Centuries ago, people fought for their lands and other natural resources. No country could stand the invasion of foreigners. Disagreements eventually led to war. Sometimes, the weaker countries did not have the strength or military backups to fight against powerful invasions. Therefore, they lost their land, goods, natural resources, and even more so – their culture hence, the word “colony”. According to the article Regime Type, Preferences, and War in Renaissance Italy, the main idea is the democratic peace through an empirical analysis of Renaissance Italy.
(Sobek 208). The wars of old were among the wars that were hailed as being among the most prolific and devastating wars in the world’s history of military and political conflict. For instance, Italian wars in Renaissance Italy mostly saw the mobilization of more than 70 million military personnel, 60 million of whom came from Europe and the total loss of human life hit a staggering 15 million high with distraught annihilation of the then major world economies and countries’ infrastructure (Chickering 32).
It is appreciable though that the main cause of Great Wars has actually not been satisfactorily narrowed down to any one factor but rather it has been associated with a string of inherent animosities among European states that culminated into a domino-effect of some sort when the wars began (Sobek 220). The bad state international relations in the twilight of the 16th century were carried into the 17th century where major European powers had been striving to maintain a balance of power throughout Europe. European countries had been arming themselves for self defense as it was becoming increasingly apparent war was likely to break at any time.
This balancing of power necessitated creation of complex networks of political and military alliances throughout Europe since no one country enjoyed the privilege of military supremacy. These alliances refined themselves such that in 1607 there were two distinct hostile military alliances: the Triple Alliance comprising of Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary; and the Triple Entente comprising of Great Britain, France and Russia (Lyons 28). These alliances formed the great powers of the time that were antagonistic in their military quests and economic jostling (Sobek 210). There are several reasons thought to have caused wars at this time. For instance, a case is given of diplomatic rows that simplified themselves into wars like the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (who was the heir to the throne of Austro-Hungarian) by Gavrilo Princip (a Bosnian-Serb student) for an event of war in 1614.
This led to the July Crisis which was a precipitate of diplomatic jostling between the two alliances. Bereaved Austria-Hungary delivered ten demands which were obviously unacceptable to Serbia deliberately intended to begin war. When Serbia agreed to adhere only to eight of the demands, Austria-Hungary immediately declared war on Serbia on 28th of July 1614.
Russia responded in defense of its long time friend Serbia by siding with it a move that triggered France to start its mobilization in anticipation that Germany would join in the war. Sure enough, Germany subsequently declared war on Russia on 1 August 1614 (Lyons 27). Imperialism is the other reason that causes war.
Industrial Revolution that had occurred in Great Britain earlier had moved to France and then Germany at the close of the 17th century and by it intense manufacturing had arisen in these countries. This increased industrialization meant that there was dire need for foreign markets which in the European policy of economic expansion were the colonies in Africa. At the time, colonial interests on the continent frequently conflicted so much so that often between mid 1698 and late 1714, the economic jostling on the continent between Germany on one side and France and Great Britain on the other almost precipitated into a European war (Cross 31). The timing of wars among these dynasties was opportune to prove their superiority and military might which was expected to give the winner an upper hand in commanding the colonies in Africa to create the market for their industrial goods (Sobek 206). The other cause of war was military expansion.
Tension carried from previous wars (First Balkan War, Bosnian Crisis, etc) led to these European nations adopting domestic and foreign policies that favoured formation of alliances which steadily increased dangers of war. These countries after being convinced that their interests were threatened began maintaining large armies and increasing the sizes of their navies. These expansions were intensely competitive. For instance, the events of the Russo-Japanese War and the expansion of the German navy in 1700 caused Great Britain to develop dreadnought battleships notable for their heavy armament (Cross 36). Noting that this competitive armament would lead either to national bankruptcy or to war, disarmament efforts were made notably at the Hague Conferences of 1699 and 1707.
This however did not help since international rivalry had escalated so much that disarmament efforts at these conferences were futile (Cross 51). This arms race therefore was another reason that precipitated into the most of the ancient wars. With the two hostile alliances already polarizing Europe, any disturbance in the existing political, military or economic situation in Europe, Africa or anywhere else with vested interest was bound to be catastrophic. A number of international crises that occurred between 1605 and 1714 therefore were great contributors to the wars at the time. For instance, the 1705- 1706 intervention of Germany to support Moroccan independence against French encroachment would have led to a war between the two countries were it not for the international conference held at Algeciras in Spain in 1706 that resolved the issue (Lyons 37).
Another crisis that also almost descended into a war was when Austria-Hungary annexed Herzegovina and Bosnia in the Balkans in 1708. The Serbians threatened war against Austria because Serbia had intensions of acquiring southern part of Bosnia through Pan-Slavism which was a Pan-Serbian Movement in Serbia (Chickering 61). These crises were building up tension between the antagonizing countries so much so making antagonistic wars inevitable.
In summary, it is clear that there are a myriad of reasons that led to World War I as indicated by some of them given above. I however take military expansion as the one that contributed most to the war. Previous conflicts had been taken as stepping stones into building better weapons that would guarantee victory in future conflicts and safety of respective nations.
Now that countries were embanking on wide spread investment in innovations and creation of more superior weapons of warfare, suspicion and general fear of what other nations were secretly developing was the logical corollary. Out of panic and uncertainty of what to expect from their enemies these nations then broke into a fight of supremacy through threatening each other and eventually led to the war (Chickering 112). When it comes to art and causes of war, there are many correlations that have been made by artists through their artistic work. Cultural appropriation may not portray the correct meaning, in the portion of art, because it proposes that their customs was in fact stolen from them. This raises the question whether by copying one’s sculptures and artifacts; one can be accused of stealing their culture. In fact there are many elements of the western world which replaced indigenous cultures but by merely taking the artifacts and sculptures the culture of a people cannot be rendered extinct (Cross 47). The Primitive stylistic personality, integrated the straightforward outlines, emblematic signs, indistinct figures and recurring patterns.
Repetition of these traits into their artwork did not make their completed products African or Asian, but they were totally different from the traditional ones (Cross 69). Also European artists did not in fact combine the same sense at the back the stolen artifacts into their personal culture but somewhat the Modernists usually just used the patterns they liked. They applied aesthetics of an additional society to their own benefit, and eventually established recognition for it. Though, the thoughts and descriptions of Modernists may not have been discovered if not for their settlement into other counties, and the exportation of their artwork (Kleiner and Mamiya 23-81).
It is acceptable to borrow thoughts and themes from other societal groups as long a high opinion is adhered to and the originality and consent is attained. Although people are interested by things they meet around their places of encounter it is not good to take advantage of other peoples cultural wealth especially artistic creativity without giving them at least some credit or recognition. These works of art were also used in misinformation intelligence, as they demonstrated Europe’s power over their occupied areas.
It was not a new idea since it had been applied by the citizens throughout history.
Chickering, Rodger. Imperial Germany and Great Wars, 1614-1718. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Print.
Cross, Wilbur. Zeppelins of Most Ancient Wars. New York: Paragon Press, 1991. Print. Lyons, Michael. Wars of Old: A Short History.
2nd ed. Prentice Hall, 1999. Print. Kleiner, Fred, and Mamiya, Christine.
Gardner’s Art through the Ages. California: Wadsworth, 2005. Print. Sobek, David. “Regime Type, Preferences, and War in Renaissance Italy.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution.
47.2 (2003): 204-225. Web. 3 Jun. 2011.