World War One was sparked by the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. But why did the death of one man result in so many countries getting involved in a worldwide war where thousands of people would lose their lives?

Existing Alliances

World War one was pretty much a domino-effect where one thing led to the other. Austria-Hungary decided that the death of their heir was directly the fault of the Serbian government and used the opportunity to declare war on Serbia. Russia had a defence treaty with Serbia and rushed to their aid. Germany sided with Austria-Hungry against Russia, causing France to enter the war as they had a treaty with Russia. Britain, who had an alliance with Belgium were drawn into the war as Germany had to get through Belgium to attack France and so it went on.

Fight for Territories

Before World War I, European countries have been competing for colonies. This competition for wealth and territories had increased the conflict between them, pushing the world closer to war.

Arms Race

At the start of the 20th centuries, countries were involved in an arms race. Each country tried to build a bigger army than the next, increasing their navies and weaponry. This helped push them towards war.

This article is part of our extensive collection of articles on the Great War. Click here to see our comprehensive article on World War 1.