How Imperialism Set the Stage for World War I

World War I was not just a conflict between nations, it was a war between empires. Western European empires like Britain and France had overseas colonies around the world, while Eastern empires like Austria-Hungary and Russia ruled European territories and North Asian countries connected by land. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on July 28, 1914 was itself an anti-imperialist murder, planned by members of Young Bosnia angry at the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary.

European competition for imperial territories helped set the stage for the rivalries that unfolded during World War I, and the war in turn had a major effect on the balance of imperial power. The Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires all collapsed during or shortly after the war, which ended with a treaty that ceded Germany’s overseas colonies to the victors.

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