Crimean War

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Crimean War

(krīmē`ən), 1853–56, war between Russia on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire, Great Britain, France, and Sardinia on the other. The causes of the conflict were inherent in the unsolved Eastern QuestionEastern Question,
term designating the problem of European territory controlled by the decaying Ottoman Empire in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th cent. The Turkish threat to Europe was checked by the Hapsburgs in the 16th cent.
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. The more immediate occasion was a dispute between Russia and France over the Palestinian holy places. Challenging the claim of Russia to guardianship of the holy places, France in 1852 secured from Sultan Abd al-MajidAbd al-Majid
or Abdülmecit
, 1823–61, Ottoman sultan (1839–61), son and successor of Mahmud II to the throne of the Ottoman Empire. The rebellion of Muhammad Ali was checked by the intervention (1840–41) of England, Russia, and Austria.
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 certain privileges for the Latin churches. Russian counterdemands were turned down (1853) by the Ottoman government.

In July, 1853, Russia retorted by occupying the Ottoman vassal states of Moldavia and Walachia, and in October, after futile negotiations, the Ottomans declared war. In Mar., 1854, Britain and France, having already dispatched fleets to the Black Sea, declared war on Russia; Sardinia followed suit in Jan., 1855. Austria remained neutral, but by threatening to enter the war on the Ottoman side forced Russia to evacuate Moldavia and Walachia, which were occupied (Aug., 1854) by Austrian troops.

In Sept., 1854, allied troops landed in the Crimea, with the object of capturing SevastopolSevastopol
, formerly spelled Sebastopol, city (1989 pop. 355,000), on the Crimean peninsula and the Bay of Sevastopol, an inlet of the Black Sea. From 1954 part of Ukraine (then the Ukrainian SSR), it passed to Russian control in 2014 after the occupation and annexation of
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. The Russian fortress, defended by TotlebenTotleben or Todleben, Eduard Ivanovich
, 1818–84, Russian general and military engineer. He won his chief renown in the Crimean War by his defense of Sevastopol (1854–55).
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, resisted heroically until Sept., 1855. Allied commanders were Lord RaglanRaglan, Fitzroy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron,
1788–1855, British general. He entered the army in 1804 and was made (1814) a lieutenant colonel for his services on the duke of Wellington's staff in the
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 for the British and Marshal Saint-Arnaud, succeeded later by Marshal Canrobert, for the French. Military operations, which were marked on both sides by great stubbornness, gallantry, and disregard for casualties, remained localized. Famous episodes were the battles of BalaklavaBalaklava
, section of the city of Sevastopol, on the Crimean peninsula. In ancient times it was an important Greek commercial city. In the Middle Ages it belonged to the Genoese until it was taken (1475) by the Turks, who gave it its present name.
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 and InkermanInkerman
, eastern suburb of Sevastopol, S Crimea. In 1854, French and British troops defeated the Russian forces at Inkerman in the Crimean War. Nearby are cave dwellings and a burial place (2d–4th cent.) and a 14th-century fortress.
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 (1854) and the allied capture (1855) of MalakhovMalakhov
, hill overlooking Sevastopol, S Crimea, just east of the city. A major fortified point in the Crimean War, it was stormed (1855) by the French after an 11-month siege. The name is often spelled Malakoff.
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 and Redan, which preceded the fall of Sevastopol. On the Asian front the Russians gained advantages and occupied Kars.

The accession (1855) of Czar Alexander IIAlexander II,
1818–81, czar of Russia (1855–81), son and successor of Nicholas I. He ascended the throne during the Crimean War (1853–56) and immediately set about negotiating a peace (see Paris, Congress of).
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 and the capture of Sevastopol led to peace negotiations that resulted (Feb., 1856) in the Treaty of Paris (see Paris, Congress ofParis, Congress of,
1856, conference held by representatives of France, Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), Sardinia, Russia, Austria, and Prussia to negotiate the peace after the Crimean War. In the Treaty of Paris (Mar.
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). The Crimean War ended the dominant role of Russia in SE Europe; the cooling of Austro-Russian relations was an important factor in subsequent European history. The scandalous treatment of the troops, particularly the wounded, depicted by war correspondents, prompted the work of Florence NightingaleNightingale, Florence,
1820–1910, English nurse, the founder of modern nursing, b. Florence, Italy. Her life was dedicated to the care of the sick and war wounded and to the promotion of her vision of an effective public health-care system.
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, which was perhaps the most positive result of the war.

Bibliography

See studies by D. Wetzel (1985), A. Palmer (1987), T. Royle (2000), S. Markovitz (2009), and O. Figes (2011).