At the outbreak of World War I , Weber, aged 50, volunteered for service and was appointed as a reserve officer and put in charge of organizing the army hospitals in Heidelberg, a role he fulfilled until the end of 1915.   Weber's views on the war and the expansion of the German empire changed during the course of the conflict.    Early on he supported the nationalist rhetoric and the war effort, though with some hesitation as he viewed the war as a necessity to fulfill German duty as a leading state power. In time, however, Weber became one of the most prominent critics of German expansionism and of the Kaiser 's war policies.  He publicly attacked the Belgian annexation policy and unrestricted submarine warfare and later supported calls for constitutional reform, democratisation and universal suffrage . 
Weber distinguished three pure types of political leadership domination and authority: charismatic domination ( familial and religious ), traditional domination ( patriarchs , patrimonialism, feudalism ), and legal domination (modern law and state, bureaucracy ). In his view, every historical relation between rulers and ruled contained elements that can be analyzed on the basis of this tripartite distinction. He also noted that the instability of charismatic authority inevitably forces it to "routinize" into a more structured form of authority.