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Crimean War

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Conflict (1853–6) between Russia on the one hand and France, Britain, and (latterly) Piedmont on the other, labeled by A. J. P. Taylor as the “most unnecessary of wars.” It began with a Franco-Russian squabble over guardianship of the Holy Places in the decaying Ottoman Empire (see turkey and europe ). This led Russia to occupy the provinces of moldavia and Wallachia, and the Ottoman regime to respond by declaring war in October 1853. But the causes went wider. The revolutions of 1848–9 had weakened Austria and Prussia, upsetting the balance of power in central Europe established at the vienna congress and encouraging Russia to pursue an expansionist policy southwards and westwards. This was anathema to Britain which feared a tsarist seizure of Constantinople and the bosphorus that would threaten its Mediterranean interests. napoleon iii was similarly opposed to Russian expansion, and keen to reassert French authority. Accordingly, France and Britain sent warships into the Black Sea in January 1854 and declared war in March. This led to a hasty Russian withdrawal from the danubian principalities . There the matter might have ended, but France and Britain were intent upon a prestige victory that would deter future Russian aggression. Thus they landed troops in the Crimea with the aim of capturing Sevastopol, the principal base for the Black Sea fleet. Despite costly victories ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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