History of Modern France

The Third French Republic 1870-1940. Part 5

9 June 2021

France, Europe and the Causes of the Great War

with Mariam Habibi

Sarajevo, Assassination of Franz Ferdinand 28 June 1914

Illustrated in the Italian newspaper Domenica del Corriere, 12 July 1914 by Achille Beltrame

In 1914, Europe descended into an abyss. The Great War was long, painful, and brutal. It also changed the face of Europe for ever. Before the outbreak of this war, Europeans were at the apogee of their power, enjoying prosperity and one of the longest periods of peace.

 

France, Great Britain, Germany and Russia ruled over much of the rest of the world and seemed oblivious to the fragility of their own existence. And yet, it took ‘a botched assassination’ in Sarajevo for European empires to collapse and Europe to start losing its supremacy. In the words of the British foreign minister, Sir Edward Grey “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time". We shall have a penetrating look at the factors causes and that brought about this calamity.