The Crimean War – Essay Example

The Crimean War was a conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. The immediate cause involved the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, a part of the Ottoman Empire; the French promoted the rights of Roman Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The longer-term causes involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power at the Ottoman expense, it has been noted for its “notorious incompetence and leadership bungling and for the many war crimes committed by its officers”.

In 1854, the Ottoman Empire, allied with France, confronted Russia in a conflict that began over religious differences in what is today Romania. At the start of the war, the Ottomans had a military advantage, but the conflict turned in Russia’s favor following a series of successful battles in northern Crimea. One of the most important military maneuvers during the war occurred during the Siege of Sevastopol, when the Russians blew up Kornilov’s Bastion, one of Sevastopol’s principal defensive structures. Despite this, the allies were unable to capture Sevastopol and were forced to abandon their campaign.

France and Britain had been at war since 1848, following the outbreak of the Revolutions of 1848, earlier in the year. In 1853, Russia and France became allies following the defeat of Austria at the Battle of Magenta; the war began in October 1853 when Russia moved into the Danubian Principalities in spite of objections from Austria, which found itself powerless to stop Russia. hostilities ensued. France and Britain, allied with the Ottomans, subsequently declared war on Russia in October 1854; the campaign began in earnest in March 1855. The war ended in February 1856, with the Treaty of Paris, which forced Russia to give up claims to the protectorate of Moldavia and Wallachia, and recognized the independence of Romania, Montenegro, and Serbia.

Sardinia was given a great deal of Austria’s land in Venetia as part of the treaty. These territorial gains were facilitated by the defeat of Austria in the Austro-Sardinian War. In return, Russia agreed to return to the Black Sea the ports of Sevastopol, Kerch and Enikale, seized by Russia during the war; the Ottoman vassal states of Wallachia and Moldavia became independent. Christians there were granted a degree of official equality, and the Orthodox Church regained control of the Christian churches in dispute; the Crimean War was one of the first conflicts in which the military used modern technologies such as explosive naval shells and telegraphs. Officers were able to gather real-time information about enemy forces, mobility, and intentions, and relay this information to their commanders, who could make decisions accordingly. The Crimean War proved to be the moment of truth for Nikolaevan Russia. The humiliation forced Russia to make drastic changes to its army, its naval laws, and its manufacturing processes.

The reaction in Russia to the defeats of 1854–55 was swift and harsh. About 200,000 nobles, such as Prince Dmitri Milyutin, left Russia forever, many of them settling in Western Europe. Although serfdom was not abolished until 1861, the number of serfs in Russia declined from 46 million in 1851 to 37 million in 1861. Serfs liberated from their landlocked status by the Emancipation reform of 1861 were redefined by the government as semi-free peasants. Civil War broke out in Russia in late 1917, as Bolshevik and conservative forces battled for control of the country in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Bolshevik forces soundly defeated the conservatives in the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922, seizing control of most of the former Russian Empire and establishing the Soviet Union. While the Russian Empire collapsed in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917, Russia was in a state of total war, fighting alongside the former allies and the White Movement against the Bolshevik Red Army and the forces of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the Provisional Government of the Finnish Karelia, the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian national armies.

The Russian Empire collapsed with the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II and the old regime was replaced by a provisional government during the first months of 1917. By October 1917, the Provisional Government had lost its control over most of the country in the October Revolution. A chaotic period of several months ensued, which included the rise of the Bolshevik Party under Vladimir Lenin and the first successful Soviet campaigns in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. A communist state, the Soviet Union was established in December 1922 with the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics under Communist party leadership by states such as the United States, United Kingdom and some other Western countries that were unwilling to recognize the new Soviet Union, regarding it as a successor state to the Russian Empire. This allowed the anti-Bolsheviks to take control of Moscow and consolidate the non-Soviet controlled areas of the former Russian Empire into the White Movement.

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