Editor's Note: I have assembled here the most
useful Alliances links that I have found on the Internet. However,
I must admit my disappointment in the quality of material that I came across.
Most of the pages I found simply gave brief summaries of the two camps
in August 1914, with maybe a description of how the assassination of Archduke
Ferdinand started the downward spiral. I have omitted from
this page what I considered to be redundant links and have tried to give
you some of the more interesting or nuanced sites that I found. If
you happen to find other useful links to World War I alliances (or Belgian
neutrality), please e-mail Professor
Setear so that we can include those links within this site.
A nice collection of all the major alliance treaties, with a brief note about each one and the circumstances under which it was concluded, can be found at Timeline 1879-1914: The Deadly Alliances, http://www.worldwar1.com/tlalli.htm. This is the most comprehensive site I have found on all the alliances leading up to the war.
Bismarck started the whole process of alliance treaties, the first of which was the 1879 Dual Alliance between Austria-Hungary and Germany, to which Italy would adhere three years later. Then, to further isolate France in continental politics, Germany procured a pledge of benevolent neutrality from Russia in the event Germany was at war with another great power (see the 1887 Reinsurance Treaty). In return, Germany recognized the Russian territorial acquisitions in the Balkans and promised its assistance in restoring a regular government in Bulgaria. Finally, the two sides promised not to allow a modification of the territorial status quo in the Balkans without a previous agreement between them.
Alliances Led to a Great War, http://www.mrdowling.com/706-alliances.html, is a brief summary of the interlocking alliances and how a small conflict conflagrated into a continental war. There is also a brief paragraph on the U.S. decision to join the Allied powers.
The War to End All Wars, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/special_report/1998/10/98/world_war_i/newsid_198000/198172.stm, is a general description of the war, citing the system of alliances as the major reason the tensions in the Balkans spun out of control. Of particular interest on this site is a map of war deaths from the European belligerents, even including a breakdown of the deaths from the many parts of the British Empire.
For a firsthand account of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, see http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1914/ferddead.html. Told by one of the Serbian nationalist leaders who had helped plot the assassination and was arrested with Princip shortly thereafter, the story describes many potential assassins hoping for a clear shot at Ferdinand that summer day, to undermine the oppressive Austro-Hungarian Empire "built by conquest and intrigues, by sales and treacheries." This assassination was the spark that set the continent on fire later that summer.
The Roumanian Campaign, http://www.mcs.net/~mikei/tgws/rel006.htm,
is a long article discussing all the major issues surrounding Romania's
involvement in World War I. The article begins by describing the
situation in August 1916 when Romania entered the war against Germany.
Romania had a considerable number of men in its infantry battalion, but
many of the divisions were not well-prepared, due to the lack of competent
officers to organize and train new units. Furthermore, the weapons
at their disposal were inferior to the much smaller German battalion they
fought. The article goes on to discuss the battle plans considered
by the Romanians and the strategies they actually implemented. But
the strategies failed, and Romania was defeated in early December 1916.
A sizeable section assessing the shortcomings of the Romanian campaign
concludes the article. This is a great resource for people interested
in the military strategy from the war, and indeed, the article, from the
Fall 1996 issue of Relevance: The Quarterly Journal of the Great
War Society, was extracted from Supplemental Material on the First
World War published in 1944 by the Department of Military Art and Engineering,
United States Military Academy.
Alliances from other wars