“Such to appear an innocent victim of the

“Such a right, if conceded, would reduce Turkey to the status of a Russian protectorate. ”[10]With this in the minds of other great powers, Russia has unknowingly intensified the situation substantially. Nonetheless in order to achieve these demands as well as retrieving the keys to the Holy Places, a special mission was despatched, led by Count Menshikov, to Constantinople. Menshikov’s manner however, with dealing with the Turks, was not of a negotiate type but more of an attempt to dictate to the Turkish government. This diplomatic pressure by the Russians on the Turks raised many queries in Britain, which Nicholas however, did not notice.

More and more of the British government began to back the support of Turkey, and even Aberdeen was seen to be getting concerned, especially if Russia won control over Constantinople which would allow Russian warships to come and go as they pleased through the Straits. In the event of all this, the Sultan seems to appear an innocent victim of the controversy, however Keith Randell would have to contest: “it can be notified that Napoleon was manipulated by the Sultan who had seen a way of ridding Turkey of the Russian threat which can be said to have been hanging over them for 25 years”[11].

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Turkey kept on rejecting the demands of Russia, with each demand becoming more modest, which finally infuriated the Tsar who broke off diplomatic relations with Turkey. Aberdeen, influenced greatly by Palmerston, Russell and the British press, sent a naval fleet to Turkey as a gesture of support. France followed suit, and by opposing Russia, Britain and France surprisingly found themselves as allies.

The outbreak of war at this stage was a distinct possibility, and apparently unimpressed by the British-French action Nicholas chose to increase pressure on Turkey rather then back off to the pressure he himself was faced with from Britain and France, and save humiliation. Mistakenly again, he was confident in Prussian and Austrian support and therefore to make the Turks concede to the demands which Menshikov had made, Russian troops, sent by Nicholas, occupied the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia.

Austria and Britain particularly, were alarmed at this move, firstly due to the control Russia had over the mouth of the Danube and secondly the fear that Russia had laid the foundations down in order to sought the complete domination of the Ottoman Empire. It was Austria however who attempted to defuse the crisis by organising a conference held in Vienna. Yet only Austrian, Prussian, British and French diplomats attended leaving the Sultan and the Tsar unrepresented.

They aimed to satisfy the Tsar’s honour while safeguarding Turkey’s integrity and the decision reached was that the sultan should make a few concessions to the Tsar whilst in return Russia would leave the Principalities. The responsibility had seemed to have shifted entirely onto the Sultan as Nicholas, now aware that help from Austria and Prussia was unlikely, accepted the proposals. It can be argued therefore that the Sultan could have resolved the entire situation into a peaceful and sensible solution, yet it was not to be with the sultan insisting on a number of amendments to the note.

Here, we can note again, that although the Turks may appear to be the ill-fated victims of great power politics, they were by no means innocent of hostile intentions as Alan Farmer would agree: “Western support in the mounting crisis presented them (the Turks) with a unique opportunity to take revenge on their traditional enemy Russia”[12]. A new country has consequently arisen in being perceived as a possible culprit for why The Crimean War occurred. For Turkey, it seemed the perfect time to rid them of a country who had persistently been causing problems for the Ottoman Empire.

These amendments however, were of course rejected by the Tsar and attempts to find a diplomatic resolution to the dispute had suffered a major setback. As a result, the Tsar, knowing that war was a possible likelihood, pursued his on-going task of establishing allies. Meetings were consequently organised by the Tsar with the Prussian King Frederick William IV and the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph in an effort to win support. The outcome however was not what Nicholas had hoped for with the countries only willing to remain neutral if war was to brake out.

Additionally these meetings seemed to worsen matters on the whole, especially for the Tsar, as Britain and France knew of these meetings that took place but not on what was decided, and fearing the worse; that the three rulers had hatched a plot to divide the Turkish Empire, the British and French governments sent its fleets to Constantinople. This event can strongly heighten the tension and mistrust surrounding the countries into an outbreak of war and strengthens the fact the Crimean War was a result of a series of accidents.

Russia’s occupation of the Principalities created vast Turkish nationalist resentment, placing huge pressure on the Sultan to act. Consequently in late October, Turkey declared war on Russia making the country itself seem the aggressor, yet is that a fair assessment? For Russia can be argued to have antagonised Turkish troops into crossing the Danube and launching an attack. The Russian response however, saw them sink part of a Turkish fleet causing the death of 4,000 Turks, creating a storm of protest especially within Britain and France, generating pressure for both governments to intervene on a larger scale.

Aberdeen however was still resilient of the prospect of war and Palmerston’s view on silencing the Russian arrogance once and for all was increasingly supported intensifying the pressure which Aberdeen was faced with. Napoleon first stepped up and responded, by ordering a French fleet into the Black Sea, the British soon followed suit, and both countries declared that their fleets’ job was to protect Turkish shipping. Efforts to avoid war soon became hopeless when the Tsar rejected a proposal for a six-power peace conference.

Nicholas instead pursued his efforts in gaining the two German powers to offer their armed neutrality, he sent Prince Orlov on this mission to Vienna and Berlin, but both refused. The final stages before the war broke out saw Britain and France sending Nicholas an ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from the principalities. With no surprise however, the ultimatum was ignored, and on 28th March 1854, Britain and France declared war on Russia. To conclude, the series of accidents and misunderstandings can only contribute slightly to the causes of The Crimean War.

Indeed Britain and France’s misinterpretation of the meeting between the Holy Alliance members and the Tsar’s numerous blunders are crucial factors in the build up to war. However the causes of the war seem to not rest on an individual country or event but on a number of these categories. Each country, to a certain degree, played a part in causing the Crimean War to happen. For Russia could be examined as the main aggressor, however had Austria come out openly about where it stood with Russia, at an earlier date, the Tsar would have realised to tread more warily.

France’s capability lay in raising the issue of the holy places and the view that Napoleon III was only aiming to raise France’s stature in Europe. With Britain, British public opinion seemed to work in pressurising the government to take a firm stance against Russia. Whilst lastly Turkey, the so-called victim of The Crimean War, where the Sultan can be argued to have sabotaged the best hope of a peaceful solution by rejecting the Vienna note, as taking vengeance on a country which has caused numerous problems for Turkey, was a better option.

Bibliography: A. L Macfie, The Eastern Question 1774-1923, Longman, 1996 Alan Farmer, Nineteenth- Century European History 1815-1914, Hodder and Stoughton, 2001 Keith Randell, France 1814-70 Monarchy Republic and Empire, Hodder and Stoughton, 1991 Eric Wilmot, The Great Powers 1814-1914, Nelson, 1992 http://mars. acnet. wnec. edu/~grempel/courses/russia/lectures/19crimeanwar. html (Gerhard Rempel) Andrina Stiles and Alan Farmer, The Unification of Germany 1815-90, Hodder and Stoughton, 2001 John Sweetman, The Crimean War, Osprey

2,988 words [1] M. S. Anderson, interpretation of the Crimean War, quoted in Alan Farmers, Nineteenth Century European History, p. 94 [2] Andrew Lambert, interpretation of the Crimean War, ibid, p. 94 [3] John Sweetman, The Crimean War, p. 17 [4] opcit Alan Farmer, p101 [5] John Sweetman, opcit, p18 [6] Keith Randell, France 1814-70 Monarchy Republic & Empire, p. 105 [7] Ibid p. 108 [8] Gerhard Rempel, http://mars. acnet. wnec. edu/~grempel/courses/russia/lectures/19crimeanwar. html [9] A. L. Macfie, The Eastern Question 1774-1923, p. 27.