Was There a Rise of Militarism Before World War One? Defence Spending 1870-1914

Although there weren’t any large-scale European land wars after the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, imperial projects and a competitive mentality spurred a continuous growth of armies and navies. It has been suggested that this 19th century preoccupation with nationalism, imperialism and militarism inculcated a mentality which made World War One possible.

That isn’t the only explanation for these statistics, however. Factors such as population growth should also be taken into account when looking at military growth as not all statistics from the period support the idea of constant military escalation suggested by this chart.

Estimated Defence Expenditure 1817-1914

Alex is a history student at King's College London focusing on Europe and the Near East in the Middle Ages. He currently works writing and editing content for madefromhistory.