Eastern Question

The "Eastern Question", in European history, encompasses the diplomatic and political problems posed by the decay of the Ottoman Empire. The expression does not apply to any one particular problem, but instead includes a variety of issues raised during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including instability in the European territories ruled by the Ottoman Empire. The Eastern Question is normally dated to 1774, when the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774) ended in defeat for the Ottomans. As the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire was believed to be imminent, the European powers engaged in a power struggle to safeguard their military, strategic and commercial interests in the Ottoman domains. Imperial Russia stood to benefit from the decline of the Ottoman Empire; on the other hand, Austria-Hungary and the United Kingdom deemed the preservation of the Empire to be in their best interests. The Eastern Question was put to rest after World War I, one of whose outcomes was the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

At the height of its power (1683), the Ottoman Empire controlled territory in the Near East and North Africa, as well as Central and Southeastern Europe. The Eastern Question emerged as the power of the Ottoman Empire began to decline during the 17th century. The Ottomans were at the height of their power in 1683, when they lost the Battle of Vienna to Austria. Peace was made much later, in 1699, with the Treaty of Karlowitz, which forced the Ottoman Empire to cede many of its Central European possessions, including Hungary. Its westward expansion arrested, the Ottoman Empire never again posed a serious threat to Austria, which became the dominant power in its region of Europe. The Eastern Question did not truly develop until the Russo-Turkish Wars of the 18th century. The first of the wars, which began in 1768, ended in 1774 with the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji. The treaty was interpreted as permitting Russia to act as the protector of Orthodox Christians under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Sultan, and established Russia as a major Black Sea power. Another Russo-Turkish conflict began in 1787. The Empress of Russia, Catherine II, entered into an alliance with the Austrian ruler, the Emperor Joseph II; the two agreed to partition the Ottoman Empire between their respective nations, thereby alarming many European powers, especially the United Kingdom, France, and Prussia. Similarly, Britain saw the containment of the Russian Empire as vital to the security of British colonial possessions in India. The UK was also concerned with the preservation of the traditional global balance of power, which would have been upset by the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Serbian revolution
Serbian revolution or Revolutionary Serbia refers to the national and social revolution of the Serbian people between 1804 and 1815, during which Serbia managed to fully emancipate from the Ottoman Empire and exist as a sovereign European nation-state, and a latter period (1815–1833),

the Ottoman Empire had become the "sick man of Europe. The Great Powers — Russia. By the 1840s. The only unresolved issue of the period was the Straits Question. This provision of the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi raised a problem known as the "Straits Question. Viscount Castlereagh. In 1841. In 1833. leaving the Ottoman Empire to his son. as Greece was granted independence by the Treaty of Constantinople in 1832. Muhammad Ali.marked by intense negotiations between Belgrade and Ottoman Empire. Russia consented to the abrogation of the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi by accepting the London Straits Convention. It was at about this time that the phrase "Eastern Question" was coined. Austria and Prussia — agreed to the reestablishment of the "ancient rule" of the Ottoman Empire. the Sultan pledged to close the Dardanelles to warships whenever Russia was at war. Greek Revolt The Eastern Question once again became a major European issue when the Greeks declared independence from the Sultan in 1821. the Great Powers agreed to compromise. The Ottoman army had been signally defeated by the forces of Muhammad Ali. however. and the Greek Revolt seemed to make an invasion even more likely. counselled the Emperor of Russia. In 1829. In 1840. there had been rumours that the Emperor of Russia sought to invade the Ottoman Empire. Russian commercial vessels were granted access to the Dardanelles. in keeping with his policy of reducing the Ottoman Sultan to a petty vassal. France. the two rulers negotiated the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi. a conflict broke out in the Ottoman Empire between the Sultan and his nominal viceroy in Egypt. Metternich. in turn. The Greek War of Independence was terminated shortly thereafter. his empire was granted additional territory along the Black Sea. the second phase (1815–1833) resulted in official recognition of a suzerain Serbian state by the Porte. The Tsar of Russia. Alexander I. The Russians undertook to protect the Empire from external attacks. In 1839 Sultan Mahmud II. Muhammad Ali Just as the Greek Revolt was coming to an end. While the first phase of the revolution (1804–1815) was in fact a war of independence. . Abd-ul-Mejid I. The British foreign minister. Another disaster followed when the entire Turkish fleet was seized by the Egyptian forces. but they failed to terminate the decline of the once great Empire. Ever since the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. not to enter the war. After the resolution of the Egyptian struggle attempts were made at internal reform." and its eventual dissolution appeared inevitable. but France still continued to support Muhammad Ali. Great Britain and Russia now intervened to prevent the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. but was granted hereditary control of Egypt. offered to form an alliance with the Sultan. Russia adopted the policy of degrading the Ottoman Empire to a mere dependency. as well as the Austrian foreign minister. in which Russia achieved the aim of securing complete dominance over the Ottomans. Robert Stewart. and the commercial rights of Russians in the Ottoman Empire were enhanced. the United Kingdom. the Emperor of Russia concluded the Treaty of Adrianople with the Sultan. Muhammad Ali agreed to make a nominal act of submission to the Sultan.

which imposed harsh terms: the Empire was to grant independence to Romania.Crimean War A new conflict was ostensibly provoked during the 1850s by an obscure religious dispute. However. which led to insurrection in the Province of Bosnia as well as in Bulgaria. In 1853. Russia once again established a fleet in the Black Sea. British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli urged Austria and Germany to ally with him against this tyrannical war aim. and Montenegro. Prince Menshikov. Alexander II. when France was crushed by Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War. Catholic and Orthodox monks had disputed possession of the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Palestine. The United Kingdom did not involve herself in the conflict. Russian warships destroyed the entire Ottoman fleet at Sinop on 30 November 1853. Russia's special privileges relating to the Danubian Principalities were transferred to the Great Powers as a group. The United Kingdom. and to cede the Dobruja and parts of Armenia to Russia. when Russia threatened to secure Constantinople. the Sultan adjudicated in favour of the French. all the Great Powers pledged to respect the independence and territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire. after Russia ignored an Anglo-French ultimatum to withdraw from the Danubian Principalities. Under treaties negotiated during the eighteenth century. on a special mission to the Porte. Shortly after the of the failure of Menshikov's diplomacy. Russia declared war on 24 April 1877. the Emperor Nicholas marched into Moldavia and Wallachia (Ottoman principalities in which Russia was acknowledged as a special guardian of the Orthodox Church). The Treaty of Paris stood until 1871. As a result. the Sultan. Under the ensuing Treaty of Paris. in the now famous Herzegovinian rebellion. the two sides made demands which the Sultan could not possibly satisfy simultaneously. Great Eastern Crisis In 1875. For several years. to grant autonomy to Bulgaria. sent a fleet to the Dardanelles. Peace negotiations began in 1856 under the Emperor Nicholas I's successor. As Russia could dominate the newly independent states. where it was joined by another fleet sent by France. Russia sued for peace through the Treaty of San Stefano. Moreover. As the United Kingdom alone could not enforce the clauses. whilst Russia was the protector of Orthodox Christians. the United Kingdom and France declared war. seeking to maintain the security of the Ottoman Empire. Serbia. France was the guardian of Roman Catholics in the Ottoman Empire. In 1854. The Black Sea clauses came at a tremendous disadvantage to Russia. despite the vehement protestations of the local Orthodox monks. During the early 1850s. which would also be paid an enormous indemnity. The destruction of the Ottoman fleet and the threat of Russian expansion alarmed both the United Kingdom and France. . The Emperor Nicholas dispatched a diplomat. to institute reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina. who stepped forth in defence of the Ottoman Empire. Whilst Prussia and several other German states united to form a powerful German Empire. her influence in Southeastern Europe was greatly increased by the Treaty of San . Russia denounced the Black Sea clauses of the treaty agreed to in 1856. for it greatly diminished the naval threat she posed to the Ottomans. the territory of Herzegovina rebelled against its ruler. however.

meanwhile. however. which secured for them access to several important economic markets. thereby resolving differences between the two countries over international affairs. Due to the insistence of the Great Powers (especially the United Kingdom). Serbia was forced to renounce her opposition to the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The United Kingdom. replacing him with the ineffective Mehmed V. which became a close German ally. a political party opposed to the absolute rule of Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II. Germany was driven not only by commercial interests. and Germany threatened to support Austria-Hungary during a war. Russia left the League of the Three Emperors. The Germans took over the re-organisation of the Ottoman military and financial system." after his levelheaded Palmerstonian approach to the Eastern Question. that is the man. Bulgaria was divided into two separate states (Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia). the positions of some of the Great Powers in relation to each other and to the Ottoman Empire began to shift. Germany also became more friendly towards the Ottoman Empire. The United Kingdom and France. who were not directly concerned by the annexation. but also by an imperialistic and militaristic rivalry with the United Kingdom. Russia. as it was feared that a single state would be susceptible to Russian domination. . could not comply. and Bosnia and Herzegovina (though still nominally within the Ottoman Empire) were transferred to Austrian control. led a rebellion against their ruler. Ottoman cessions to Russia were largely sustained. various constitutional and political reforms were instituted. Bosnian Crisis In 1908. Austria-Hungary's plans were opposed by Serbia. Distressed by the conduct of the Germans in revising the Treaty of San Stefano. Furthermore. with whom she concluded the Dual Alliance in 1879.Stefano. the Committee of Union and Progress (more commonly called the Young Turks). did not become involved. The United Kingdom also reconciled with Russia in 1907 with the Anglo-Russian Entente. In addition. who was famously described by Otto von Bismarck as "The old Jew. In the following years. agreed to the Entente Cordiale with France in 1904. These final two procedures were predominantly forced by Disraeli. Germany and the Ottoman Empire In the latter part of the nineteenth century. The pro-reform Young Turks deposed the Sultan in 1909. but the decay of the Ottoman Empire continued. they received several commercial concessions. Thus unaided. a defeat in the Russo-Japanese War had devastated her. the Ottoman island of Cyprus was given to the United Kingdom via a secret agreement made between the United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire. including permission to build the Baghdad Railway. which sought Russian assistance. the treaty was heavily revised at the Congress of Berlin so as to reduce the great advantages acquired by Russia. The Treaty of Berlin adjusted the boundaries of the newly independent states in the Ottoman Empire's favour. Germany drew closer to Austria-Hungary. in return.

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