The Great War was a large military conflict engulfing most of the global powers. It was the deadliest in human history to that point.
The prelude to the conflict is complex and encompasses many smaller conflicts. The rivalries began at various place depending on the nation involved.
The conflict can be traced back to 1855, when the Russian navy forced Japan to open up and signs a treaty in regards to interests in China. Both nations were involved in the alliance in the Boxer Rebellion. Tension were heightened as Russia refused to exit the Liaodong Peninsula due to the building of the Trans Siberian Railway to Port Arthur. Japan relented and offered to recognise Russian interests in Liaodong if Russia recognized Japan's special interests in Korea. Tsar Constantine II agreed to avoid conflict. However, Japan eventually signed an alliance with Britain rather than renew the treaty with Russia.
Russia was split in a conflict against the Conservative branch of the House of Romanov led by Alexander Alexandrovich. The Ukrainian War began in 1882 with the death of Alexander Nikolaevich, the father of the younger Alexander. Alexander negotiated with Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary, being able to convince the latter that the former was the rightful claimant to the Russian throne. Though the war was a stalemate, Tsar Constantine I sued for peace and recognised Ukrainian independence. Russia and Ukraine would continue a military arms race in preparation for a follow up war.
Following the Austro-Prussian War, the German had been split between the influences of Prussia, Bavaria, and Austria. Prussia, having come victorious, formed the North German Confederation in 1866. Bavaria formed the South German Confederation in 1870 following a crisis against Occitania. Following Austria's actions in Ukraine, Prussia convinced Bavaria Austria could not be trusted. The two confederations were joined into the German Empire in 1884.
Holland had been expanding their holdings in southern Africa when gold and diamonds were found. British presence in the area attempted to filibuster the territory to be annexed by Britain later. These British citizens were prosecuted by Dutch forces, causing Britain to demand their return. The South African War began in 1880 and ended in a surprising Dutch victory in 1881. Though Dutch control over their territories held, the British presence in Cape Colony continued to trek north. The Dutch colonial forces persecuted the British population, causing anger in the British Government.
Beginning in 1898, Germany, under Kaiser Wilhelm II, began a naval arms race against Britain. Two two began constructing dreadnaught, which Britain declared for every one the Germans order, they would order two. Holland, having a rivalry with Britain, declared they would join the race as well, adding their fleet to Germany's. The arms race ended in a truce with Britain building a total of 22 dreadnaughts, Germany building 19, and Holland building 7. However, most of the Dutch fleet remained in their territories in Indonesia.
In 1905, Spain's acquisition of Morocco caused outrage in various places, particularly in Germany. Germany began to promise Moroccan independence. However, Germany was outvoted in an international conference, and Spain acquired Morocco. This emboldened a rivalry between Germany and the Iberian Alliance.
With the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary, many of the European powers became outraged and demanded military action. This was adverted by amendments of the Treaty of Berlin, effectively making the situation a fait accompli. However, with the attempted assassination of Archduke Leopold, Austria-Hungary themselves demanded military action. An ultimatum was submitted to Serbia, who declined the Austrians jurisdiction in Serbia. Instead, a conference elected Ukraine to conduct the investigation. In 1915, it was decided that though Serbian officials partook in the attempt, the Serbian government itself was absolved.
The Great War began in earnest at the onset of various smaller conflicts. Russia and Britain began mobilization in Persia due to Russian encroachment on British interests.
British citizens began open revolt against the Dutch colonial governments in South Africa. Portugal mobilizes their African troops against the Dutch.
Japan and Russia began backing opposing factions in China's Warlord period.
The conflict began in earnest when Bulgaria invaded Serbia, backed by Austria-Hungary and Ukraine, for territory lost during the Second Balkan War. Russia declared war on Ukraine and Austria-Hungary, backed by Holland and Germany. Italy, declared war on Austria-Hungary to gain the territory of Venice.
Britain declared war on Holland in South Africa, wherein Portugal also declared war in support of their British allies. Spain and Occitania subsequently also declared war in support of the Iberian Alliance. Germany then declared war on Spain and Occitania after internal deliberation.
Russia declared war on Britain after a skirmish in Persia. Japan declared war on Russia and invaded Manchuria.
Despite being neutral, France became a battleground between the Dutch and Iberian coalition. The battles became grand in scale, with neither side gaining much ground. Holland occupied Paris, and established a forward command. From there, the situation deteriorated into trench warfare.
Russia, facing a three front war, was spread thin logistically. The Chinese front and Pacific Theatre in general became dominated by the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy. Russia established a protectorate over the Khanate of Mongolia, but was unable to press further outside of their occupation of the railway. However, Japan eventually gained control of the rails, isolating the Russian military.
Russia had more luck on the Persian and Afghan fronts. Russia and Britain vied for Afghanistan's support or neutrality, with Britain offering Russian controlled Tajik territory. However, Russia won out with the offer of the Pashtun regions from British India. Persia was offered sovereignty by both sides, and thus ultimately remained neutral at the start of the war. However, after Russia and Britain fell into trench warfare, Persia demanded the expulsion of both militaries. Britain attempted to give Persia an ultimatum, which pushed the latter towards the Russians.
Germany and Russia combined in the Balkans managed to break through the Austrian and Ukrainian borders. While The Russia-Ukraine border remained a stalemate for much of the war, Germany had more success against the Austrians. Austria-Hungary pulled Romania into the conflict in order to bolster their own numbers and to gain Romanian oil reserves.
Italy invaded Austrian Venice, annexing the territory. From there, Italian war aims grew to include the Croatian coastline from Austria. Though Italy invaded Austria, the two armies were clogged up in the mountains.
Holland and Germany successfully invaded British Cape Colony in Africa, with the Dutch government announcing the annexation of the region into their South African holdings. However, Dutch control over Indonesia falters as the Japanese Imperial Navy wins a decisive victory, making landfall near the capital city of Batavia. The Indonesian populace welcomed the Japanese as liberators, and rose up against the Dutch colonisers.
Though officially neutral, the Kingdom of America
hosted the Congress of Columbia
, inviting all of the major powers of North and South America. The purpose of the Conference was to address the situation in Europe and around the world in relation to the Continental Ordinance
. Nations such as Canada
elected to join the war, sending troops to aid Britain. Others, such as Haiti
, wished to join the war against Britain in order to expand their territory into Jamaica. Others still wished to remain neutral, as various other conflicts and crises were occurring.
The German Empire rose victoriously alongside Holland, Russia, and Italy in Europe. The war in the Pacific was still waging as Japan refused the peace deals as they currently hold the advantage against Russia in Manchuria and Holland in Indonesia. Instead, Japan negotiated a treaty with the Kingdom of Hawaii
for an additional naval port in the Pacific in 1919. Britain attempted to continue the blockade in the North Sea while also sending aid to holdouts in Spain and Occitania. Eventually, Britain was forced to come to the negotiating table amid international pressure and German and Dutch support for a free Ireland.
Germany attempted to take Spanish Indochina, but Japan emboldened resistance. The Dutch in Indonesia hold out against the Japanese, though the local populace begins to side against the colonists. Holland cracks down harshly on revolts as they slowly lose control of the situation.
China remained a battleground for a proxy war. Japan backs the Fengtian Clique in Manchuria, Britain backs the Zhili Clique, and Russia backs the right-wing arm of the Kuomintang.
Japan was finally brought to the negotiating table after immense global pressure. Though they did have to return their holding in Indonesia to Holland, the crippling of the Dutch government and military in the area had grown too problemsome.
Tsar Nicholas I
of Ukraine abdicated from popular opinion in favor of his brother, Michael I
. Michael, having no interest in the throne of Ukraine, returned the territory to Russia.
King Louis IV of Holland, though coming out of the war victorious, was forced to abdicate during an uprising from dissent led by supporters of Vladimir Lenin. Holland was declared a republic, with Indonesia and South Africa declaring independence.
Germany sent arms, ammunition, and advisors to the island of Ireland before the armistice was declared. With this equipment. The Irish Nationalists, led by Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, led a pyrrhic victory and established the Republic of Ireland. Pearse and Connolly subsequently became split as far as the form of government to be established, with Connolly advocating for a syndicalist style.
The monarchy of Occitania fell from the loss of the conflict. Socialist uprisings near the capital of Toulouse demanded an exit from the war, and overthrew the government. Similar uprisings occurred in Spain and Portugal, with a civil war breaking out in Spain over differing post war ideologies.
Vladimir Lenin, from his station in Switzerland, led popular uprising in France, establishing a far-left Vanguard party. The French Republic looked to bring the new Occitan republic into their fold as a united Socialist holding.
Germany attempted to maintain friendly relations with Austria-Hungary after the war. Emperor Leopold II
of Austria attempted to enact reforms and created the Hapsburg Confederation
. However, during the reign of Franz Karl
, the Confederation fell apart. The Empire broke up, with the territories being annexed by various nations or joining together to form independent republics.
The Croatian coast went to the German aligned Kingdom of Serbia, much to the chagrin of Italy. Though Italy gained land in Occitania as compensation as well as the territory of Venice, the lack of the Croatian coastline as they believed to be rightfully theirs pushed Italy away from the alliance with Germany, Russia, and Holland.
With the large increase in territories, the victorious governments of Germany and Russia looked at each other with growing suspicion. The new council of Great Powers included Britain, Italy, Germany, and Russia. Though relations remained cordial, none of these powers trusted the others. The immediate mindset of the Great Powers was to contain the spread of Vanguardism in Western Europe.
China was divided up into multiple territories and spheres of influence. Japanese controlled Manchuria was made into the puppet state of Manchukuo, with the deposed Emperor Pui as monarch. The southern territory controlled by the Kuomintang became the Free Republic of China. The Northern Territory controlled by the British backed Zhili Clique became the competing Republic of China. Tibet remained de facto independent, and the muslim majority region of Xinjiang declared the Republic of East Turkestan. Other regions fell to un declared warlords.