Watch live AP World History live streams every week with Fiveable+ 👉 Join here

Though there were several events leading up to World War I, these actions are generalized by a vital concept known as MANIA - an acronym which comprises of the themes of Militarism, Alliances, Nationalism, Imperialism, and Assassination. 


  • Following the Industrial Revolution, nations developed the resources, equipment, and weapons necessary to mobilize the strength of their military. 
  • Nations, such as England and Germany, created policies that helped to amplify the power and size of their armies.

Alliances 👪 

  • Prior to World War I, two immense alliances (mutual agreements of protection between nations) established a sharp divide throughout the globe. 
  • Triple Alliance: Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary
  • Triple Entente: Britain, France, and Russia

Nationalism 🎏 

  • The French Revolution incited impact beyond France itself - it inspired change and unity within the most powerful European nations throughout the globe. 
  • Marked by a strong sense of pride and patriotism within one’s nation.

Imperialism 👑 

  • The need to colonize and fulfill the duties of White Man’s Burden - an obligation to educate the “uncivilized” groups of individuals. 
  • Nations competed for the spot for the most powerful European nation. This is an immediate example of Social Darwinism - Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest.

Assassination 🔫 

  • On this date, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was executed by a Serbian nationalist. This single execution was a spark that led Austria Hungary to declare war on Serbia. 
  • As a result, alliances connected to these nations declared war on each other one by one, igniting the official beginning of World War I.

Did this answer your question?