Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an event that precipitated the First World War. As part of its centennial remembrance, the BBC released a lesson on the origins of the war—in rap battle form. The video highlights the complicated system of European alliances that pulled more and more countries into the conflict after the initial assassination pitted Serbia against Austria-Hungary. While the BBC is known for highbrow content, the video doesn’t shy away from the authentic crudeness of a rap battle, such as when Emperor Franz Josef explains he’s going to make the Russians, Mongols, and Turks, his “bitches.” The video is an entertaining explanation of a complicated war that most American schools don’t have much interest in teaching, given that American involvement was brief. (Although since this is a BBC product, France’s General Joffre stands quietly in the back without any lines. Historical narratives are never without biases.) Those looking for a bit more historical detail should check on io9’s detailed feature on the origins of war.

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