The First World War...or Was It?

Oct 2013
14,533
Europix
#31
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.
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'.
In the French speaking area, the WWI is often referred even today as "La grande guerre" (the Great war).
 
Feb 2019
345
California
#32
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.

Good question. I think the Seven Years War has a serious claim to the title.
 
Feb 2019
345
California
#34
I think there's a big difference between this:



And this:



And, for what it's worth, only about 1.5 million people died during the the Seven Years' War, whereas over ten times that number died during World War I.

Well, as always it comes down to who gets to define the terms. I note for your edification that not every single country in the world was involved in WWI or even in WWII, for that matter. Therefore, the criteria must be a bit different than what you seem to believe. But of course, in the end it is all a matter of semantics.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,811
Sydney
#35
It seems that the Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Sakaki was torpedoed by an Austrian submarine U-27 on 11 June 1917 off Crete ,
this caused the loss of 68 of her 92 crewmen. She was salvaged and repaired

for a japanese warship to be engaged by the Austrian navy , would indicate a "world war "
 
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Likes: Kotromanic
Oct 2015
365
Belfast
#36
If you look on the reverse side of any British WW1 campaign medal, you'll see the words "The Great War for Civilization". That's an oxymoron if ever there was one. Apart from that, the Battle of the Somme was original called the Battle of the River Ancre.
 
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martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,632
Spain
#37
Most of battles in 1914 - 1918 were played in Europe.... whilst in 18th Century wars (1700 - 1815) was played in each continent. For example, 99,90% german casuaties took place in Europe...and 95% Russian Casualties, 99,9999% Austro-hungarian casualties, 99% French Casualties, 99% Italian casualties, 99% belgian casualties, 79% British casualties... etc etc

It was an European War, contested by European Powers, with European goals...each war between Spain, Britain, France, Portugal and Netherland that broke out between 1560 to 1815... had more non-european importance that 1014 - 1918. I think.
 
Oct 2011
341
Croatia
#38
Maybe... but take a look at what you wrote: all combatants, primary combatants at least, were from Europe. In WWI and WWII you had some important powers outside Europe (US, Japan, British dominions), whereas in those wars only some Native tribes were outside Europe. So question is essentially "who matters".
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,811
Sydney
#39
Soldiers came from North and central Africa , Pakistan , Australia , Canada , The Kamchatka peninsula , California , ....
for each of those places the casualties were in the hundreds
( maybe less for the Cossack couple of stonia from Kamchatka )
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,632
Spain
#40
Maybe... but take a look at what you wrote: all combatants, primary combatants at least, were from Europe. In WWI and WWII you had some important powers outside Europe (US, Japan, British dominions), whereas in those wars only some Native tribes were outside Europe. So question is essentially "who matters".

Well... sincerely... Japan rol was very minor (Tsing-Tao, Mediterranean Fleet... few old cruisers and destroyers and Pacific and Indian convoy escort missions)... the same about USA (from a military point of view). British Dominions played a great rol (specially Australia-Canada-India-New Zealand) as Colonial French Troops... but military operations in Far East (Tsingtao-Rabaul) or in America (Coronel, Falklands) were not compared to the actions played in 16th-1815 wars.
I agree with you about numbers... but actions in America or in North Africa or in Far East were very minor in 1914-1918 and greater in old wars... not Expedition to Egypt in 1914 or Cartagena de Indias in 1915 or nothing similar to the campaigns in India between Portuguese and Dutch or between British and French.
The reason is Germany had a very reduced and modern Seaborne Empire.. and Austria - Hungary never wanted to have colonies... so, the war was European matter, I think.