British Foreign Policy 1815-65

I am happy that you are using this web site and hope that you found it useful. Unfortunately, the cost of making this material freely available is increasing, so if you have found the site useful and would like to contribute towards its continuation, I would greatly appreciate it. Click the button to go to Paypal and make a donation.

A British view of the Crimean War: introduction

This document has been copied from its primary location on The Victorian Web.

So far as Britain was concerned, the Crimean War was part of the wider Eastern Question that had existed since the time of Pitt the Younger. However, on this occasion the conflicts were not contained as they had been previously and so the situation degenerated into a war. It was one more foreign matter which broke yet another British government, showing the importance of foreign affairs.

The Crimean War began under the Earl of Aberdeen who was Prime Minister between 1852 and 1855; it ended under Palmerston who replaced Aberdeen when the latter's ministry was brought down by a vote of 'No Confidence' in 1855.

The Crimean War was the first war involving European nations since 1815: the aims of the peacemakers at the Congress of Vienna, to maintain a peace for at least 25 years, had been more than met. However, in terms of British history, during the entire period of Victoria's reign (1837-1901) there was not a single year in which the British army was not fighting someone, somewhere in the world.

The Powers involved in the Crimean War were, on one side

On the other side, opposing these powers, was Russia.

The Austro-Hungarian empire, ruled by the 24-year-old Franz-Joseph, who had succeeded to the throne in 1848, was called upon by both sides to help. The Emperor decided to stay neutral rather than offend either side and also in an effort to maintain friendly diplomatic relationships with all the powers. Austria-Hungary dared not get involved in the east because she feared Prussian expansion under Bismarck in the west. Austria-Hungary ended up diplomatically isolated, with no friends. Russia expected Austrian help after the help that the Russians had given to Austria-Hungary during the 1848 Hungarian revolt; Britain and France expected Austrian help to contain Russian expansion. However, because of Austria-Hungary's neutrality during the Crimean War, no-one would help her when she had problems firstly in 1861, with Italian Unification: with French help for Cavour, Austria-Hungary lost her Italian lands. Ten years later, in 1871, Austria-Hungary lost her hold over the Germanic Confederation and had a new, strong northern neighbour under Kaiser Wilhelm and Bismarck.

Austrian neutrality between 1854 and 1856, from which she emerged isolated, was the key to European history for the next 100 years. It sowed the seeds of the First and Second World Wars.

Meet the web creator

These materials may be freely used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with applicable statutory allowances and distribution to students.
Re-publication in any form is subject to written permission.

Last modified 12 January, 2016

The Age of George III Home Page

Ministerial Instability 1760-70

Lord North's Ministry 1770-82

American Affairs 1760-83

The period of peace 1783-92

The Age of the French Wars 1792-1815 Irish Affairs 1760-89

Peel Web Home Page

Tory Governments 1812-30

Political Organisations in the Age of Peel

Economic Affairs in the Age of Peel

Popular Movements in the Age of Peel

Irish Affairs
Primary sources index British Political Personalities British Foreign policy 1815-65 European history
index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind