The rise of Germany
Until the middle of the nineteenth century Germany was divided into many separates states. The most important of these German states was a kingdom called Prussia, whose government was able to set up a new German Empire – a massive new state that included most German-speaking people. Wilhem I, King of Prussia, was declared to be the emperoror Kaiser of Germany.
Between 1871 and 1914 the economy of the new German Empire went from strentgh to strenght. This was based on an amazing industrial revolution and by 1914 the output of German factories had overtaken the output of British factories.
The new Kaiser
Now that Germany was the equal of Britain in terms of wealth and industry, some German people felt that their countryshould have a worldwide empire like Britain. Wilhem II came into power in 1888, and he wanted a new and more agressive approach to the rest of the world. He ended the friendly relationship between Germany and Russia, and as a result of this attitude other countries began to see Germany as a threat.
The arms race and the two alliances
At the close of the 19th century, British wealth and Britishnaval supremacy were being undermined; for the Germany young and headstrong Kaiser William II was now set on building up a big navy, acquiring great overseas empire, and becoming the strongest power in the world.
In 1879 Germany signed a treaty of alliance with Austria-Hungary. The two states remained allies in the decades that followed. This situation induced France and Russia in 1893 to sinktheir considerable differences and join together in a Dual Alliance. From this date onwards these two Powers therefore stood opposed to the rival combination formed in 1882 – The Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.
Meanwhile, Britain’s relations with France were poisoned by French resentment at the British occupation of Egipt, while Russian designes on the Balkans, China andIndia had encountered Britain’s opposition. At this point, Britain’s dangerous and exposed position caused by the whole policy of isolation to be called in question, so a first move in an opposite direction was taken. An Alliance with Japan was made, each promising to be neutral if the other were at war with one Power, and to give armed help if the other were at war with more than one Power.Having taken one step away from isolation, Britain found it easier to take the next. It was decided that needing a friend in Europe they sould make an effort to clear up difficulties with France. After a state visit to Paris by King Edward VII, the Entente Cordiale came into being in 1904. The formal agreement dealt only with colonial and trade questions. The two states promised therefore, only tostop quarrelling, they did not promise to co-operate.
Faced with the continued threat from Germany, and since they had made friends with France, it was logical to make friends with France’s ally, Russia. In 1907 an Anglo-Russian agreement was signed.
Once it was concluded, the Triple Entente – Britain, France and Russia – confronted the Triple Alliance. Thus fur had the German ambitions drivenBritain along the road from isolation.
We have already said that the German government had started building up an enormous navy that could challenge the might of the British navy. In 1898, the German Navy Law was designed to raise the Kaiser’s fleet from the fifth place among the world’s navies to equality with the first. At every point Britain seemed to collide with Germany, while the traderivalry between the two Powers was growing ever more acute. The British capacity for self-defense was being reviewed, from 1904 they energetically reformed the organisation and armament of the Navy. In 1906 it was launched a ship which outclassed all existing battleships and caused the navies of all Powers to be rebuilt, it was the Dreadnought. Finally, from 1909 to 1911 eighteen of these vessels...