Primary Documents - Pre-1914

Treaty of London, 1839, signed by British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston This page of the Primary Documents section of the website collects together archive source documents originating in the years preceding the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 - in some cases many years before.

Included among the pre-1914 documents is the 1839 Treaty of London, which bound Britain to defend neutral Belgium, with momentous consequences some 75 years later; and the text of the 1904 Entente Cordiale which saw Anglo-French relations improve to the point that a military alliance in the event of war against either at the hands of Germany became feasible.

The list presented below - with each entry accompanied by a brief summary of its significance -  is sorted by date, with earlier documents listed first.

Document Description
ArticleTreaty of London 1839 1839 - Britain guaranteed Belgian neutrality
ArticleEms Telegram 1870 - Bismarck's attempt to provoke France into war
ArticleDual Alliance 1879 - Germany's alliance with Austria-Hungary
ArticleThree Emperor's League 1881 - Russia's alliance with Germany/Austria-Hungary
ArticleTriple Alliance 1882 - Italy joined Germany and Austria-Hungary's alliance
ArticleReinsurance Treaty 1887 - Bismarck's alliance with Russia
ArticleFrance-Russian Military Convention 1892 - French/Russian precursor to Triple Entente alliance
ArticleAnglo-Japanese Alliance 1902 - Intended as counterweight to France and Russia
ArticleEntente Cordiale 1904 - Anglo-French diplomatic agreement
ArticleAnglo-Russian Entente 1908 - Russia joins the Anglo-French Entente agreement
ArticleYoung Turk Proclamation 1908 - Issued by Young Turk administration in 1908
ArticlePresident Wilson's Inauguration Address 1913 - Address given by Wilson at start of his first term
ArticleCrown Prince Wilhelm on Upcoming War 1913 - Germany heir to the throne's enthusiasm for war

A 'flying pig' was a mortar bomb.

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Primary Docs