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Britain Should Not Have Fought in the First World War


Britain Should Not Have Fought in the First World War

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Filmed at the Royal Geographical Society on 15th April 2014.

The First World War is not called the Great War for nothing. It was the single most decisive event in modern history, as well as one of the bloodiest: by the time the war ended, some nine million soldiers had been killed. It was also a historical full stop, marking the definitive end of the Victorian era and the advent of a new age of uncertainty. By 1918, the old order had fallen: the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia; the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires had been destroyed; and even the victorious Allied powers had suffered devastating losses. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars. And yet barely two decades later, the world was again plunged into conflict. Little wonder then that historians still cannot agree whether Britain's engagement was worth it.

For some, the war was a vitally important crusade against Prussian militarism. Had we stayed out, they argue, the result would have been an oppressive German-dominated Europe, leaving the British Empire isolated and doomed to decline. And by fighting to save Belgium, Britain stood up for principle: the right of a small nation to resist its overbearing neighbours.

For others, the war was a catastrophic mistake, fought at a catastrophic human cost. It brought Communism to power in Russia, ripped up the map of Europe and left a festering sense of resentment that would fuel the rise of Nazism. We often forget that, even a few days before Britain entered the war, it seemed likely that we would stay out. H. H. Asquith's decision to intervene changed the course of history. But was it the right one?

Why World War I Was Britain's Fault | Avoiding the British Empire 5

Who started World War One? It's one of history's most controversial questions. But if you look at it the right way, it's obvious that the British Empire is responsible... #WorldWarOne #BritishEmpire #WWI

Buy the book, Avoiding The British Empire!

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Was WWI the Error of Modern History? (Interview with Niall Ferguson )

Niall Ferguson, author of The Pity of War, argues that Britain should have stayed aside from the continental war in 1914.

Why did Britain enter the First World War? The Russian Question - Professor Christopher Clark

Did Britain enter World War I in order to defend Belgium, or was it merely in order to appease the great threat of Russian aggression?
Professor Christopher Clark picks his way through this tricky question.
It was a question of whom do you appease and whom do you oppose.

This is an extract taken from a Gresham College lecture:

Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 1,600 lectures free to access or download from the website.

WWI: The War That Changed Everything

Think of all the horrors of the 20th Century: The Holocaust. The Bolshevik Revolution. The Cold War. Were it not for the assassination of one Austro-Hungarian archduke in 1914, none of those events would have ever happened. Historian and author Andrew Roberts explains.
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As an historian, I’m often asked if I could stop one event in modern history from happening, what would it be?

My answer is World War I.

If there had been no World War I, there would have been no Russian Revolution, no World War II, no Holocaust, no Cold War.

And that doesn’t even consider the millions who died in the war itself.

Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Europe experienced an unprecedented period of economic growth. Brought about by the Industrial Revolution, this new prosperity spawned rapid developments in science, medicine, art, and political philosophy.

The future of civilization never looked brighter. And then, suddenly, it all went up in flames.

The fuse was lit in June 1914, in a street in Sarajevo, Bosnia. It was there that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. It should have been no more than a sad footnote in history. Instead, it changed history.

Austria-Hungary, seeking to avenge the Archduke’s murder, declared war on Serbia. But before taking this drastic step, it asked for—and received—a blessing from its powerful ally, Germany.

Serbia, knowing that it had no chance against Austria-Hungary, called on its ally, Russia, to defend it. Russia agreed.

To strengthen its hand, Russia solicited French support should war break out. France, ever suspicious of German intentions, assented.

Germany then made a pre-emptive move to take France out of the war. The German command, having long planned this war, invaded France through neutral Belgium. This prompted Britain to join France against Germany. Suddenly, the entire continent was engulfed in war.

The key player was Germany. Their strategy was to punch through Belgium and France and capture Paris before the French had time to react. This was the so-called Schlieffen Plan, named after the German general who conceived it. With France conquered, they would turn their attention to Russia.

That Germany thought it would actually work comes down to one man, Germany’s leader, Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Emperor of Germany from 1888 until his forced abdication in 1918, Wilhelm was a profoundly unpleasant, unstable and vicious personality, who suggested that Jews could be dealt with by gas. By 1914, he believed that Germany should not only dominate Europe, but the entire world.

Had the Schlieffen Plan worked, Germany most certainly would have. But it didn’t work. The British and the French put up stiff resistance in the west. Russia did the same in the east. The losses incurred by all sides were immediate—and appalling.

For the complete script, visit

World War I - summary of the Great War

Let's retrace on a map a summary of the chain of events of WWI, the so-called Great War. This video summarises the origins, course and consequences of this war.


English translation & voiceover: Rahul Venkit
French version (original):
Russian version:
Arabic version:

Music: God Fury - Anno Domini Beats (YouTube Library)
Software used: Adobe After Effects

Have the British really invaded 90% of the countries in the world?

First 500 people to sign-up get TWO months of Skillshare completely free:

Did you know that Great Britain have invaded 90% of the countries all the world that exist today at some point in their history? Amazing, right? Or is it...?

I look at the claim that Britain have invaded 90% of the countries in the world in more detail to find out to what extent this is really true.

The fact originates from a book entitled All the countries we've ever invaded and the few we never got round to, released in 2012 by Stuart Laycock. Here's a link of you're interested:
Even though the book quite a bit sensationalised, and I disagree with a lot of countries that have been invaded, I still really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in British history.

Brittle Rille - Kevin MacLeod

Map that I made for the video:

The Great WWI Controversy: Who Was to Blame? A Panel Discussion on the Centennial

The origins of the First World War have aroused deep controversy for decades. On the centennial of the war, there is renewed interest in revisiting its origins. Was Germany to blame? Did Europe’s statesmen sleepwalk to war? In this panel discussion, leading historians and IR experts will weigh in on the debate and offer lessons for avoiding another great power conflict.

Graham Allison: Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School
Peter Gourevitch: Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego
Charles S. Maier: Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University
Thomas Weber: Professor of History and International Affairs, University of Aberdeen; Visiting Scholar, CES
Chaired by: Alison Frank Johnson: Professor of History, Harvard University

Monday, Nov 24th, 2014

Politics and the First World War - Professor Sir Richard Evans

The First World War put unprecedented strains on the economic, social and political systems of all the combatant nations. A year after the war ended, the Great European Empires had collapsed, and new, extremist ideologies, from fascism to communism, had emerged to disturb the postwar political world.
This lecture explores the reasons for the radical political changes that made the First World War the seminal catastrophe of twentieth-century Europe.

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:

Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 1,700 lectures free to access or download from the website.

The Only Countries That Have Never Lost A War

War has affected every country across the globe, but only two countries remain undefeated in war. Those two countries are Canada and Australia, but how did these two countries manage to avoid a loss during heavy combat? Watch today's incredible new video to find out how Canada and Australia are the undefeated champions of war.

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The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won

In his new book The Second World Wars, Victor Davis Hanson offers a stunning reinterpretation of history's deadliest conflict. One of the nation’s leading historians and commentators, Hanson draws on 3,000 years of military history to place this interconnected global war in context. Please join us for a spirited discussion of this seminal history.

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Advanced World War I Tactics with General Melchett

General Melchett shares some of his wisdom en gives an insight in the life of a British general during the first world war.
Behold as grande tactics unfold beneath your very own eyes and grasp you with this A-historic comedy.
He fails to understand or comprehend the basic concepts of modern trench warfare and is totally unable to come up with a new strategy that would suit it. Instead he continuously sends men to a senseless death with seemingly no tactics at all.

Best wishes,

The Roads to World War I: Crash Course European History #32

Much has been written about what exactly caused World War I. As befits a true global war, the reality is that there isn't a single cause. There aren't even three causes. There are a vast array of causes. Today we'll get into just a few of those causes, including the complex system of alliances in Europe, the myriad military conflicts that played out in the years and decades leading up to the war, and the event that many point to as the beginning: the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

-Hunt, Lynn. Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures. Boston: Bedford St. Martins, 2019.
-Smith, Bonnie G. Europe in the Contemporary World Since 1900. 2nd ed. London; Bloomsbury, 2020.

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New Thinking on the Origins of World War I

This summer marks the centennial of the outbreak of World War I, perhaps the most transformative war in history. While the wars of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars harnessed national populations to the war effort in a way not previously seen since the emergence of the modern states system, WWI combined the mobilization of both populations and industrial power, enhanced by technology, to produce a most lethal form of warfare. WWI also redrew the map of Europe and created the modern Middle East, as it led to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, thereby unleashing nationalism the disruptive characteristics of which still plague us today. It also paved the way for the great ideological conflicts of the 20th century by unleashing the forces of state-based communism and fascism. To commemorate the outbreak of The Great War, FPRI and ROA will present a workshop offering presentations by three eminent scholars of the war. Michael Neiberg of the US Army War College will discuss the factors that led to the outbreak of the war. John Schindler of the US Naval War College will discuss the often overlooked role of Austria-Hungary in the war and the Eastern and Italian fronts. Kate Epstein of Rutgers University-Camden will discuss the role of pre-war British defense policy in the outbreak of the conflict. Mac Owens, editor of Orbis and professor at the Naval War College, will moderate the panel.

World War One - 1914

Everything you need to know about the first year of World War One in a 12 minute video.
You can watch this video ad-free for just 15 cents at Postd:
Mira este video en español

Recommended books on 1914 & WW1 (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases):
Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace
Max Hastings, Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914
Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
Lyn MacDonald, 1914 : The Days of Hope
Peter Hart, The Great War: 1914-1918
A J P Taylor, The First World War: An Illustrated History
Hew Strachan, The First World War: A New History

'World War One - 1914' is the first in a five-part series covering the Great War. This episode covers the rival alliances that dominated Europe in the build-up to war, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, and the fatal gunshots by Gavrilo Princip at Sarajevo that resulted in the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Imperial rivalries, the system of alliances and deep-seated animosities helped propel Europe into a general war. However Woodrow Wilson, the US President, ensured America stood apart from Europe's conflict. In August 1914, Germany invaded France and Belgium as part of the Schlieffen Plan. The tiny British Expeditionary Force could only hold up the German army for a few hours at the Battle of Mons, but later joined the French in saving Paris at the Battle of the Marne. The 'Race to the Sea' followed, leading to the First Battle of Ypres, as both sides tried to outflank each other to the north. Their failure led to a stalemate, in which the devastating power of machineguns and artillery forced infantry of both sides to take cover in deep trenches.

At sea, Britain's Royal Navy won the war's first naval battle at Heligoland Bight, and imposed a naval blockade on Germany, preventing war supplies (including, controversially, food) from reaching the country by sea. HMS Pathfinder was soon sunk by a German U-boat, revealing the potential of Germany's submarines to overturn Britain's long-held naval dominance.

On the Eastern Front, a Russian invasion of East Prussia ended in disaster at the Battle of Tannenberg, masterminded by German generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff. A second victory at the Battle of Masurian Lakes sent the Russian army into retreat. Austria-Hungary's invasion of Serbia began badly, with defeat at the Battle of Cer. Things went even worse on the Russian front, as Austria's offensive against the Russians leads to heavy losses, and forced Germany to come to the rescue, by launching the Battle of Łódź.

In Africa, British, French and German colonial forces clashed in British East Africa (Kenya), Togoland (Togo), German South-West Africa (Namibia), and German Kamerun (Cameroon). German Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbek had notable success repelling the British at the Battle of Tanga.

In the Pacific, Japan honoured its alliance with Britain and seized the German naval base at Tsingtao in China. Task forces from Australia and New Zealand secured the German colonies of Samoa and New Guinea. German Admiral von Spee's East Asia Squadron won victory at the Battle of Coronel, off Chile, before sailing into catastrophe at the Battle of the Falkland Islands. In the Middle East, British troops occupied Basra, securing access to Persian oil for their fleet.

Winter 1914 saw the French launch their first major offensive to break the trench stalemate of the Western Front. But the First Battle of Champagne led to heavy losses for no real gains. Ottoman operations in the Caucasus Mountains also ended in disaster at the Battle of Sarikamish. The war's first Christmas was marked by games of football in No Man's Land on the Western Front, but early hopes of a short war had now been entirely quashed.

CORRECTION: 7.55 - the map shows Cyprus as part of the Ottoman Empire. Cyprus was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1570 to 1914, but when the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in November 1914, Cyprus was annexed by Britain.


#EpicHistoryTV #WorldWarOne #WW1

Britain Should Not Have Fought in the First World War

Britain Should Not Have Fought in the First World War, Britain Should Not Have Fought in the First World War

Nigel Farage on WW1 & the left's attempt to rewrite history

Nigel Farage gives an exclusive interview on WW1 and its impact today. We talk about the left's attempt to re-write history, mental health, war poetry, and poppies.

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WWI Factions: The British Army

Faction: The British Army

The First World War

At the start of the 20th century the British Army was a small body of volunteer regulars.

The Boer War had provoked British war minister Richard Haldane, to create the (BEF) or the ‘British Expeditionary Force’, in case it was necessary to take part in a foreign war.

British Commonwealth factions

WWI Factions: The Canadian Army

WWI Factions: The Indian army

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Bryan 'Lazlo' Beauregard

Daniel Turner

Daniel turner

Music Credit

Ross Bugden- 'Drive'

‘Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License’.


Pictures: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Blackadder How did World War I Begin

A great stimulus for the History class: causes of WW1.

Sir Edward Grey on entering WW1

Hear a re-enactment of Sir Edward Grey's address on the eve of the First World War, 3rd August 1914, recommending that Britain should enter the war.

Hear a re-enactment of Ramsay Macdonald's oppositition to this position.

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