These colonies funded a great part of the ruling countries' economies and provided foreign markets for European products, and expansion became necessary and desirable to advance the glory and the wealth of each European power. However, the land available diminished as Germany, France, England, Italy, and Belgium occupied increasingly large tracts of land. Border disputes would break out often between colonists of different nationalities. One primary example would be the Boer War in South Africa, between the Dutch and the English. Furthermore, in the Middle East, the crumbling Ottoman Empire was alluring Austria-Hungary, the Balkans, and Russia. An arms race increased the hostile feelings among the European nations. Acknowledging that Germany was the leader in military organization and efficiency, the other great powers of Europe copied the universal conscription, large reserves, and detailed planning of the Prussian system.
Technological and organizational developments led to the formation of general staff with precise plans for mobilization and attack that often could not be reversed once they were begun. The German von Schlieffen Plan, to attack France before Russia in the event of war with Russia, was one such complicated plan that drew more countries into war than necessary. Armies and navies were greatly expanded during this time period.
The standing armies of France and Germany doubled in size between 1870 and 1914. Naval expansion was also extremely competitive, particularly between Germany and Great Britain. By 1889, the British had established the principle that in order to maintain naval superiority in the event of war, they would have to have a navy two and a half times as large as the second-largest navy. It was clear that Europe was losing its strategical and operational effectiveness.
The Russo-Japanese War demonstrated how effective these battleships were. As Britain increased their output of battleships, Germany correspondingly stepped up their naval production, including the Dreadnought. Although efforts for worldwide disarmament were made at the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907, international rivalry caused the arms race to continue to feed on itself. Tangling alliances also developed whose purpose, ironically, lay in preventing the outbreak of war for conquest. German official Otto von Bismarck took advantage of Italian resentment towards France and created the Triple Alliance between Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary in 1882. In exchange for Italy's agreement to stay neutral if war broke out between Austria-Hungary and Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary would protect Italy from France. However, after Bismarck was fired by Kaiser William II in 1890, the dislike of Slavs kept Bismarck's successors from renewing their understanding with Russia.
France took advantage of this opportunity to get an ally, and the Franco- Russian alliance was formed in 1891, which became a formal alliance in 1894. The Kruger telegram William II sent to congratulate the leader of the Archer 3 Boers for defeating the British in 1896. As a result, Britain and France overlooked all major imperialistic conflict between them and formed the “Entente Cordiale” in 1904. Looking back at the settlement of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the principle of nationalism was ignored in favor of preserving the peace. Germany and Italy were left as divided states, but strong nationalist movements and revolutions led to the unification of Italy in 1861 and that of Germany in 1871. Another result of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 was that France was left with the loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany. In conclusion, the “Napoleonic Wars” were a series of conflicts declared against Napoleon's French Empire and the rapidly changing sets of European allies by opposing coalitions that ran them from 1803 to 1815.
These wars were a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionized European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale. These “revolutionary” reforms of the French army led to combined arms division, the modern mass conscript army as a result of Jordan Law and Napoleon's introduction of the "corps d'armee” concept. It is evident during this time period that French power rose quickly, conquering most of Europe, but collapsed rapidly after France's disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. Napoleon's empire ultimately suffered complete military defeat resulting in the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in France. The wars resulted in the dissolution of the Roman Empire and sowed the seeds of nationalism in Germany and Italy that would lead to the two nations' consolidation later Archer 5 in the century. As a direct result of the Napoleonic wars the British Empire became the foremost world power for the next century.
Robert Citino.Quest for Decisive Victory: From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899-1940 (University Press of Kansas, 2002).
Gray, Colin S. Strategy for Chaos: Revolution Military Affairs (Frank Cass, 2003).
MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray. The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050 (Cambridge University Pres, 2001).