The Chronology of World War I (A. Manchester)

  • The Dual Alliance is Formed

    The Dual Alliance is Formed
    Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire agree to join forces in the Dual Alliance. This meant that, should one engage in war, the other would provide troops as well. This began a series of alliances that together would thrust much of Europe into war.
  • Period: to

    WWI -- From Before the Beginning to the Bitter End

  • Italy Joins Forces with Germany and Austria-Hungary

    Italy Joins Forces with Germany and Austria-Hungary
    Italy allies itself with Germany and Austria-Hungary, albeit reluctantly, agreeing to fight alongside them only in defensive conflicts. The Dual Alliance is thus expanded to Triple. Due to Italy's conditions joining the war, the offensive stance taken by its allies in the future means that Italy will do little fighting as a part of the Triple Alliance.
  • The Franco-Russian Alliance is Formed

    The Franco-Russian Alliance is Formed
    Though Russia had initially entered into dual neutrality agreement with Germany, the treaty expired in 1890 and the Germans refused to remove it. In the meantime, France was providing Russia with loans to build up its military, inadvertently improving their relationship as well. Russia soon joined forces with France in the Franco-Russian Alliance, which will drag it headlong into war upon the future invasion of France.
  • Britian and France Sign the Entente Cordiale

    Britian and France Sign the Entente Cordiale
    To maintain a balance of power in Europe and to counter the weight of the Triple Alliance, Britain and France made a series of agreements that became the Entente Cordiale. In addition to settling disputes regarding colonies and foreign influences, particularly in North Africa and Siam, the two were bound by a mutual fear of Germany. Both had previously been politically isolated. By entering into this alliance, Britain was setting itself up for war alongside France.
  • The Schlieffen Plan

    The Schlieffen Plan
    Seeing that it now has potential enemies on both the eastern and western fronts, Germany prepares for a dual conflict. In the case of war, it plans to first invade France in the hopes that Russia will take longer to mobilize its troops. Once France is eliminated, Germany would be able to devote its resources to fighting on the eastern front.
  • With the Ratification of the Anglo-Russian Entente, the Triple Entente Comes into Effect

    With the Ratification of the Anglo-Russian Entente, the Triple Entente Comes into Effect
    Although Anglo-Russian relations remain shaky, the two nations are willing to come to agreements regarding control over Persia (Iran), Afghanistan, and Tibet, and like previous agreements between Britain and Russia with France, the former two are drawn together in response to mutual fear of Germany. When World War I breaks out, all three will be politically tangled and forced to collaborate against the Triple Alliance.
  • Austria-Hungary Annexes Bosnia-Herzegovina

    Austria-Hungary Annexes Bosnia-Herzegovina
    With the decline of Ottoman rule in the Balkans, the Hapsburgs seized control of Bosnia. This led to tension in Bosnia and hatred towards Austria-Hungary and led to the assasination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Ultimately, it led to World War I.
  • Germany Engages in Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

    Germany Engages in Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
    In an attempt to impose a blockade on Britain to weaken it, Germany employed U-boats to sink any and all ships in British waters. Though the intention was to cut Britain off from foreign food, weapons, and other supplies, the Germans ended up sinking ships with American civilians on board. This lit the fuse on America's patience and would eventually drive it to join the fight against the Central Powers.
  • Gavrilo Princip Assasinates Franz and Sophie Ferdinand

    Gavrilo Princip Assasinates Franz and Sophie Ferdinand
    Gavrilo Princip and a handful of Slavic nationalists planned to murder the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on his visit to Sarajevo. Bosnians discontent with Austro-Hungarian rule and wanted to assert themselves politically. At the last minute, Princip's co-conspirators dropped out of the assasination. While the Archduke and his wife were on parade in the Sarajevan streets, he killed them. The Balkans are often referred to as the powder keg was Europe. Princip was the ignition.
  • July Crisis

    July Crisis
    Immediately following Princip's assasination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the Austro-Hungarians and Serbs make failed attempts at diplomatically resolving the issue. Austria-Hungary, entering negotiations already preparing for war.
  • Germany Gives Austria-Hungary a 'Blank Cheque'

    Germany Gives Austria-Hungary a 'Blank Cheque'
    Germany, seeing that war is imminent, offers Austria-Hungary its full political and military support regardless of its foreign policy or actions towards other countries. This essentially meant that Germany was agreeing to enter into the conflict against Serbia.
  • The Ultimatum is Not Met

    The Ultimatum is Not Met
    Austria-Hungary's ultimatum for Serbia isn't completely met and Austria breaks off relations with it. While Serbian forces begin to mobilize and Austria finalizes war preparations, the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente make their own diplomatic maneuvers, some half-heartedly attempting to negotiate peace while simultaneously preparing for war.
  • World War I Begins

    World War I Begins
    At 11:00 AM on July 28, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Germany and Russia are quick to enter the fray, and German plans to invade France are discussed.
  • Germany Declares War on Russia

    Germany Declares War on Russia
    Germany initiates the Schlieffen Plan, declaring war on Russia in the hopes that the Russians will take a long time to mobilize. Germany by extension is declaring war on England and France as well.
  • The Ottoman Empire Allies with Germany

    The Ottoman Empire Allies with Germany
    Many Ottomans wanted an alliance with Britain and France, but such an impossible alliance was impossible due to rivalry between Russia, the primary French ally, and Turkey. To encourage an alliance, Germany first persuaded Romania and Bulgaria to join the Central Powers. The Ottoman Emperor himself wished for Turkey to remain neutral, but he cracked under pressure from Germany and eventually agreed to join the Central Powers. Because of this, the Ottomans were dragged into the war.
  • Germany Declares War on France

    Germany Declares War on France
    Germany officially declares war on France and begins its campaign to take it over before the Russians arrive on the eastern front. They believe that victory over France will come swiftly and easily, but instead of avoiding a war on two fronts, the Germans create one. Trench warfare stalls progress in the west and they are forced to divide their resources between both fronts.
  • Britain Declares War on Germany

    Britain Declares War on Germany
    In addition to its agreements with France and Russia, Britain declares war on Germany due to its infringement of Belgian neutrality. Now entrenched in the war, it has essentially committed all available resources and manpower to a war that will be fought across the Channel rather than at home.
  • Battle of Liege

    Battle of Liege
    As the first step in the Schlieffen Plan, Germany breaches the Belgian border in order to reach France. The battle lasts eleven days until the German Second Army captures the defending Belgian forts and advances towards France.
  • Battles of the Frontiers

    Battles of the Frontiers
    The French initiate their own offensive strategy against the invading Germans, starting with the Battle of Mulhouse and followed by the invasion of Lorraine and the Battles of Ardennes, Charleroi, and Mons, respectively. Along this frontier, trenches are dug and the opposing forces do not advance far in either direction.
  • The Gallipoli Campaign Begins

    The Gallipoli Campaign Begins
    Britain and France sought to seize Constantinople from the Ottoman Turks to have a clear maritime route to Russia. The campaign concluded with a resounding Turkish victory in January of the following year. It set the stage for Turkish independence later on and was Turkish Commander Mustafa Kemal's claim to fame. His performance as a leader in WWI would someday make him Ataturk, the Father of the Turks for the republic that he eventually declared.
  • Italy Switches Sides and Joins the Entente

    Italy Switches Sides and Joins the Entente
    Upon being promised lands in Austria for its compliance, Italy switches sides in the conflict from the Central Powers to the Entente between Britain, France, and Russia. It had not played an active role as a Central Power in any case, having signed on only to fight in defensive conflicts. Italy fights Austria by itself for the most part until its allies send additional troops in 1917.
  • Battle of Verdun

    Battle of Verdun
    One of the bloodiest battles of World War I, there were over 680,000 casualties between the French and German soldiers that fought it. It was one of the many examples of how trench warfare was not suited for the advanced weaponry of the 20th century.
  • Battle of the Somme

    Battle of the Somme
    Another of the deadliest battles of WWI, over one million lives were lost. It was Britain, France, and a number of British posessions against Germany on French soil. It concluded with Germany having withdrawn 40 miles to the Hindenburg line.
  • The Zimmerman Note

    The Zimmerman Note
    Germany's Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmerman forwards a coded telegram to Mexico proposing that, if Mexico aids Germany in its war effort, it will help Mexico to take back territory that it lost to the United States. Britain intercepts, decodes, and fowards the message to the US. At this point, Germany has seen the end of America's patience.
  • Germany Resumes Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

    Germany Resumes Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
    Despite warnings from the US, Germany continues the practice of sinking all ships in British waters, merchant and passenger included. The US procedes to break off relations with Germany and prepares to enter World War I. President Wilson asks Congress to allow for it as Britain and France fight on.
  • Germany is Driven Back to the Hindenburg Line

    Germany is Driven Back to the Hindenburg Line
    After a long and exhausting battle against Britain, France, and their allies, Germany is forced back towards its own border. The war is not looking good for the Central Powers at this time and the allies are emerging as the more likely victors. Despite this, Germany continues to plan spring attacks on France in the hopes of regaining the upper hand.
  • The US Declares War on Germany

    The US Declares War on Germany
    Between the Zimmerman Note and unrestricted submarine warfare, Congress obliged President Wilson's request to enter WWI alongside Britain and France. With the aid of fresh American troops, the allies made significant progress and the war began its close.
  • Russia Signs the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and Exits WWI

    Russia Signs the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and Exits WWI
    Due to its revolution and mutiny throughout its grossly unequipped military, Russia can no longer afford to fight in WWI. It signs the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, declaring peace and granting independence to the Baltics, Belarus, Finland, and Ukraine to Germany. The treaty also instigates riots in Poland that end Polish support for the Central Powers.
  • The Battle of Reims

    The Battle of Reims
    Fought along the Marne River in France, it began as a German attack that backfired with an Allied counter-offensive. French and British troops, aided by fresh American soldiers, turned the war against the Germans. Meanwhile, the Central Powers were collapsing. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire were dissolving. In three months, Germany was forced to capitulate.
  • The Treaty of Versailles is Signed

    The Treaty of Versailles is Signed
    Intended to create a lasting peace, this treaty is negotiated in large part by the US, Britain, and France. The treaty stipulated that Germany had to bear the brunt of the war debt as well as the war guilt, among other things. The League of Nations and World Court were also established, though they did little to maintain peace or a balance of power for long. This treaty was ultimately one of the factors that led to World War II; the peace it secured was by no means lasting.