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The Crimean War: The Causes, the Interests of the Powers and the Legacies of War


The Crimean War of 1853-1856 was a short but decisive war fought between the alliance of Britain, the Ottoman Empire, France, and the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont (Italy) against the Russian Empire. The weakness of the Ottoman Empire made Russia to aspire for a protectorate in the Balkan region of Walachia and Moldavia.

As the influence of Russia in the Balkan region was taking a forceful approach, the Ottoman Empire, having the support of Britain and France, declared war on Russia and this practically led to the total outbreak of the Crimean war in 1854.



With abounding legacies on modern-day warfare, the Crimean War has been the first modern way and one of the most important events in military history. In a subsequent manner, the interests of the powers and the legacies of the war will be examined.

Interest of Russia

The interest of Russia was to make use of the advantage of the weakness of the Ottoman Empire to advance her influence in the Balkan region by setting up a protectorate in Wallachia and Moldavia. The rejection of the claim by the Ottoman Empire led the Russian troops to occupy Wallachia and Moldavia and subsequently the Ottoman Empire having the interest to protect her territories declared war on Russia.

Also, Russia had religious interests just like France. The grudge between Orthodox Russia and Roman Catholic France was the immediate cause of the war. Both Russia and France wanted to have access to the key of the Navity church in the Ottoman Empire.


As for France, her major interest was prestige and honour. Napoleon III wanted to give to the French people what they expected from Napoleon- victory and glory. Besides, France sought to disrupt the (balance of power) concert of Europe which has been curtailing the expansion of France and which had claimed parts of the territories during the application of the principle of compensation to ring France with strong powers to prevent her expansion.

Though having little attachment with the Balkan question, Napoleon entered the war in order to make France the superpower in Europe and to shatter the (French curtailing) Congress System of 1814-15.


The British Empire always maintained her economic interest. The urge to protect the strategic location of the Balkan region in order to allow free passage of the British goods into and the passage of raw materials from the Indies led the British into the war.

Britain traditionally became an ally to the Ottoman Empire in order to shun a Russian protectorate which may later lead to the construction of toll gate at the entrance of Sevastopol.

Britain had more things to do with the Aegean Sea, this made Britain form an alliance with the French force and they declared war on Russia when the latter force occupied Wallachia and Moldavia.


Sardinia-Piedmont (Italy), under the canny minister, Count Cavour, joined the war in 1855 on the side of the Ottoman forces in order to be able to discuss the oppression and maltreatment of the Austrian Empire in the Italian kingdom.


At the Treaty of Paris in 1856, Cavour was able to discuss Italian Risorgimento and it practically led to the independence of Italy as France supported Italy to secure Lombardy by the followed Battle of Magenta and Solferino in 1859.

Austrian Empire

The Austrian Empire claimed to be neutral throughout the war, but it was evident that Austria coveted Wallachia and Moldavia. Once the Russian troops occupied this region, Austria sent Vienna notes to both the Ottoman Empire and Russia.

Among the covenants of the sent note was the demilitarization of the Dardanelles, and the renouncement of a Russian protectorate in the region. This led to the severance of old allies, Russia and Austria. It is obvious why Russia left Austria to face the Italian and German unification in the next nineteenth century.  

Russia and the Ottoman Empire

Russia made an attempt by sending Menshikoff (Menshikov) to discuss the partitioning of Ottoman territories and this was rejected by Britain, whose economy was her lifeblood. Russia in the pretext of fighting for the key of Navity Church occupied Wallachia and Moldavia and subsequently the Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia.

The siege of Sevastopol by the Franco-British forces officially marked the beginning of the war and other skirmishes ranging from the Charge of the Light Brigade, the siege of Sevastopol and Asov, among others in that line.

Effects and Impacts

The immediate effect of the war was the defeat of Russia and the demilitarisation of the Balkan region. The Russian troops were forced out of the region and the Treaty of Paris made for demilitarisation of the region.

The defeat made Russia return to internal development, just like Britain and other powers. Though France was able to shatter the Concert of Europe but did not eventually become the superpower. In contrast, (Germany) Prussia, under the Austrian Empire, became the superpower in Europe as she embarked on the course of unification.


The resultant effects of the Crimean War are its legacies on modern-day warfare and relations. It was the first modern war in history where advanced weapons were utilized. Though the Napoleonic Wars left some legacies, the price of fatalities and advancement rose higher than any other war prior to 1850s.

Use of Media

The use of media to cover wartime reports occurred for the first time during the Crimean War. The British government sent William Russell to be reporting to the Times and later R. Fenton, a photographer, to be able to cover and relate the reality of the war as well as reports of trends in the event.

The existence of media coverage led to the spread of some trends of the battles like Thin Red Line, Charge of the Light Brigade, Cardigan, Regan sleeve among others in that line.

Battlefield Medical Practice

Also (the paradigmatic) medical practice on the battlefield surfaced for the first time. Florence Nightingale went to the battlefield to be providing needed treatments to the wounded soldiers. Actually, the death of the soldiers could not be attached to war only; diseases also broke out and it claimed thousands of lives of the soldiers.

The practice of leaving beards (in order to protect themselves against cold and cold-like diseases) by the soldiers first occurred during the Crimean War. Besides Florence, Pavlovana also aided in the course of medical treatment on the battlefield.

It also led to the emergence of Italy and Germany as independent states. The neutrality of Austria during the war did not favour her as she was left to face the revolts of Germany and Italy during their moves to unify their loosely defined territories under the Austrian empire.

Also, the state of Romania evolved out of Wallachia and Moldavia. It also contributed to the fall of the Ottoman Empire as different territories under the empire started to see themselves as one and therefore wanted to be independent.

Conclusively, the grudge held by the powers who were all not pleased with the settlements of the Paris treaty subsequently led to the era of alliance system and lastly The Great War (1914-1918).

Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.