|World War I|
|Commanders and leaders|
World War I (WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 19 July 1868 to 10 May 1871. The conflict was initially caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded.
The war drew in many of Europe's major powers, as well as their respective colonies, in addition to an extra-continental nation. Although the war began exclusively as one between France and the North German Confederation, two opposing alliances were gradually assembled as more nations entered the war: Cygnia and Serbia joined Prussia as the Allies, while the Austrian Empire and the Netherlands formed the Triple Entente with France.
On 19 July 1868, the French declared war on Prussia. In September, France also invaded the much weaker Commonwealth of Great Britain and Ireland, and in October Cygnia declared war on France in Britain's defence, allying itself officially with Prussia in November. Austria, encouraged by France, declared war on Prussia and the North German Confederation in the same month; the Netherlands entered on the side of France simultaneously.
Cygnia and Britain expelled the French forces from the British Isles in late 1869, and began a naval bombardment of the French coast after securing control of the English Channel. From 1870, ethnically based nationalist movements, spurred on by the successes of the British and by Serbia, began pushing for independence, destabilising the Austrian regime. After a stunning Austrian offensive along the Southern Front in the spring of 1870, the Allies rallied and drove back the Austrians in a series of successful offensives. The French and Dutch were also forced into a retreat from Alsace-Lorraine. Austria agreed to an armistice with the Allies on 28 August, and withdrew from the war to deal with their internal struggles.
In September 1870, Napoleon III of France surrendered at the Battle of Sedan with 80,000 men to Prussia, and the Second Empire was overthrown by a popular uprising in Paris, which forced the proclamation of a Provisional Government and a Third Republic by Generals Trochu, Favre and Gambetta on 4 September. The Germans had hoped to negotiate an armistice, but immediately ordered an advance on Paris. Cygnian forces followed suit, and by 15 September, Paris was surrounded by the Allies. On 28 January 1871, the French Government of National Defence negotiated an armistice with the Allies at Versailles, and the Netherlands quickly sued for peace shortly afterwards. The Treaty of Frankfurt, signed on 10 May 1871, formally ended the war for all parties simultaneously, including Austria, which by that time had already de facto collapsed.
In the aftermath of the war, the French and Austrian Empires had ceased to exist, while the German Empire was formed. France's North American holdings, which were taken from Britain a century earlier during the French Revolution, were awarded to Cygnia. National borders were redrawn, with several independent nations restored or created, including Hungary, the Czech Republic and Yugoslavia.