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A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes.png This a Useful Notes page. A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes.png

The Crimean War was a war fought on 1853-56 between the Russian Empire on one side and an alliance consisting of the British Empire, the French Empire (no not that empire), the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire (today's Turkey). It also count as the 13th of Russia's 16 wars with Turkey (the first stemming back to the mid 16th Century)

Known in Russia as the Oriental War and sometimes in Britain as the Russian War.

This all started when French Emperor Napoleon III induced the the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid I to recognize France as the protector of the Christian peoples in Ottoman Palestine (which at the time meant the whole eastern shore of the Mediterranean: not just modern Israel/Palestine, but also Lebanon and bits of Syria and Turkey). This of course did not sit well with the Russian Tsar, Nicholas I (not the other Nick), as it had the practical effect of favoring the Catholic communities of the region (particularly the Maronites of Lebanon) over the various Eastern Orthodox communities of which Russia regarded itself as the natural protector. As a result, Russia sent troops to the Ottoman-controlled Danubian Provinces (in today's Romania), forcing Abdulmecid to declare war on Russia. A surprise attack on Turkish ships in the Battle of Sinop drew Britain and France into the war. Sardinia came in for reasons unclear to everyone but its Prime Minister, Count Cavour.

The war was fought on three fronts, the major front was the Danubian Front, fought in the Balkans (mainly Romania), the Black Sea and the Crimean Peninsula in modern-day Ukraine. The name of the war comes from the fact most of the fighting was in the Crimea, particularly in the port city of Sevastopol, which was besieged by the Allies for almost a year before the Russians surrendered.

Other fronts were the Caucasus Campaign (fought mainly in Armenia and Northwestern Turkey), with its major battle being a 5-month siege in Kars, and the Naval Campaign (fought in the Baltic and White Seas as well as the Pacific Ocean) and saw the defeat of the Russian Baltic fleet.

A major cultural touchstone is the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava (25 October 1854). Over six hundred English cavalry, following ambiguous instructions misdelivered, courageously charged a heavily-defended Russian outpost and suffered massive casualties. Tennyson wrote a poem about it.

In the end it was an allied victory. The resulting Treaty of Paris (the first since the Napoleonic Wars) gave the Danubian Principality of Moldavia the Budjak, both Moldavia and Wallachia autonomy (to be monitored by the victorious powers) and demilitarized the Black Sea (and unimportantly, the Russian-controlled Aaland Islands in Finland).

Russia's setback also instituted greater reforms in the military, which it would put to good use when they fought Turkey again 20 years later.

Tropes involved in this war and its period:
  • The Alliance: Played Ironically Straight with Britain, France and Turkey, since in reality they are all empires.
  • A Father to His Men: Admiral Pavel Nakhimov and Sir Colin Campbell
  • Balance of Power: Ottoman Turkey and Romanov Russia for centuries have been fighting for Influence over the Balkans and Ukraine to the West (with Austria and until the late 18th century, Poland), and the Caucasus to the east (with Persia/Iran until the early 19th Century)
  • Eagle Squadron: the Sardinian Army as a whole on this one. They were only fighting the war so they could have a chance to discuss with Britain and France a way to unify the Italian Peninsula. On the Russian side, we had the Bulgarian Legion.
  • Hold the Line: The Thin Red Line. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the 93rd Highland Regiment.
    • And from Russia's point of view, the defence of Sevastopol was one.
  • Intrepid Reporter: William Howard Russell is notable in being the first reporter to ever be attached to an army; his reporting revolutionized the practice. Notably, his condemnation of the British logistical system's utter failure in comparison to the French system led to widespread reforms.
  • Lord Error-Prone/General Failure: both Lucan and Cardigan were and are criticized for ordering the Charge of the Light Brigade; after the event was over both of them vigorously tried to smear the other. On a larger scale, the incompetence of so many military officers in the British force eventually led to a reform leading to the phase-out of the practice of purchasing commissions. Not that the British had a monopoly on bad generals, however: Canrobert of the French army was nicknamed "Robert Can't" for his indecisiveness, and Prince Menshikov was downright incompetent, losing the Battle of Alma before being Kicked Upstairs.
  • Poor Communication Kills: This is what led to the Charge of the Light Brigade.
  • The Empire: Russia
  • The Engineer: Eduard Totleben
  • The Siege: Used in Sevastopol and Kars
  • Turks With Troops
  • Xanatos Gambit: Sardinia's participation in the war, with a dash of Batman Gambit for good measure. The Sardinian Prime Minister Count Cavour came into the war recognizing that no matter how large or small the commitment, no matter whether they won or lost, the other powers, particularly France, would owe Sardinia a solid. A few years later, Cavour calls in the favor: France would have to withdraw its troops from the Papal States, the last barrier to the complete unification of Italy. The ever-honorable Napoleon III couldn't refuse.
  • We ARE Struggling Together!: frictions between the British, the French, the Turks, and eventually the Austrians accounted for much of the blundering.
  • Zerg Rush: The Charge of the Light Brigade. It didn't work well.
  • The Medic: Florence Nightingale on the British side, Nikolai Pirogov and Dasha Sevastopolskaya on the Russian side.

The Crimean War in fiction: