Fanning the Flames of the Russian Revolution


Essay, 2012

12 Pages, Grade: 95.0


Excerpt

The Crimean War and the Great War were two conflicts that resulted in drastic changes for the Russian people and altered Russia’s diplomatic status in the world. The social, political, and economic changes that arose as the result of these failures undid hundreds of years of the Russian Feudal system and Czarist autocracy. The focus of this paper will discuss the parallels and connections between the Crimean War and the Great War. Its purpose will be to demonstrate the similarities of these two Russian wars and to prove that the revolutions of 1917 were the direct result of the Crimean War.

In the years prior to the Crimean war (1853-1856), the Russian Empire had undergone massive change and reforms, economically, diplomatically, socially, and culturally, under the rule of Czar Nicholas I. This was more evident among the aristocracy and upper classes than among the lower classes. Since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, after the defeat of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte I, the Russian Empire had become the dominant power in Europe, joining a “Holy Alliance” with other European giants such as the United Kingdom, France, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Austrian Empire to reestablish order, maintain peace, and police the continent of Europe in general. After the Congress, Europe maintained three decades of peace, in which industrial, political, economic, social, and nationalist catalysts for revolution, civil war, or rebellion were suppressed by threat of invasion from an international European force. Eventually this repressive alliance was broken down when the Ottoman Empire started losing power and could no longer maintain strict control of its European territories. Despite the Holy Alliance’s original promise to suppress revolution and social disorder, they saw this as their opportunity to liberate the Christian peoples of the Balkans from the Muslim Ottoman Turks.[1]

The new president of France, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte III, hoped to gain conservative support for a planned coup d’état by securing concessions for the Catholic church in Palestine. Czar Nicholas I of Russia caught wind of this and decided to send a mission to recover Greek Orthodox rights in the region. The Ottoman Empire, being in a state of decline, agreed to both requests to avoid conflict and focus on recovering power in other areas. Because Napoleon III had already established the Second French Empire, he lost interest in his plan for a coup d’état. Nicholas I, however, expecting support from Prussia, Austria, and Britain, decided to establish Russian settlements in the Balkans and carve up the European territories of the Ottoman Empire. Nicholas was mistaken in his assumption of support from Britain and Austria. Neither empire wanted to see Russia controlling the Dardanelles, and grow increasingly more powerful than the other powers. Napoleon III, attempting the reestablish French power in the continent, joined Britain in support of the Ottoman Empire.[2] In July of 1853, the Russian Empire occupied the Danubian principalities of Moldavia and Walachia to put pressure on the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. This, however, threatened the Austrian Empire’s economic lifeline on the Danube River, causing further tension between the two European powers. Despite their loss of power in Europe, the Ottoman Empire proved to be remarkably dexterous and aggressive in defending its European holdings. The United Kingdom and the Second French Empire, seeking to prevent Russia from becoming significantly more powerful than the other European powers, allied with the Ottoman Turks and declared war of the Russian Empire in October of 1853.[3]

The following November, the Russian Black Sea fleet annihilated an Ottoman squadron at the city of Sinop on the northern coast of Anatolia. The United Kingdom was anxious to secure trade agreements with the Ottoman Empire to maintain access to India by preserving the Ottoman regime. At the same time, the French Empire was desperate to reestablish military glory and seek revenge against the Russian for their defeat in 1812, the Ottoman Empire was incidental. Thus, the United Kingdom and France demanded that Russia vacate the Danubian principalities and gave the Russians an ultimatum that would expire the following March of 1854. Learning from history, the British and French empires timed their ultimatum with the breakup of the Baltic ice fields and the decline of winter. The British hoped to avoid another disastrous invasion of Russia, like the one that Napoleon I had experienced several decades earlier, by waiting until the spring to annihilate the Russian Baltic fleet and set a path for a potential invasion of Saint Petersburg and establish a base near Russia’s other great security concern, Poland.[4]

The expiration date of the ultimatum came and passed. War was imminent. Like most wars, this one was expected to be over quickly, the enemy would surrender within a few weeks, maybe a month, certainly before winter or Christmas arrived. The Russians saw no reason to be worried, since the end of the Napoleonic wars, they had risen as the dominant power in Europe and were, at this time, at the height of their power. This would not stay the case however, as news reports and history tells of the war. It would last more than a few years and be the catalyst that would that would bring about the decline of the Russian Empires power and significance in Europe.

The powerful Anglo-French navy took control of the Baltic Sea and the unoccupied harbors of the Russian Baltic states. An allied army, 60,000 men strong, was placed in The Ottoman Empire to defend Istanbul. The Austrian Empire, siding with the French Empire and the United Kingdom, then demanded that Russia evacuate the Danubian principalities. Nicholas I had actually agreed to evacuate the region, calling the allies' bluff that the war was more about taking power away from Russia than maintaining the sovereignty of the Danubian principalities.[5] Nevertheless, the war did come.

An early battle in the war, the Battle of Balaclava, which took place on October 24th, 1854, ended with the famous “Charge of the Light Brigade,” which was an astonishing success for the British, with only 118 out of 620 cavalry men being killed. It is said that the Russians were so shocked by the brazenness of the British charge, that they never again dared face the British in an open field.[6] On November 5th, 1854, a major Russian offensive at Inkerman, in Crimea, was beaten back with massive losses by isolated British infantry units. A week later, poor weather caused the sinking of vital transport ships, making roads impassable and bringing the war to a standstill. Over the winter the Italian kingdom of Sardinia joined the allies against the Russian Empire.[7]

News reports from the time tell of Russia’s situation. A report from the New York Times, dating 19 October, 1855 states:

[...]


[1] Crimean War News Reports. A Web of English History, British Foreign Policy 1815-1865. Historyhome.co.uk. 5 January, 2011. Web. 22 September, 2012.

[2] Crimean War News Reports. A Web of English History, British Foreign Policy 1815-1865. Historyhome.co.uk. 5 January, 2011. Web. 22 September, 2012.

[3] Crimean War News Reports. A Web of English History, British Foreign Policy 1815-1865. Historyhome.co.uk. 5 January, 2011. Web. 22 September, 2012.

[4] Crimean War News Reports. A Web of English History, British Foreign Policy 1815-1865. Historyhome.co.uk. 5 January, 2011. Web. 22 September, 2012.

[5] Crimean War News Reports. A Web of English History, British Foreign Policy 1815-1865. Historyhome.co.uk. 5 January, 2011. Web. 22 September, 2012.

[6] Crimean War News Reports. A Web of English History, British Foreign Policy 1815-1865. Historyhome.co.uk. 5 January, 2011. Web. 22 September, 2012.

[7] Crimean War News Reports. A Web of English History, British Foreign Policy 1815-1865. Historyhome.co.uk. 5 January, 2011. Web. 22 September, 2012.

Excerpt out of 12 pages

Details

Title
Fanning the Flames of the Russian Revolution
College
Westminster College
Course
Russian History
Grade
95.0
Author
Year
2012
Pages
12
Catalog Number
V323140
ISBN (eBook)
9783668223394
ISBN (Book)
9783668223400
File size
393 KB
Language
English
Tags
Russia, Russian Revolution, Crimean War, Czar Nicholas, Russian Nationalism
Quote paper
Michael Gorman (Author), 2012, Fanning the Flames of the Russian Revolution, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/323140

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