Although a European War had often seemed likely in the decades before 1914, there were many who believed that it was unthinkable among modern civilized nations. The slide to war from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June to the British intervention on 4 August is a well-known tale. These documents outlining the private views of the Prime Minister and the Colonial Secretary in the week before the British declaration of war reveal that British intervention was by no means inevitable. Many in the Liberal government assumed that there was no reason to intervene directly in the 'Austro-Servian War'.
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CMD 6231 - Harcourt - 1914 Cabinet Journal, Nuneham 26.7.14 Foreign Office telegram with Lewis Harcourtâ€™s notes of Cabinet discussions on the eve of British intervention, 1 August 1914
CMD 6231 - Harcourt - Foreign Office Telegram 1.8.14 Asquith outlines the case for British intervention, 2 August 1914
MS. Eng. c. 7093, fols. 7v-8r â€˜WARâ€™ Diary of Margot Asquith, 4 August 1914
MS. Eng. d. 3210, fol. 258r