To End all Wars.

This year we will be marking the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, the cruel disaster that was supposed to be the ‘war to end all wars’. The trigger that started the war was the assassination at Sarajevo on June 28th 1914 of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by Gavrilo Princip the South Slav Serbian revolutionary.

Before the audience becomes filled to surfeit with articles on the war, its start, its carnage, and its end, I’d like to draw a little attention to the similarity of the situation then and now…the end of the world systems of 1914 due to the war, and hopefully the beginning of the end of the disasters that in 2014 have resulted from uncontrolled and rampant capitalism. The planet we live on is currently expected to be too hot to support life by the end of the century…there may be no one around to mourn the losses of WWI when 2114 rolls around.

I also have a personal interest in marking the anniversary. My paternal grandfather, Samuel Hoare, was gassed in the trenches on the Somme in that war…my mother’s brothers both served in the British Navy in that war. Sam Hoare survived the gassing, but his disablement was such that he was never able to support his family again…Cliff Cook was so disgusted with his experiences in the navy that he foreswore the patriotism that marked British society of that age forever…his brother Len so loved the navy that he stayed in after the war and served at sea until he went down with the minelayer HMS Welshman when it was torpedoed in 1943.

I would also like to note that 1814 was the first year along the road to ending the Napoleonic Wars, when Napoleon made his first abdication as Emperor of the French when a Grand Alliance of all the other powers of Europe invaded France and caused its plea for a truce and a negotiated peace. It was this Peace Conference in Brussels that was interrupted by the return of Napoleon from Elba and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Lately I have been researching these two years and the second abdication of Napoleon after Waterloo for my steampunk/Regency novel “Steam and Strategem” and its sequel “Spies and Subterfuge”, somewhat gentle rearrangements of history of that age, from Tyche Books at Go to my other blog at for updates of these novels.

Before I end this I will give a few pointers to origins of the First World War that might aid your own searches for the historical background. I am using a couple of volumes from the first post-WWII Encyclopedia Britannica to start the search—I don’t know, but suspect the old volumes will have more detail than the current—but the articles on WWI start with a comparison of the technical and human characteristics of the main armies involved, and the relevant period of the articles on Europe give a rundown of the political and social climate of the times.

Since I can see the poor South Slavs and the Serbians will get more than their share of the blame for the disaster this year I will summarise the struggles of those peoples to break free of first the Ottoman Empire and then their struggles against the heavy hand of the Austrian Empire. Under the pages for Serbia, Wikipedia notes the start of the rule of the Ottoman Empire over the Serbs was firstly the loss of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 and then the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The recovery of independence beginning in the wars of 1804 and 1815 against the Turks and gradually evolving into the self governing Principality of Serbia in 1862. The wars against the Turks did not end there but the Austrian Empire also participated in the carve up of the formerly Ottoman Balkans, and the Kingdom of Serbia took shape after the ‘Year of Revolutions’ in 1848. Several Balkan wars in the early 1900s were fought when Bulgaria became the Austrian’s ally—blocking the amalgamation of other South Slav communities from joining Serbia—and leading directly to the assassination of the Archduke by Gavrilo Princip.


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