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        The Ottoman Empire reigned over Asia Minor, the Balkan Peninsula, North Africa, and the Middle East from the late thirteenth century until its demise in the early twentieth century.  After peaking in the mid-1500’s, the Ottoman Empire began its long decline, which would, in turn, set off a string of events that affected the outcome of World War I and the twentieth century, as we know it.  One of the key events in the Ottoman decline came in 1853 with the outbreak of the Crimean War.  The Crimean War began as a dispute between Russia and Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) over the rights of Orthodox Christians in Ottoman occupied territories.  Events escalated and eventually Russia was pitted against Great Britain, France, Austro-Hungary, and Turkey over what, on the surface, seemed to be an issue that could be peacefully resolved.  What then, were the reasons for the use of military action in Crimea?  First, on an international level, one reason for the Crimean War could have been the struggle to keep the balance of power in Europe during the nineteenth century.  A second explanation for the beginning of the Crimean War can be found on the national or domestic level in Turkey.  Both levels of analysis will be examined and the essay will conclude with the evaluation of which reason, international or domestic, was the true cause of the Crimean War.  

Balance of Power Argument        

In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, realizing the imminent downfall of the Ottoman Empire, the leaders of the European powers devised a system of territorial compensation with the intention of keeping the balance of power and

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not allowing one empire or state too much control over Europe.  This agreement, dubbed the Concert of Europe, would prove to be very advantageous to the major powers in Europe of that time  (Great Britain, France, Austro-Hungary, Prussian, and Russia) and with the looming fall of the Ottoman Empire there was much land to be had.  The main power struggle that formed was between Russia and Great Britain.  Great Britain had major holdings in the Middle East and throughout Asia, and the increased lands and resources would allow for greater importing and exporting throughout the Eastern Hemisphere.  For this to occur, Great Britain needed to become allies with the nation or empire through which they would be working through, and that of course was the Ottoman Empire.  It is for these reasons Great Britain began investing time and money into the Ottoman Empire.  Around 1835, Great Britain began importing and exporting with the Ottoman Empire because, at the time, they had the lowest tariff rates.  Business was booming for Great Britain, they became dependent on Turkish resources and by 1852 had increased their exports to Turkey by eight times what they were in 1825.  By doing this, Great Britain not only greatly increased its industry, but gained support among the Ottoman leaders, which would hopefully lead to lands when the empire disintegrated.  

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 With Great Britain sinking it’s hooks into the resources of the Ottoman Empire, Russia tried other tactics to prove their commitment to the preservation of the empire.  This began in 1833 when the Russians gained a foothold on the Ottoman lands in Europe through the Treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi, which put the

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Ottoman Empire under the strict protection of the Russians and gave the Russian Navy and merchant ships access to the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits.  By protecting the Ottoman Empire, Nicholas I was trying to gain support from Ottoman leaders and people, so when the time came ...

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