On 30 March 1856, the Congress of Paris concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, an official declaration that the Crimean War had ended. Signatories of the Treaty of Paris included representatives of Russia on the one side, and the alliance of Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia on the other. Austria and Prussia were also represented at the Congress, although they had technically remained neutral during the conflict.

Crimea_Treaty_of_Paris_Medallion_War_Peace_Medallion_1856

A medallion issued to celebrate the end of the Crimea war and the Treaty of Paris.

Russia and the Ottoman Empire went to war in the fall of 1853 over the immediate issue of Russia’s right to protect Orthodox Christians. The longer term issues behind the war involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and Russia’s attempts to gain power at their expense. After Russia gained an early upper hand in the conflict, the Franco-British alliance entered the fray in March 1854.

The bulk of the fighting revolved around control of the Black Sea, an important commercial body of water that both empires sought to use as a military naval base. The land fighting took place largely on the Crimean Peninsula, where the Russian forces held out in their fortress at Sevastopol for over a year. The Siege of Sevastopol began in October 1854 and its conclusion eleven months later brought an effective end to the Crimean War.

Edouard_Dubufe_Congrès_de_Paris

Edouard Louis Dubufe, Congrès de Paris, 1856, Palace of Versailles.

The technical conclusion of the Crimean War, however, came with the Treaty of Paris, signed on 30 March 1856. The treaty itself was an attempt by the allied forces to formalize a protection of the Ottoman Empire, and to curb the Russian potential for expansion eastward. The territorial holdings of each empire were restored to their pre-war status. The hardest term for Russia to accept involved the ‘neutralization’ of the Black Sea, a term that restricted both empires from using the Black Sea for military purposes. While the Ottoman Empire could still access the Mediterranean for its naval needs, Russia had no other sea outlet for her navy. Although the Treaty of Paris of 1856 sought to orchestrate a long-term peace, the treaty really served to bolster nationalist sentiments, and by 1877 the Russo-Turkish War had erupted anew.