World War 1 Alliances Facts

President Wilson with King George V and Princess Mary of England
President Wilson with King George V and Princess Mary of England

Introduction - WW1 Alliances

By 1914 Europe had become a ticking bomb waiting for a spark to ignite it. A series of alliances had been made between the major European powers that would end up being one of the major causes of World War 1. These alliances were promises that if one member of the alliance were attacked the other members would come to its aide. This meant what might have been a relatively minor war between two countries would instead pull in all the major European powers and result in a world war. In fact these alliances did result in World War 1 when the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28, 1914 set off a series of events that would result in the beginning of WWI. On this page we list facts about these World War 1 alliances; with information on what countries had alliances, why these specific alliances were entered into, and how they were a major cause of WW1. As always written so that both kids and adults can understand.

Click here for a great selection of books about the causes of World War One.

It should be noted that the United States was not part of any alliance system. When World War One began the U.S. remained neutral. In 1917 the U.S. joined the war on the side of France, Great Britain, and Russia. The U.S. never officially joined the allied alliance, but rather is referred to as an "associated power" to the allies.

List of World War 1 Alliances

The Triple Entente

The Triple Entente alliance formed by France, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Empire was not itself an official alliance but rather a complex series of treaties and agreements that in effect formed a triple alliance. This alliance was formed by these three European super powers out of fear of Germany's growing military strength. This alliance gets its name from the French word "entente" which means and understanding or agreement. The alliances forming the Triple Entente included; the Entente Cordiale (1904) between France and Britain, the Anglo-Russian Entente (1907) between Britain and Russia, and the Franco-Russian Alliance (1894) between France and Russia. Other countries siding with the Triple Entente (also called the Allied Powers) were the United States, Serbia, Japan, Belgium, Greece, Romania, and Montenegro.

The Triple Alliance

This alliance was an agreement between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy (also referred to as the Central Powers). However at the outbreak of the war Italy would at first remain neutral and later end up joining the Triple Entente. This treaty basically stated that Germany and Austria-Hungary would defend Italy if Italy was attacked by France; assuming Italy did not provoke France. If Germany was attacked by France Italy would offer Germany assistance. The alliance also stipulated that Italy would remain neutral if war broke out between Austria-Hungary and Russia. The so-called Central Powers would eventually also include Bulgaria and Turkey.


Although World War 1 Alliances are usually listed as one of the major causes of World War 1 there are some historians who down play its role as a major cause. They believe that even though these alliances were in place war could have been averted if the European leaders had been more willing to work out peaceful solutions. This unwillingness to work for peace resulted in destruction on a scale that none of these leaders could have imagined prior to the outbreak of the war.