As you know, I am working on an Important Project: the creation of a First World War live blog. As an appetiser for this I will over the next few days present here what I consider to be thirteen key episodes in the Great War. If you are already very familiar with that struggle then these might be rather obvious to you, but you might still find it interesting to consider what crucial events I have forgotten to include.
The July Crisis was the period from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the 28th June 1914 to the outbreak of war at the end of July. Franz Ferdinand was the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary and Gavrilo Princip, his assassin, was a Bosnian Serb with links to secret societies in Serbia proper. On the 23rd of July Austria-Hungary issued an unacceptably harsh ultimatum to Serbia. It was only at this point that most people in Europe realised they were on the brink of war. Russia backed Serbia and France backed Russia while Germany backed Austria and the continent slid towards armageddon.
The July Crisis is interesting because you can observe events and see how they mesh with your ideas of what caused the war and who was responsible for it. Was it a series of miscalculation by various actors that brought about the terrible war? Was it German and Austrian bellicosity that brought about the disaster? Or was Europe in 1914 a powder keg to which Princip merely supplied the spark?
Franz Ferdinand (Wikipedia)
Gavrilo Princip (Wikipedia)