the UK, Germany, and France were fighting to control colonies in Asia and Africa (Kiger). These countries wanted power and because most of the world had already been claimed, they needed to invade other nations to expand. This was displayed when the Italians invaded Libya in 1911. The Italians attacked the Ottoman Empire for control over the African territory. This war and others like it would have started the war anyway. Compounding imperialism, leaders believed that most wars they had entered previously were quick so wars that would follow would be the same. There had never been a world war before, and leaders had no idea how long and deadly it was.
The alliances and imperialistic ambitions of Europe erupted into war in 1914 and even without Franz Ferdinand dying, war would have still been inevitable. Europe was a powder keg waiting to explode, and the powder keg would be sparked by Europe’s ambitions to expand into occupied countries. These key factors all contributed to the leadup to the First World War. The war was built on imperialism and the assassination just made the alliances fight. The effect of the intertwining alliances was that the major nations were all prepared to defend each other in case of a war. After the war the League of Nations was formed so there could be a change. The allies acknowledged that with alliances and no world order the world powers would fight again.
Kiger, Patrick J. “8 Events that Led to World War I.” History.com, 6 April 2021, https://www.history.com/news/world-war-i-causes. Accessed 17 March 2023.
Little, Becky. “How a Regional Conflict Snowballed Into World War I.” History.com, 4 February 2022, https://www.history.com/news/regional-conflict-world-war-i-beginning. Accessed 17 March 2023.
Shackelford, Micheal. “The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.” WWW/WWI, https://net.lib.byu.edu/estu/wwi/comment/sarajevo.html. Accessed 17 March 2023.
Verma, Aakriti. “Circumstances Leading to Formation of Triple Alliance and Triple Entente.” Diplomatist, 19 April 2021, https://diplomatist.com/2021/04/19/circumstances-leading-to-formation-of-triple-alliance-and-triple-entente/. Accessed 17 March 2023.