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The Crimean War, Why Do Some Historians Refer To It As " The First Modern War"

994 words - 4 pages

The Crimean War of 1853-56 was one of the long series of Russo-Turkish wars, but it differed from the others in that Britain and France were involved. In fact, the military conflict was between Russia and a coalition of Great Britain, France, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). Some historians consider the Crimean War as "the first modern war", in that it utilised many new factors that weren¹t used in previous wars.The Congress of Vienna introduced new rules into the balance-of-power game. Great Britain, France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria were now dedicated to a European territorial settlement maintained by a new mechanism called the Concert of Europe. Any changes would have to be made by prior consultation among the five major powers. The Eastern Question revolved around the fear that one of the European powers would upset the balance of power by taking advantage of any internal changes made in the domains of the Ottoman Empire.By the early 1850s, however, Czar Nicholas I of Russia believed he saw another opportunity to further Russian influence by intervention in Turkish affairs. He felt confident of grateful support from Austria in return for the aid Russia had given the Habsburg dynasty during the revolutions of 1848 to 1850. He also believed, mistakenly, that the British government of George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th earl of Aberdeen, would collaborate in a partition of the Balkan territories controlled by the Turks.The immediate pretext for Russian intervention was a dispute between Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians over control of the holy places in Palestine, which was part of the Ottoman Empire. In December 1852 the Ottoman sultan, responding to French pressure, decided in favor of the Roman Catholics. Nicholas, the protector of Orthodoxy, quickly dispatched a mission to Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), aiming at a new settlement in favor of the Orthodox and a treaty guaranteeing the rights of the Orthodox population of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, in discussions with the British ambassador to Russia, Nicholas raised the possibility of a partition of the Balkans and a 'temporary' Russian occupation of Constantinople and the straits.The British ambassador to Constantinople, Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, helped arrange an amicable settlement of the holy places question, but persuaded the Turks to reject the other Russian demands as a threat to their sovereignty. Russia responded on July 1, 1853, by occupying the Turkish principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. The European powers attempted to arrange a compromise, but this proved futile. On October 4, confident of British and French support, Turkey declared war.The Crimean War began at Sevastopol, on the tip of the Crimean peninsula in 1853. Neither side distinguished itself during the war. Far more soldiers died of disease than of battlefield wounds. Utilization of the newly developed telegraph system exerted an influence on government...

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