Detailed Timeline of
Build-Up to World War I (1816
Austria Gains Serbia (1817): An uprising liberates Serbs from the Ottoman Empire in 1817, freeing most of Serbia, except Belgrade. It then became a principality within the Austrian Empire.
Canada (1818): UK and USA agree to split NW USA along the 49th parallel, creating the modern USA/Canada border.
Greek War of Independence - Greece Gains Independence from Ottoman Empire (1821-29): Greek Orthodox Bishop proclaims Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. Revolts are organized with the help of western powers. Independence was ceded by the Ottomans in 1829.
(Timeline Continued Below)
Brazil Wins Independence from Portugal (1822): After Portuguese government returns to Portugal, Brazil claims independence. After some fighting, Portugal cedes in 1825.
Spanish Empire Loses American Mainland Possessions (by 1825): In 1820, Spain cedes Florida to the USA, in exchange for recognition of Spanish possession of the southwest section of modern USA, which it would lose to Mexico at the end of the Mexican War of Independence just a year later, in 1821. The remainder of its Central and South American colonies team up to gain independence from Spain by 1825, forever ending Spain's presence on the American mainland.
Break Up of The United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1830): Unsatisfied with Dutch rule, Belgium declares independence from the Netherlands in 1830. The Belgian War of Independence ends in their favor in 1839. Luxembourg also gains independence by extension. The French speaking portion of Luxembourg would join the Belgian revolution, being annexed into Belgium upon gaining independence, causing Luxembourg to lose more than half its territory.
France Invades Its Colony of Algeria (1830): France invades rebellious North African colony in part to distract from political scandal and turbulence at home.
Russia crushes Polish independence movement (1830).
Failed Italian Revolutions (1830-48): Italian revolutionary movements crushed by Austrian army.
Civil War in Spain (1833–39): a.k.a. The First Carlist War in Spain. Liberals win, undermining strength of the elite and the Catholic Church. Results in the end of the Spanish Inquisition, where the Spanish monarchy forced Catholism on all of its constituents, through the threat of death, torture or exile. Rule after the civil war would remain instable.
Slavery Abolished in British Empire (1834): UK illegalizes the slave trade throughout its empire, bringing its dominance of the sugar cane industry (by its Caribbean colonies) to an end.
Abolition of Slavery in Spanish Empire (1835): Spain illegalizes the slave trade in all its colonies.
First Anglo-Afghan War (1839): By now, the UK is completely in control of India after series of wars, and looking to extend control northward into Afghanistan. The Opium Wars against China also begin, where the UK forcibly prevents the Chinese from illegalizing or otherwise inhibiting the opium trade into their lands.
Great Irish Famine (1845): Approximately one million died, and another one million emigrated out of Ireland, many to the USA. Resulted in a population decline of 20-25%, which would permanently affect Ireland demographics. Worsened by UK policy to still permit exports of food, while not subsidizing foods to enable the poor to afford to feed themselves.
Slavery Abolished in French Empire (1848): France abolishes slavery in its empire. Overthrows monarch, resulting in short-lived republic, before a new monarchy was reinstalled in 1852.
Netherlands Constitutional Monarchy (1848): Netherlands introduces parliament and reduces monarchist powers to become more democratic.
Crimean War: Coalition vs Russia (1853–56): France, UK and Ottomans declare war on Russia, over controversy concerning protectorate of Christians in Ottoman Empire. France and Russia both claimed to be the protectors of Christians in the Holy Land, with France asserting Roman Catholic authority, and Russia asserting Eastern Orthodoxy authority. Russia temporarily lost naval bases in Black Sea upon its defeat, which were returned shortly thereafter.
Indian Rebellion Against United Kingdom Rule (1857): A massive uprising forces the UK to reform its rule in India. Resulted in the end of the British East India Company, transferring governence to the British government. Serves as the first step toward Indian independence (achieved in 1947), as the British and Indians developed a distrust for one another.
Romania Formed (1859): Moldavia and Wallachia combine to form Romania, while remaining a client to the Ottoman Empire.
French Assistance in Italian Independence and Territorial Gain (1859): France comes to the aid of the Italian revolutionaries. France's support helps the Italians defeat the Austrians in gaining independence. In return, Italy cedes Savoy and Nice to France, finalizing the SE corner of France's modern borders.
Kingdom of Sardinia - Home Base for Italian Revolution (1859): As only sovereign Italian state before unification, served as HQ for initial independent government.
Northern Italy conquered by Italian revolutionaries from Austria (1860).
Southern Italy conquered by Italian revolutionaries from Spain (1860).
Independence of Italy (1860): In Italian Wars of Independence, the Italians drive Austria (North) and Spain (South) out of Italy for good, leading to an independent Italy. Italian Nationalism had been on the rise since the end of the Napoleonic Wars, as they were weary of being subdivided under foreign rule. After initial defeats, the Revolutionary movement finally achieved its purpose with the support of France. The region of Savoy and Nice along the westernmost borders of Italy was ceded to France in exchange for their aid.
Note: Italian Nationalism. Italians were tired of serving as the battleground and pawns for continental powers. Instead, they saw the virtue in unifying for peace, security, prosperity, and leverage, as they took notice of other powers rising as result of unification. This nationalism led to revolutionary movements, and eventual independence. Since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, Italy had been continally fragmented under multiple foreign masters. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, it became evident that their foreign rulers could not adequately protect them. Italians also took notice that foreign masters managed to keep Italy in a regressive condition, as they were often of only secondary importance to them, causing Italy to become less developed than neighboring nations.
Abolishment of Serfdom in Russia (1861): Russia emancipates serfs within its borders. A large workforce is now available to the cities, since the nation's majority are no longer enslaved to farmlands. Manufacturing productivity is increased as a result. Terms of emancipation highly unfavorable to serfs though, resulting in widespread and severe poverty. This leads to the eventual socialist revolution in 1917, as workers revolt against the oppressive economic system.
Another Polish Revolt Crushed by Russia (1864): When Russia abolishes serfdom in Poland in 1864, another revolt rises up, again crushed by Russia. Poland placed under direct rule, instead of semi-autonomous rule. Russia unsuccessfully attempts to bring Polish language and culture to extinction.
Germany Gains Territory in Schleswig War w/Denmark (1864): Both the Danes and the German Confederation had a claim to the Schleswig and Holstein territories between them. Denmark annexed both regions, but with the formation of German Confederation, and the heightened sense of Germanic nationalism, this was found to be unacceptable. This prompted a German Confederation invasion in 1864. Prussian- and Austrian-led forces easily overwhelmed the Danes, conquering all of Schleswig and Holstein, ending the War of Schleswig with this new territory joined to the German Confederation.
Austro-Prussian War Won by Prussia (1866): A result of the rivalry between Prussia and Austria to become the dominant German state within the German Confederation. Tensions finally led to a brief war won by Prussia. Prussia was now the dominant force among the German states, forming a new North German Confederation without Austria. Austria was now on its own, politically isolated from its fellow German states.
Venice Conquered by Italy from Austria during Austro-Prussian War (1866): Italy collaborates with Prussia, providing two-front war for Austria in exchange for Venice and surrounding areas still possessed by Austria at the time.
Formation of Austria-Hungary Empire (1867): After its defeat to the Prussians in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Austria - in its weakened condition - was forced to cede to the demands of the Hungary portion of its empire, and provide Hungary with equal status. Hungarian nationalism had been on the rise since the Napoleonic Wars, leading to protests. Austria compromised by establishing a dual monarchy, rather than risk a Hungarian war of independence which it was not prepared to wage in its weakened state.Papal States (1870): Italian army marches on Rome, to add it to the unified Italy. The Popes had continued to hold out, opposed to the idea of a unified Italy, especially since it would lead to the end of their rule of Rome. Rome was taken after a brief skirmish.
Papal States Conquered and Added to Italy (1870): Italian army marches on Rome, to add it to the unified Italy. The Popes had continued to hold out, opposed to the idea of a unified Italy, especially since it would lead to the end of their rule of Rome. Rome was taken after a brief skirmish.
France Loses Territory to Prussia in Franco-Prussian War (1870): Tensions between the two continental powers culminate in an armed conflict. Several German states from the North German Confederation would join the Prussians, helping to unite the German states into the German Empire in 1871. The Prussian/German forces were superior, and they were able to take the territory of Alsace-Lorraine away from the French during the brief war. Beginning of an era of an ongoing France/German rivalry that would end after WWII, as both sides would vie for territory along their shared border.
German Empire Established (1871): A new, unified German state dominated by Prussia, incorporating all German states except Austria into a single state. In the past, the German states had always been a loose affiliation of a multitude of duchies, principalities and counties. The German Empire represented the first true German state, where Germans were consolidated under centralized rule.
Further Understanding: German Nationalism
After a series of wars on the German homeland during the 1700s and 1800s, the Germans saw virtue in unifying for increased peace and security, as opposed to being a battleground for continental wars. They also observed other powers rising as result of unification, leading to increased prosperity as well. Since ancient times, German people had maintained a sense of common identity through their shared culture and language, being affiliated under the Holy Roman Empire for centuries. But the Empire had never unified all the German states under a centralized rule. German dukes, princes and counts had always desired to retain individual power and sovereignty. However, this fragmentation placed the German people at a military and commercial disadvantage to unified powers such as France and England. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, nationalism ran high throughout Europe, as nations desired greater economic and geopolitical leverage, while protecting themselves against other rising powers. Therefore, it made sense for Germany to consolidate into a unified German Empire.
(Timeline Continued Below)
Jews in Germany (1871): Jews in Germany are given equal rights, although still persecuted quite heavily.
Jews in Russia (1871): Russia is the only European nation to have restrictive laws against the Jews. Russia's legacy of Anti-Semitism would later be condemned by the communist government. In 1882, many of the Jews in Russia begin migrating to Palestine, due to heavy prosecution, foreshadowing the modern state of Israel.
Ottoman Empire Defeated in Russo-Turkish War (1878): The Ottoman Empire is defeated In the final of a series of wars with Russia over mutual expansionist ambitions. Russian captures the Khanates of Kokand, Bokhara and Khiva, expanding further into Central Asia. Russia seeks to take the place of the Ottomans in the Balkan region, bringing Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria under its control. However, the UK prevents this through a show of force, intending to maintain the balance of power by prohibiting Russia from growing any more powerful. As a result, most of the Balkan nations gain independence.
Austria Gains Bosnia from Ottoman Empire (1878): Austria-Hungary takes Bosnia and Herzegovina from a faltering Ottoman Empire. Most of the Bosnians are Muslim, and prefer Ottoman rule. Against the wishes of the Bosnians, Austria officially annexed Bosnia in 1908. This increased hostilities, culminating with the assassination of the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne while he was visiting Bosnia in 1914, which helped to trigger WWI.
Montenegro Gains Independence from Ottoman Empire (1878): Gains independence along with most other Balkan nations after the Ottoman Empire is weakened from defeat to Russia.
Bulgaria Gains Independence from Ottoman Empire (1878): Bulgaria also gains independence upon the Ottoman's defeat in the Russo-Turkish War. Absorbs Macedonia and the northern Greek lands.
Macedonia Annexed by Bulgaria (1878): Bulgaria and Macedonia successfully revolt from Ottoman Empire, with Macedonia being absorbed by Bulgaria.
Albania Elects to Remain Part of Ottoman Empire (1878): When most of the Balkan nations gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, Albania, as a primarily Muslim nation, feared persecution from neighboring Christian nations. They appealed to the Ottoman Empire for military protection, in exchange for remaining a semi-autonomous region within the empire.
Note: Russo-Turkish War Effect on the Balkans. The Ottoman Empire is defeated In the final of a series of wars with Russia over mutual expansionist ambitions. The devastating defeat further weakened the Ottomans, and their ability to maintain their longstanding hold onto the Balkans. Upon their defeat in 1878, all Balkan nations were freed of Ottoman rule, with the exception of Albania, which voluntarily remained under Ottoman dominion due to the Muslim connection. Russia sought to take the place of the Ottomans in the region, bringing it under their control. However, the UK prevented this through a show of force, intending to strike a balance of power by prohibiting Russia from growing any more powerful.
Romania Gains Independence from Ottoman Empire (1881): With weakening of Ottoman Empire, Romania asserted independence in 1881, forming the Kingdom of Romania.
Greece Gains Thessaly from Ottoman Empire (1881): A weakened Ottoman Empire ceded Thessaly to Greece after its defeat to the Russians in the Russo-Turkish War.
Serbia gained independence from the Austrian Empire (1882).
United Kingdom Seizes Control of Suez Canal in Egypt (1882): UK assumes control over Egypt, since it had become turbulent, and UK sought to protect its Suez Canal investment (which opened in 1869 as a joint venture). The Suez Canal was very important in administering to its Asian and African possessions.
Scramble for Africa: Post-Slavery
Exploitation of Africa.
Greece Gains Crete from Ottoman Empire (1898): The Ottomans are finally driven from the island of Crete, after years of insurrections following the independence of Greece from the Ottoman Empire.
Spanish-American War (1898): U.S. captured Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines from Spain in this brief war, ending the longstanding Spanish possessions in America and the Pacific. Anti-Spanish and expansionist sentiment in the U.S. led to war, and a quick U.S. victory.
Russian Defeat in Russo-Japanese War (1905): Russia lost this war to Japan, diminishing its strength greatly, especially in the eastern portion of its empire. Russian naval capacity was virtually extinguished. The defeat comes as great shock to entire world, as it is first time that an Asian power defeats an established European power in the modern era. Russia's poor performance in this war led to the Russian Revolution of 1905. Tsar Nicholas II is consequently pressured into establishing a representative parliament (Duma), but at the last moment, he ensured himself autocratic/veto powers over Duma, making it ineffectual in ensuring rights of general public.
Norway Independence from Sweden (1905): After the Napoleonic Wars (1815), Norway was joined with Sweden, ruled by the Swedish monarch. In 1905, the Personal Union between Sweden and Norway was peacefully dissolved, after Norwegian dissatisfaction with the union came to a boiling point. Instead of engaging in a war to maintain Norway, Sweden accommodated its desire for independence.
Portuguese Civil War (1910): Portuguese revolutionaries overthrow monarch, leading to civil strife for the next 16 years as they attempt to install a democratic, republican government. The inability to create a stable government would eventually lead to a dictatorship.
Italy Conquers Libya (1912): Italy conquered Libya from Ottoman Empire (Italo-Turkish War), as it was looking for opportunities to establish a colonial empire like other European powers, hoping to recreate Italian-based Roman Empire. First use of an airplane as a weapon in warfare, as Italy drops bombs on Turkish forces.
First Balkan War - Ottoman Empire Loses More Territory (1912-13): The Slavic Balkan nations, aware of the weakened condition of the Ottoman Empire, initiate war to gain more Balkan lands from the Ottomans. The Balkan League (Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria) quickly achieved victory. The Ottoman Empire was driven completely out of Europe. But they could not agree on how to allocate the spoils of victory among themselves (especially Macedonia), leading to the Second Balkan War.
Albania Becomes Independent from Ottoman Empire (1912): When the Ottomans were further weakened due to their defeat in the Balkan Wars in 1912, Albania declared independence
Second Balkan War - Bulgaria Loses More Territory (1913): Bulgaria was least satisfied with its gains from the First Balkan War, as it faced the greatest loss and sacrifice, since it was closest in proximity to the Ottoman Empire. However, Bulgaria was also the most weakened, and the other nations in the Balkan League were not willing to cede to its demands, sparking the second war. Bulgaria was pitted against Serbia, Greece and Montenegro, with Romania and the Ottoman Empire also joining against Bulgaria after the start of the war. Fighting on all fronts, Bulgaria was soon forced to sue for peace, retaining some of its gains from the First War, but losing its SE corner back to the Ottomans. Romania recaptured some territory along its border with Bulgaria lost during the first war. Serbia gained most of the hotly-disputed Macedonia region, and Greece took a large part of Bulgaria's SW region.
Macedonia Taken by Serbia from Bulgaria (1913): Disputed between Serbia and Bulgaria after the First Balkan War, taken by Serbia in the Second Balkan War.
Romania Regains Border Lands from Bulgaria (1913): Bulgaria takes land from Romania along shared border in First War, but taken back by Romania in Second War.
Ottoman Regains Europe-Side Territory from Bulgaria (1913): Ottoman's last holdings on the European continent, a small amount of territory located on the European side of the Turkish Straits, is taken by Bulgaria in First War, but regained by the Ottomans in the Second War.
Greece Gains Territory from Bulgaria (1913): A large swath of land comprising modern northern Greence was disputed between Greece and Bulgaria after the First War, and taken by Greece in the Second War.
Note: Balkan Wars - Predecessor to WWI. The Balkan Wars set the stage for WWI, which would commence one year later. Austria-Hungary was alarmed by an assertive Serbia, which was now an ally with their enemy Russia. The Ottoman Empire would also be prepared to mobilize in cooperation with Germany and Austria-Hungary, in hopes of regaining its lost territory in the Balkans. This would also lead Bulgaria to join the Ottomans, as distasteful as it was, in order to also regain lost territories from its Balkan neighbors.
A great article and something I want to keep and refer back to. Very interesting and easy to understand for someone like me who hated history lessons at school.
#1 - Niki - 03/24/2011 - 21:39
Romania gained completely independence, because it was NEVER under the Ottoman rule, in 1877! In 1881 it was declared a kingdom.
#2 - reader - 08/22/2012 - 00:02
This stuff is helpful
#3 - Taylor - 08/28/2012 - 13:55
"Romania Regains Border Lands from Bulgaria (1913): Bulgaria takes land from Romania along shared border in First War, but taken back by Romania in Second War."
Second sentence needs to be changed, as the opposite is correct, as Romania lost the Quadrilater in 1940.
#4 - Dan - 07/23/2013 - 21:32
This is true
#5 - Young AB - 11/20/2013 - 20:40
this was no effing help! you suck!
#6 - hannah - 12/12/2013 - 08:48
too much reading make shorter more pictures for me to read don\'t understand big words. NO HELP
#7 - jacker - 01/09/2014 - 14:50
To much fucking info and its not fucking true because I know....... well anyways fix it pronto!!!!!!!!!! bye
#8 - Hello Kitty - 01/09/2014 - 14:55
To much fucking info and its not fucking true because I know....... well anyways fix it pronto!!!!!!!!!! bye I was there when it happened........
#9 - Hello Kitty - 01/09/2014 - 14:57
#10 - hbf - 02/09/2014 - 09:56
#11 - bobby - 02/09/2014 - 09:58
#12 - slung low - 02/24/2014 - 13:34
This did not answer my question. :(
#13 - Jah'Nike - 03/27/2014 - 14:52