Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 2: Shifts in the Balance of Power, 1800-1853

Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 2: Shifts in the Balance of Power, 1800-1853
Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 2: Shifts in the Balance of Power, 1800-1850

This collection includes discussions of diplomatic treaties like those of Bucharest of 1812 and Adrianople (Edirne) of 1829; the commercial and military issue of access to the Black Sea; eye-witness accounts from war theaters; and plans for, and ideas about, future confrontations. The fact that many different perspectives are represented in this collection makes it extra attractive.

Advisor
: Maurits van den Boogert
Number of titles: 120
Languages used: Western languages, German, French, English
E-ISBN: 978 90 04 19280 5

More information on Brill.com
Purchase Access

Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 2: Shifts in the Balance of Power, 1800-1853

During the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, the balance of power between Russia and the Ottoman Empire was constantly monitored in Western Europe, where several powers had designs of their own on some of the Ottoman territories. In Germany and France, in particular, all kinds of accounts, opinions, and plans were published that were influenced by, or aimed to influence, Russian-Ottoman relations. They include publications of relevant government documents, diplomatic reports, travel accounts that provided new details about hitherto relatively unknown regions, and fiercely political (and polemical) tracts and pamphlets designed to rally public support for one power or the other.

Introduction

In the thirteenth century large swathes of Asia were overrun by the Mongols, but new political entities arose from the ashes. Moscovy became independent of the Golden Horde around 1480, and by building and expanding their central power, the Moscovite princes soon became the dominant rulers in the region. Until the sixteenth century Russian territorial expansion concentrated on the northern borders, where Sweden was the principal opponent. In this period the nobility still held a powerful position, and the Tsar was not yet an autocratic ruler. The Mongol invasion of Anatolia to the south of Russia had only temporarily reversed the position of the Ottomans as the dominant power in Asia Minor. Soon the Turks were expanding their empire into the Balkans in the West, later spreading eastward into the traditional heartlands of Islam. The sultan ruled his empire more or less autocratically, his powers constrained only by the precepts of Islamic law. Initially, Russia and the Ottoman Empire were not direct neighbors, but the two empires soon edged closer to each other.

In 1569 the first Ottoman-Russian war broke out after an army of the Ottoman Sultan Selim III marched on Astrakhan. Although the siege was broken by a Russian relief army and the Ottomans withdrew, the city was partially razed. Two years later Moscow suffered the same fate at the hands of Crimean Tatars, whose Khanate was a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. However, their ambitions to expand northward were frustrated by the Russians at the Battle of Molodi in 1572. Though Ottoman aspirations for expansion to the north were checked at an early stage, Russian designs on territorial gains at the Ottomans' expense only became stronger. Wars and the subsequent redefinition of borders would become a central theme in Russian-Ottoman relations until the twentieth century.

Part 2: Shifts in the Balance of Power, 1800-1853
The issue of the protection of Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire forms a clear link between the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca and the Crimean War, which started in 1854. Ever since the earliest French-Ottoman diplomatic relations in the 16th century, France assumed the role of champion of Catholicism, claiming the right to intervene with the Ottoman government on behalf of both foreign and Ottoman Catholics. At the end of the 18th century Russia began to claim similar rights to protect the Orthodox subjects of the sultan. Contrary to popular belief these claims were not based on treaties, but on interpretations of dubious translations of the original texts.

Custody over the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was the object of continuous disputes between the Orthodox and Catholic clergy in Palestine. The self-proclaimed diplomatic representatives of the parties, Russia and France were also involved in these conflicts. After both sides had turned to the sultan, he ruled in favor of the Catholics in 1853. The Tsar subsequently attempted to obtain a treaty allowing the Russians to intervene on the Orthodox' behalf whenever they considered it necessary. The sultan rejected the treaty, however, partly because of the objections of the British and French ambassadors in Istanbul. The Tsar subsequently marched his troops into the Ottoman principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, using the sultan's inadequate resolution of the disputes in Palestine as a pretext.

This collection includes discussions of diplomatic treaties like those of Bucharest of 1812 and Adrianople (Edirne) of 1829; the commercial and military issue of access to the Black Sea; eye-witness accounts from war theaters; and plans for, and ideas about, future confrontations. The fact that many different perspectives are represented in this collection makes it extra attractive.
Location of originals

Library of Russia in St. Petersburg
 
 

Cite this page

Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 2: Shifts in the Balance of Power, 1800-1853, advisor: M. van den Boogert, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008 <http://primarysources.brillonline.com/browse/russianottoman-relations-part-2>