In 1882, the Triple Alliance was formed between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. This alliance ensured that each country would support the other if a war ever broke out between one of the allies and another great power. It was made as an attempt to isolate France and leave it defenseless and unable to fend off all three countries. This however, led the other Great Powers feeling threatened about the strength of the Triple Alliance.

Triple Alliance

They knew that if Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy acted together, they would be able to defeat each of the countries. 15 years later, the Triple Entente was formed between France, Britain, and Russia. Similar to an alliance, ententes were “friendly understandings” that made sure that each of the countries would not fight against one another. Although it was not their actual intention, the formation of both the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente would eventually lead to a world war. Once war broke out between Germany and France, all of the alliances would then be forced to become involved as well. This would be especially challenging for the Germans because they would then have to fight a two-front war with Russia on one side and France on the other.

Germany had been a long time rival of France, France wanting the return of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. Germany was also constantly competing with Britain in a naval arms race. Austria-Hungary and Russia both wanted control over the Balkans and Italy had some territorial disputes with Austria-Hungary over the large Italian communities that inhabited the Austrian empire. All of these conflicts between the two allied groups would result in a messy world war. Besides the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente, other alliances and agreements were being formed. By 1900, Britain had left its policy of isolationism and became allies with Japan. What could have originally been a local war between two countries, led to a whole world war due to the system of alliances that forced other countries to become involved.

Triple Entente

The alliances alone did not cause the start of the war, but rather many other factors had helped trigger it. Among these factors is nationalism. Nationalism is a very strong feeling of support toward one’s own country. This played an important role during World War I due to the fact that each country felt that it was better and more important than the others. This led to the aggressiveness in the way each country treated the other. No bad deed went unpunished. Nationalism only made the tension between the Great Powers even greater and resulted in a bloodier and more violent war.