What Caused World War I and How It Ended

Looking back in history is easier than looking at the present. We have time to reflect on what has occurred. One important question that we should reflect on is what causes World War 1? Answering this questions is very important for identifying future potential conflicts and how to avoid them.

M-A-I-N causes

You might have read in textbooks that world war was sparked by the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. That might be true that it sparked the war, however, there were much more going on. There have been assassinations since world war 1 and they have not caused global military conflict. What else was going on? Many historians have an idea for the main causes. The call these causes the M-A-I-N causes. Catchy name.


Countries were explaining their military and believed that war was part of nature and good for a country.
Alliances were formed to protect colonies and keep neighbor’s power in check.
Imperialism occurred to get resources from other places.
Nationalism prevented a country from being sympathetic and see things from another countries point of view.


These four were the background to the world then. The gunpowder, but gunpowder by itself will not burn you need a spark. In Austria-Hungary, there was political unrest with different ethnic groups. The Slavic groups wanted their own country and had enough of the Austria-Hungary monarchies. The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was an outcome of this tension and this lit the gunpowder. Austria-Hungary later invades Serbia, which might have helped in the assassination. Russia mobilizes its troops in response. Russia, France, and England had an alliance that required them to mobilize their troops if any of the three countries mobilized.

That’s a simplification of how WW1 started.

How WW1 end?

It ended with the entrance of the United States (US) into the war. The US did not have super soldiers or better military tactics, it had economics. The war had come to a stalemate with both sides matched economically. Russia had left the war from their revolution. Effective the war was France and England vs. Germany.

Why did the US side with England?

The US sided with England because Germany attacked Belgium (a neutral country), German U-boat attacks which violated international laws and sunk US ships, and we spoke the same language. Not that the US, England, and France were perfect, they weren’t. The reason why the US entered the war was because of economics. The US was in the right position to have a major impact in the war and benefited from joining the war economically. Prior to the US joining World War I both groups put up blockades to prevent the US from trading with their opponent. This block in trading was significant to the US gross domestic product which heavily relied on trading with Europe. Entering the war allowed the US to trade, a benefit to the US economy.


With the US entering the war, more resources tipped the scale towards the United Kingdom, and France. This is how the war ended, with the US economy.

World War I ended when an external party provided more resources, disrupting the political balance. The external party was when the US entered the war. The one army outlasted the other.

Next we’ll look at the M-A-I-N causes in todays political climate. Could there be another World War coming? Here is look at these factors today in Asia.


A battlefield from world war one that has trenches.

Also see:

Causes of World War 1 Wikipedia article