History Optional Paper- 2 Solution – 2000: Q.5 (b)
Q.5 (b) “The Crimean War was the most useless war ever waged.” Comment.
The Crimean War (1853–1856) was fought between the Russians and the British, French, Turkey and Sardinia-Piedmont. It reopened the Eastern Question.
The war was caused by Russian demands to exercise protection over the Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman sultan and the dispute between Russia and France over the privileges of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in the holy places in Ottoman Empire.
Robert Morier had said: “The Crimean War was the only perfectly useless war that has been waged.” Many consider it useless war which might have been avoided because:
(1) The war started with silly reasons of quarrel over the control over the religious places.
(2) The Crimean War did not solve the Eastern Question permanently. The war was followed by the Treaty of Paris whose provisions could not remain permanent.
(3) The Sultan of Turkey never carried out the reform in the condition of the Christian population living in Ottoman Empire, which he had promised in Paris after war.
(4) The main aim of the war was to weaken Russia and check it expansions. But Russian expansion checked in Europe got trasferred in the Central Asia and Britain realised that Russian danger only got transfer from Europe to Asia threatening British position in India.
(5) Just fourteen years later, Russia threw off the provision of the Treaty of Paris concerning the neutrality of the Black Sea and by 1878, completely wiped off all the restrictions placed on her by the treaty.
(6) The cost of war was enormous without any enduring result. In war, 25,000 British, 100,000 French and up to a million Russians died.
The importance of the Crimean War should be measured not by its immediate tangible results but by the most important political developments to which it was a prelude. Many consider Crimean War as the watershed of European History because:
(1) It disturbed the states system established by the Congress of Vienna and let loose forces which secured the triumph of liberalism and nationalism in Europe.
(2) It swept aside Metternich’s policy of status quo. Its first fruit was the unification of Italy.
(3) In Russia defeat in war led to far reaching reforms which lifted her out of medieval stagnation.
(4) It led to an important regrouping of Powers, which made the unification of Germany possible.