5 Causes of the Crimean War

crimean war painting

1. The Eastern Question

This is an umbrella term used by historians to refer to all the weaknesses that the Ottoman Empire was dealing with after the Russo-Turkish War (1768–74), which ended in defeat for the Ottomans. What followed was a tremendous loss of power for Turkey on the European map, which marked the beginning of the end for the superpower. On the other hand, European empires such as Russia, Austria-Hungary and Great Britain benefited from it. They made a pact to protect their commercial and political interests.

2. Dispute over Religion

In the 18th century, France was established as the guardian of Roman Catholics in the Ottoman Empire, whereas Russia was awarded the prominent title of the protector of Orthodox Christians. But receiving all these privileges still could not put an end to a conflict between the two churches. The flash point were the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Palestine, which both of the congregations claimed rights to. Eventually, the religious feud resulted in arms being drawn after the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire ruled in favor of the French.

Crimean_War map

3. A rejection of diplomatic note by the Ottomans

Shortly after the onset of the conflict, representatives of Britain, France, Austria and Prussia met in Vienna, and proceeded to draft and ultimatum for Russia and the Ottoman Empire. They hoped that both sides would settle. But, whereas Czar Nicolas I accepted the kind offer, Sultan Abd-ul-Mejid I of the Ottoman Empire rejected it. The diplomatic forces of the allied countries then offered Russia to redraft the document, but the Czar was no longer interested. In 1854, after Russia decided to remain within the previously occupied territory of the Danubian Principalities, Britain and France declared war officially.

4. Napoleon’s cause

Starting from 1850, Louis Napoleon of France decided to support the Roman Catholic cause, and he made several claims on behalf on the Catholic church. But, faith was just one reason for Napoleon’s staunch support of the Catholics. The religious question was also an excellent bait topic for the French people, to avoid discussing other vital political and social issues. Moreover, he could easily win public support by putting forward the brave notion of a second French Empire. Also, Napoleon was not particularly fond of Czar Nicholas I, who insulted him deliberately using the phrase „mon ami” (my friend) instead of the standard „mon frere” (my brother) in a telegram.

russian-prisoners-after-the-battle-of-kinburn-1855 crimean

5. Czar Nicholas’ I cause

In 1884, Czar Nicholas paid an official diplomatic visit to Britain. He met with the representatives of the Foreign Office and discussed the Eastern Question at length. Among these representatives, there was also Lord Aberdeen, the Prime Minister, who seemed to either not entirely understand Czar Nicholas’ statements or just had an intention of misleading him. Aberdeen made comments about the ‘despair and disgust’ troubling the Ottoman Empire. After the meeting, Czar Nicholas bravely upheld the notion of partitioning Turkey, whereas Aberdeen did not suspect that he might actually go through with his plan.


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