End of the Crimean War
The 30th of March 1856 AD
With the signing of the Treaty of Paris on March 30 1856 the Crimean War came to an end. The war had arisen for both ‘spiritual’ and economic reasons: Russia and France disputed the right to authority as protectors of the Christian interest in the Holy Land; and the major European parties in the conflict – Britain, France, Russia – were positioning themselves to gain what they could from the gradual but seemingly inevitable decline of the Ottoman Empire.
Britain’s involvement in the conflict lasted just two years and two days, war having been declared on March 28 1854, but in that two years much of great future significance happened: Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole demonstrated the value of women in nursing patients during the war; the nature of warfare itself changed, with railways and telegraphs being employed, and major changes in armaments coming about. And in Britain the sale of military commissions was shown up as being a root cause of some of the military blunders thrust before the public gaze by war reporters in the Crimea, another of the ‘modern’ aspects of this war.
The Treaty of Paris saw the Ottoman Sultan promise to treat his Christian subjects better, a promise soon reneged on; saw the Black Sea Fleet of Russia dismantled; and reduced Russia’s influence over the region. Further afield the Aland Islands in the Baltic, Finnish territory and thus under Russian control at that time, were demilitarised, one result of the conflict in that forgotten theatre of the war.
All parties promised to respect the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, and all looked longingly on choice elements of it, and few if any expected the situation to remain unchanged for very long. By 1870 the political balance in Europe had changed enough for Russia to go back on its Black Sea commitments, and the Balkan picture would be altered radically, with eventual repercussions in WWI .
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