Wilhelm II ascends to the German throne, soon dismisses chancellor and statesman Otto von Bismarck and refuses to renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, which preserved peace between Russia and Austria-Hungary and strategically left France out of the treaty. This ultimately leads to the 1892 alliance between France and Russia — and the eventual foundation of the Triple Entente (formed when Britain joins in 1907).
The Russo–Japanese War marks the peak of Russia and Japan’s rivalry over Manchuria and Korea. Russia suffers disastrous defeat, and as a result turns its focus on Europe. As its interest in the Balkans grows, so does its longstanding rivalry with Austria-Hungary, which also has a great interest in the region.
Most nations ignore the very real evidence of what occurs during the Russo–Japanese War, which proves very graphically the power of the machine gun and barbed wire as defensive devices.
In response to Germany’s rapid growth as a military and naval power, the British enter into an alliance with France, known as the Entente Cordiale.
Britain enters into an alliance with France’s ally, Russia, to form the Triple Entente — the core of the Allies during the First World War.
Creation of the Royal Canadian Navy, under Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier. The RCN replaced Britain’s Royal Navy as maritime security in Canadian waters. This happened despite the vehement opposition of Sir Robert Borden and his Conservative Party, who, alarmed by Germany’s growing naval might, wanted Canada’s $3 million in annual naval expenditures to go directly to the support of Britain’s navy.
Robert Borden defeats Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberals to become Canada’s eighth prime minister. Borden would lead Canada through the First World War.
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Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated during a visit to Sarajevo. The conspirators are Bosnian Serbs, from a revolutionary movement called Mlada Bosna (“Young Bosnia”). Austria-Hungary accuses Serbia of orchestrating the assassination, which triggers the events that lead to the outbreak of the First World War.
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Germany issues the “blank cheque” to Austria-Hungary, declaring their unconditional support for any action taken by the latter in response to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, regardless of the risk of war with Russia.
Austria-Hungary gives its ultimatum to Serbia, still opportunistically working on the assumption that the Serbian government is responsible for the June 28 assassination.
Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary declares war on its neighbour, despite the fact that Serbia has conceded to nearly all demands set forth in Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum.
The beginning of action in the First World War: Austria-Hungary invades Serbia and bombs Belgrade. Austro-Hungarian troops are repeatedly repulsed in the ensuing months.
Russia, an ally of Serbia, fully mobilizes its forces.
Germany mobilizes its forces, declaring war on Russia.
Germany declares war on France, in accordance with the nearly decade-old Schlieffen Plan, which outlined a way for Germany to ensure victory by waging war on both French and Russian fronts. France declares war on Germany.
After neutral Belgium refuses to grant German troops free passage to France, Germany declares war on Belgium and invades. As a result of this invasion, Britain declares war on Germany. All dominions, Canada and Australia included, are obliged fight with Britain. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declares U.S. neutrality.