In 1914 the world was a very different place than it is today. A lot of nations in the world were still trying to claim other parts of the world as their own, and in Europe there had been a long period of fighting between countries who all wanted to own either parts of each other, or smaller countries which they could easily take over.
To protect themselves, a lot of these nations started to make agreements to look after each other in case other groups of nations attacked them. One of these agreements was between France, Belgium and Great Britain (and several others) who agreed to stand together if a bigger war ever started.
Other nations such as Austria-Hungary and Germany had also grouped together to form similar agreements and these agreements, together with a lot of what is often termed ‘sabre-rattling’ (when nations make a lot of angry talk and threats to one another) meant there was a lot of tension in Europe.
This reached a dramatic conclusion on 28th June 1914 when a group of young Yugoslavian men attempted to assassinate the Austria-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, because their country Serbia was being occupied by Austria-Hungary. After throwing a grenade at his car in a first failed attempt to kill him, a man called Gavrilo Princip finally succeeded in killing both him and his wife Sophie with a small pistol, before he was wrestled to the ground and captured.
The effect of this was catastrophic and led to the start of the First World War, when the agreements made by all the nations came into effect and they started to help one another to protect each other against the opposing side.
On one side was the ‘Allies’, including, France, Belgium, Great Britain and Serbia (among many others) and on the other side were the ‘Central Powers’ of Germany, The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and Austra-Hungary (among others).
Sadly, the stage was now set for what people were later to call ‘The Great War’.