The First World War...or Was It?

Feb 2019
307
Serbia
#1
Whenever someone mentions the title ''First World War'' we think of the conflict between 1914 and 1918, however many earlier historical conflicts could count as world wars.

The War of the Spanish Succession included almost every great power of Europe and these powers had territory on almost every continent, the main battles were in Europe with other theatres in North America and India and naval battles all over the world.

The War of the Austrian Succession follows the same principle with an even greater territorial extent.

The 7 Years' War was again fought all over the world. On every continent except for Antarctica and Australia and is indisputably a global conflict.

The Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolutionary Wars, in one way or another reached almost every part of the globe with battles on land and sea in the Atlantic, the Americas, India and the Indian Ocean, North, South and West Africa, The Middle East, The East Indies and in some form even other parts of Asia.

There have been 4 global wars before the First World War, why was the First World War named as such (The Great War was also a name for the Napoleonic Wars before 1914.) and what fulfills the definition of a World War.
 
Oct 2011
115
Croatia
#2
I'm not sure, but I think there is believed to be a distinction between a world-spanning conflict - where conflict is fought across the globe - and world war - where you have nations from all over the globe fighting it. So depending on definition, wars you have listed would not count because they were - despite their global nature - still fundamentally conflicts between European powers. Meanwhile in WWI you had Japan and USA siding with Entente, and in WWII you had US, Australia, Canada, China with Allies and Japan with the Axis.
 
Mar 2019
519
Kansas
#3
There have been 4 global wars before the First World War, why was the First World War named as such (The Great War was also a name for the Napoleonic Wars before 1914.) and what fulfills the definition of a World War.
I think the main distinction is the fact this was total war. The entire industrial capacity of a nation was used to arm, train and fight the war.
 
Jan 2015
2,861
MD, USA
#5
When WWI broke out, all previous wars already had names, accurate or not. And it was not called "World War One" or "The First World War", it was simply The War, the European War, or even the Great War. It wasn't until WWII that someone decided to start numbering them. Kinda lacks imagination, yes, but there you go.

You weren't hoping we'd up and rename a few, were you?

Matthew
 
Mar 2019
519
Kansas
#6
When WWI broke out, all previous wars already had names, accurate or not. And it was not called "World War One" or "The First World War", it was simply The War, the European War, or even the Great War. It wasn't until WWII that someone decided to start numbering them. Kinda lacks imagination, yes, but there you go.

You weren't hoping we'd up and rename a few, were you?

Matthew
Bit like the first Gulf War and the second Gulf war. Gulf War was originally given to the punch up between Iran and Iraq

**scratches head** all very confusing really lol
 
Feb 2011
1,005
Scotland
#7
Churchill referred to the Seven Years War as the 'First World War'. Which would make the First, The Second. But Churchill wrote his history of the Second World War and it was 1939-45!
 
May 2011
13,786
Navan, Ireland
#8
As the Industrial revolution started to come into play and Globalisation started to enter its modern phase then wars between the great powers started to become 'World Wars' as they had the technology to move ,and fight each other, across the Globe.

So no WWI wasn't the first 'World War' as such but it was the first 'Great War' bigger and more all consuming than ever before, matched only by the 'Second Great War'.
 
Likes: Matthew Amt
Jun 2015
5,628
UK
#9
Ithink it was in thee sense that most resources around the world were fully utilised. And it occurred amongst powers that weren't just European.

In WWI, given the global scope of the European empires, then there was no part of the world potentially left untouched. Resources and troops came from all over the British and French empires, and in the Seven Years War it didn't directly impact on internal parts of Africa, or in China. A person living British Kenya could have been drafted into the British Army to fight in Burma, or a Senegalese in the French Army.

Though I'd argue that the first war with a truly global scope in terms of battles or campaigns were the 16th century conflicts between Spain, Portugal, England, and France.
 
Likes: LatinoEuropa