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First World War timeline

by Kit
Published: Updated: 889 views
Black and white photo of troops moving in a trench. Explosion ahead.

Educational Resource

If you are doing history about First World War (WW1 or WWI) you are very welcome to view and use this resource.

This timeline focuses on the history of the start of WWI and the fighting in Europe between Germany (in a Triple Alliance) and British and French in the Triple Entente. It is therefore very anglicised and does not discuss very much at all the fighting in other parts of the world during this period.


Although the July Crisis is seen as the prelude to the start of the First World War it’s perhaps worth understanding the background to the July Crisis and the various influences that precipitated the assassination. Chiefly among these, it appears was the 1878 Treaty of Berlin.

Treaty of Berlin

Following the Russian victory in the Russo-Turkish war (1877-1878), the major powers (Austro-Hungarian empire, France, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland, Italy, Russia and Ottoman Empire) as well as four Balkan states (Serbia, Romania, Montenegro and Greece) met and restructured the map of the Balkan region.

The talks although hailed a success left a lot unhappy.

  • Serbia, Montenegro (both part of the South Slavs speaking nations) along with Romania gained complete independence.
  • Great Britain took over Cyprus (wrangled by the promise to use Cyprus as a base to protect the Ottoman Empire from Russia).
  • Although Russia won the war it found itself having to return a lot of land it had gained. Russia felt humiliated at the conference and resented its treatment.
  • Austria-Hungary gained a very large amount of territory including Bosnia and Herzegovina which bred resentment by the South Slavs as Bosnia and Herzegovina were South Slavs speaking nations and more closely akin to Serbia. A feeling Serbia helped maintain….

Over the next few years, Europe becomes more polarised along with increased distrust and small wars. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_World_War_I#Polarization_of_Europe,_1887-1914

First World War Timeline

[Use the ‘Full Screen’ icon top right of the timeline to view larger if too small for you.]

The advantage of timelines are they help to show how things happened over a time scale rather than a condensed list or being fed the odd snippet of what happened out of context.

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