Short war, long war, catastrophic war: visions of warfare before 1914’

When:5 Apr 2016, 12:25pm - 1:45pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Dr William Mulligan (University College Dublin)
William Mulligan

History Seminar Series

The History discipline (School of Humanities & Languages) invites you to attend a public seminar

‘Short war, long war, catastrophic war: visions of warfare before 1914’

Dr William Mulligan, University College Dublin

Expectations of future warfare amongst political and diplomatic elites before 1914 centred not on the duration of the war, but on its likely political, social, economic, and humanitarian consequences. For the most part, political leaders viewed a general European war as a catastrophe. This article examines what leaders meant when they spoke in catastrophic terms about future war. Revolution, economic dislocation, social unrest, and mass death were a prominent part of their vision of future warfare. Their visions was shaped by observing the repercussions of wars between the 1870s and 1914, by increasing interdependence of European economies, and by changes in the size of armies and technology. The shared understanding of a catastrophic European war served to preserve the peace between the great powers after 1871. Yet political elites, particularly in Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Germany, harboured other visions of catastrophe, which played a powerful role in adjusting their views on the costs of war during the July crisis.

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