Significant Political changes in the century before World War 1 - Essay Prowess

Significant Political changes in the century before World War 1


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Significant Political changes in the century before World War 1


Remarkable changes were witnessed in the century before the world war. Most of these changes involved political and economic alliances to extend borders and gain control of resources. In this study, we will focus on how superior nations formed alliances and made agreements to ensure control over their resources and the resources of their colonies and the results after that.

One of the changes before world war 1 that had a great significance was the unification of Germany which took place in 1871. The German states princes gathered in France in the Versailles palace to proclaim Prussia’s Wilhelm I a German emperor following the French capitulation during the Franco-Prussian war. The effective transformation of populations that were German-speaking to a state’s federation had been gradually developing promoted by informal and formal alliances among the princely rulers. The process had been negatively impacted by differences that had arisen due to the various parties self-interests. However, the unification proved to be only one step towards the right direction as tensions caused by linguistic, cultural, social and religious differences were exposed among the new nation inhabitants. The 19th century Germany enjoyed communications and transportation improvements that significantly promoted the unity between people and the different cultures. The unification led to the emergence in transportation modes that facilitated recreational and business travel which developed contact between German speakers all over Central Europe, which also sometimes led to conflicts. Economically, competition within and between states was reduced by the Prussian Zollverein creation and its expansion to include more countries in German confederation.

In addition a critical change was witnessed with the emergence of the Franco-Russian Alliance which was formed by the 1891-1894 alliance, which was in effect up to 1917. This created a foreign policy that was common between Russia and France and military interests that were mutual and strategic between the two nations (Kennan, 1984). The financial ties that developed due to the relationship between Russia and France led to the creation of economic prerequisites which were necessary for the alliance.

Another crucial change happened in December 1898 when the Treaty of Paris was signed. This represented an agreement of peace between the United States and Spain, which led to the end of the war between the two countries. However, the negotiations did not permit the participation of representatives from the colonies that were involved. The treaty resulted in ceding of Guam and Puerto Rico to the USA, Cuba becoming a protectorate of the USA and Philippines being bought by the USA for an amount of $20 million (Foner, 1972). The United States had made a promise that Cuba would not be annexed after the victory. However, after the war, Cuba was required to allow American intervention significantly in its internal affairs. Consequently, Cuba allowed American economic, military and diplomatic intervention as well as leasing of the Guantanamo bay for use by America. Filipinos felt that there was not much difference between the Spanish and the Americans. They tried to put up a rebellion which was defeated by the Americans who considered them to be unable to self-govern.


It is evident that the political and economic changes that came into effect before World War 1 were beneficial to the superior countries. In contrast, they caused social and economic problems to the colonies who were deprived of their freedom and valuable resources. The changes also contributed greatly to the start of World War 1.


Foner, P. S. (1972). The Spanish-Cuban-American War and the Birth of American Imperialism Vol. 2: 1898–1902 (Vol. 37). NYU Press.

Kennan, G. F. (1984). The fateful alliance: France, Russia, and the coming of the First World War. Manchester University Press.

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