The weekend past saw the centenary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, with as consequence World War I. The sequence of the events by which this happened has often been analyzed in the search for an answer to a much deeper question: What was behind it all? What was the ultimate mover of that war that cut a profound fissure into the history of Western civilization, generally taken as responsible for World War II as well, and starting point for the world in which we now live?

The schoolroom explanation for war itself among the earliest human societies is rivalry over territory, resources and women. This is plausible but unproven, although the earliest legendary, literary and historical chronicles of our civilization are of wars conducted by recognizably modern men motivated by aggrandizement or greed or ego (and include the chronicle of Helen of Troy).

This would seem to have eventually evolved into the monarchical, feudal and dynastic systems of early and medieval Europe, their conflicts, the wars with Islam (both territorial and religious), and the Reformation-inspired religious wars in Europe that finally ended in the peace of Westphalia, the beginning of the modern European state system.