Nikolai Pavlovich, despite Palmerston’s tough policies, still tried to achieve a diplomatic agreement between Russia and England on the “sick person." By the time 1841 approached the year, when the expiration date of the Unkjar-Iskelesiysky Treaty came, there were two ways ahead of Petersburg — to seek an agreement for a new term, or to withdraw from the contract, receiving diplomatic compensation. In 1839, the throne in the Ottoman Empire was occupied by Abdul-Mejid I. It was a weak young man who was under the full influence of the British ambassador in Constantinople. His word could not be relied upon. In addition, Britain and France put pressure on the sultan, and although the conflict between Turkey and Egypt continued, the European powers supported Constantinople.
Then Nikolay declared that he would give up the Unkar-Iskelesi Treaty if the conference of European powers guarantees the closure of the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits for warships of all countries, and if an agreement is reached limiting the seizures of the governor of Egypt, Mohammed Ali. The Russian emperor knew that the French were patronizing and even helping the Egyptian pasha in his captures, planning to get Egypt and Syria into their sphere of influence. This did not suit England. Therefore, London supported the venture of St. Petersburg.
24 June 1839, the son of Mohammed Ali Ibrahim Pasha defeated the Turkish army. The Turkish fleet went over to the side of Muhammad Ali and sailed to Alexandria. However, this time the European coalition opposed Egypt. Having overcome numerous disputes, Great Britain, Russia, France, Austria and Prussia, entered against the Egyptian conquests. Turkish troops supported the Anglo-Austrian forces. The troops of Muhammad Ali suffered a series of defeats, and he refused to capture. Egypt remained part of the Ottoman Empire, lost all conquests, but Muhammad Ali received Egypt in hereditary possession, it was fixed and for his heirs.
In July, 1840, Russia, England, Austria and Prussia concluded an agreement between themselves, which guaranteed the integrity of Turkey. The straits were closed for the passage of warships. The “ancient rule” of the Ottoman Empire was restored, according to which the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles were declared in peacetime closed to warships of all states. Sultan could miss only light warships, which were at the disposal of the embassies of friendly countries. France was dissatisfied with this agreement, they even talked about the war with England, but a year later she was forced to accede to it (London Convention on the Straits 1841 of the Year).
Nikolai was pleased, he considered that he had driven a strong wedge between England and France. In addition, the government in England changed: the liberal (Whig) of Lord Melborn to the conservative (Tory) of Robert Peel (head of government in 1841-1846). George Eberdin (Aberdeen) became the foreign minister instead of Russophobe Palmerston. Peel and Eberdin, being in opposition, did not approve of Palmerston’s aggressive policy towards Russia. In addition, Eberdin was at one time an active supporter of D. Canning, who prepared a joint statement by Russia and Britain against Turkey in the liberation of Greece, and was considered a "friend of Russia." The Russian ambassador in London, Brunov, considered Eberdin created for Russian virtues, so strong was his belief in this politician (this naive faith would be destroyed in the 1854 year, when the government of Eberdin declared war on Russia). This gave grounds for Emperor Nicholas to hope for a successful outcome of negotiations with London. He planned a trip to England to conclude a direct agreement on the division of the Ottoman Empire.
The trip was made only in 1844 year. At this point, the British wanted to get support in the fight against French intrigues in North Africa. The French seized Algeria and were selected to Morocco. Nicholas wanted to probe the ground for an agreement on Turkey. The Russian emperor was in England from May 31 to June 9 1844. The English Queen Victoria, the court, the aristocracy and the upper bourgeoisie received the Russian emperor well and competed in courtesies.
Nikolay wanted to make an alliance with England, directed against France and Turkey, or at least an agreement on the possible division of the Ottoman Empire. One of the days of her stay in England, the emperor began a conversation with Eberdeen about the future of Turkey. According to Baron Shkokmar, a trusted adviser to Queen Victoria, Nikolai said: “Turkey is a dying person. We may strive to save her life, but we will not succeed. She must die and she will die. This will be a critical moment ... ". Russia will be forced to take military measures, and Austria will do that. Many in Africa, in the East and the Mediterranean will want France. England will not stay aside. The king raised the question of the future of Turkey in a conversation with R. Pil. The head of the English government hinted at the fact that London sees in its share - Egypt. According to him, England will never allow a strong government in Egypt that can close trade routes to the British. In general, the British showed interest in the proposal of Nicholas. In the future, the question of Turkey was raised again. But it was not possible to agree on anything concrete. Nicholas had to postpone the Turkish question.
The British thoroughly tested Nikolai’s plans for the future of the Middle East, gave hope, but did not make any agreements. London was going to get Egypt, but the British were not going to cede any land to Russia. The British, on the contrary, dreamed of taking away from Russia what it had previously conquered - the Black Sea and Caucasian territories, the Crimea, Poland, the Baltic states and Finland. In addition, with regard to the same Turkey, Britain had its own plans, which went much further than the plans of St. Petersburg. At the same time, the Russian-English negotiations of the 1844 year were to besiege France, which strengthened its position in the Middle East.
The British could not make an alliance with Russia, since this violated their strategic interests. Unfortunately, in Russia they did not understand this. Considering that the whole thing is about personalities, and if you cannot agree with one, you can find a common language with another minister. Information about the consequences of the Russian protectionist tariff, which interfered with the sale of British goods not only in Russia, but also in many regions of Asia, was coming to London. The British consuls in Constantinople, Trabzon and Odessa reported on the success of the development of Russian trade in the Black Sea region. Russia was becoming a serious economic rival for Britain in Turkey and Persia. It was impossible to give Russia a boost at the expense of the Ottoman possessions, because this further strengthened its position in the South. The sharing of Turkey with the participation of Russia was inadmissible. Russia was closer to Turkey geographically and had the best military capabilities. The beginning of the division could lead to the complete seizure by Russia of the Balkan (European), Caucasian Turkish possessions and straits. In the future, Russia could lay claim to most of Asia Minor (Anatolia), promote its interests in Persia and India.
In 1848, the revolutionary wave again arose in Europe. In France, King Louis-Philippe abdicated the throne and fled to Britain. France was proclaimed a republic (Second Republic). The unrest also encompassed the Italian and German states, Austria, in which the national movements of the Italians, Hungarians, Czechs and Croats became more active.
Nikolai Pavlovich was delighted with the fall of Louis-Philippe, whom he considered a "usurper" to be enthroned by the 1830 revolution of the year. However, he was not pleased with the March revolution in Austria, the situation in the states of the German Union, Prussia. The Almighty Metternich was dismissed and fled from Vienna. In Austria, censorship was abolished, the National Guard was created, and Emperor Ferdinand I proclaimed the convocation of a constitutional assembly to adopt a constitution. A rebellion broke out in Milan and Venice, the Austrians left Lombardy, the Austrian troops were also expelled by the rebels from Parma and Modena. The Sardinian kingdom declared war on Austria. The uprising began in the Czech Republic, the Czechs proposed to transform the Austrian Empire into a federation of equal nations while maintaining the unity of the state. The revolution was actively developed in Hungary. The first all-German parliament, the Frankfurt National Assembly, raised the question of German unification on the basis of a common constitution. The revolution was approaching the borders of the Russian Empire.
Soon, however, conservative forces began to take up. In France, the Minister of War, General Louis-Eugène Cavaignac, drowned the June 23-26 uprising of June 1848 in blood. The situation in the state has stabilized. In Austria, they were able to bring down the first wave of the revolution, but in Hungary the situation became critical. The Austrian emperor humiliatedly begged Russia to help against the Hungarian revolution. The Russian army crushed the Hungarian rebels with a swift campaign.
This quick and crushing victory of Russia was a strategic mistake of St. Petersburg. First, it showed Western Europe the power of the Russian army, triggering a wave of fear and Russophobia. For revolutionaries and liberals of all shades, the most hated ruler of Europe was the Russian emperor Nikolai Pavlovich. When the Russian army crushed the Hungarian uprising in the summer of 1848, Nicholas I appeared before Europe in an aura of such grim and tremendous power that fear gripped not only revolutionaries and liberals, but some conservatives. Russia has become a kind of "gendarme of Europe." This fear, which was specially warmed up, conjured up a picture of the future “Russian invasion”, which, like the invasion of Atilla's troops, represented, with the new migration of peoples, “the destruction of the old civilization”. The “wild Cossacks” who were to destroy European civilization were the epitome of horror for educated Europeans. In Europe, it was believed that Russia possesses "overwhelming military power."
Secondly, it was in vain that the lives of Russian soldiers were paying for the mistakes of Vienna, this war was not in the national interests of Russia. Thirdly, in the national interests of Russia was the destruction of the Austrian empire (the “sick man” of Europe), to Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the liberation of the Italian and Slavic regions. Instead of one strong competitor in the Balkan Peninsula, we would get several states hostile to each other. Fourthly, in Petersburg they thought that in Vienna they would be grateful for this Russian act and Austria would be an ally of Russia in the Balkans. Nicholas believed that in the face of Austria he received a reliable ally in case of complications in the Middle East. Interference in the face of Metternich was eliminated. Within a few years, these illusions will be brutally destroyed.
Emperor Nicholas confesses to this huge mistake in 1854. In a conversation with a native of Poland, Adjutant General Rzhevussky, he asked him: “Who of the Polish kings, in your opinion, was the most stupid?” Rzhevussky did not expect such a question and could not answer. “I will tell you,” continued the Russian emperor, “that the stupidest Polish king was Jan Sobessky because he freed Vienna from the Turks. And the stupidest of Russian sovereigns is me, because I helped the Austrians put down the Hungarian insurgency. ”
Nicholas was calm and for the north-western flank - Prussia. Frederick William IV (reigned in 1840 of the year - 1861) in the first years of his reign was strongly influenced by Nicholas, who took care of and taught him. The Prussian king was a clever man, but impressionable (he was called a romantic on the throne) and acting stupidly in practice. Russia personified for Prussia protection against revolutionary trends from France.
1849 incident of the year. More than a thousand Hungarians and Poles, participants of the Hungarian revolution, hid in the Ottoman Empire. Some of them were members of the Polish uprising 1830-1831. Many entered military service to the Turks, these were commanders who had great combat experience, they strengthened the military potential of Turkey. The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry sent a note to Porte demanding their issuance. At the same time, Nikolai sent a letter to Sultan Abdul-Mejid I with the same demand. Austria supported this demand. The Turkish Sultan sought advice from the British and French ambassadors, both strongly advised to refuse. The English and French squadrons defiantly approached the Dardanelles. Turkey has not betrayed revolutionaries. Neither Russia nor Austria were going to fight, the extradition case ended in nothing. In Turkey, this event was regarded as a great victory over the Russians. This incident was used in Constantinople, Paris and London for the anti-Russian campaign.
Conflict with France. December 2 1851 in France, a coup d'état took place. By the decree of the President of the Republic, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I's nephew), the Legislative Assembly was dissolved, the majority of its deputies were arrested by the police. The uprising in Paris was brutally suppressed. All power was in the hands of Louis Napoleon. A year later he was proclaimed emperor of the French under the name of Napoleon III.
Nicholas I was delighted with the coup d'état in France. But he categorically did not like the fact that Louis Napoleon laid the imperial crown on himself. The European powers immediately recognized the new empire, which was a surprise for St. Petersburg. The Russian emperor did not want to recognize the title of emperor for Napoleon, a dispute arose about speech ("good friend" or "dear brother"). Nikolai expected Prussia and Austria to support him, but he was mistaken. Russia found itself in an isolated position, having acquired the enemy, from scratch. Emperor Nicholas at the Christmas military parade in December 1852 of the year, realizing that he had been deceived (information came out from Austria and Prussia through diplomatic channels that they would support Nicholas’s decision), directly told the Prussian ambassador von Rohov and the Austrian - von Mensdorf that his allies " deceived and deserted. "
The offense of Napoleon III gave impetus to France to consider Russia an enemy. The December 2 coup 1851 didn’t make Louis Napoleon’s position stable. Many in the entourage of the new monarch believed that the “revolution” was only driven underground, a new uprising was possible. A successful military campaign was needed, which would unite society around the monarch, tie the command staff of the army to it, cover the glory of glory with the new empire and strengthen the dynasty. Of course, for this to happen, the war had to be victorious. Needed allies.
The question of "holy places." The question that could unite Europe in front of the “Russian threat” was an Eastern one. Back in 1850, Prince Louis-Napoleon, wanting to win over the sympathies of the Catholic clergy, decided to raise the issue of restoring France as the patron saint of the Catholic church in the Ottoman Empire. 28 May 1850, the French ambassador to Constantinople, General Opik, demanded from the Sultan the Catholic rights of the Catholics guaranteed by the old treaties both in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem. The Russian embassy opposed such a move, defending the exclusive right of the Orthodox.
The question of holy places quickly acquired a political character, there was a struggle between Russia and France in the Ottoman Empire. In fact, the dispute did not go because of the right to pray in these churches, no one forbade either Catholics or Orthodox, but the matter consisted in minor, in essence, old legal disputes of the Greek clergy with the Catholic. For example, on the question of who will repair the roof of the dome in the Jerusalem temple, who will own the keys to the Bethlehem temple (it was not locked with these keys), what star to install in the Bethlehem cave: Catholic or Orthodox, etc. Pettiness and emptiness of similar the disputes, even from a purely religious point of view, were so obvious that the top hierarchs of both churches were rather indifferent to this dispute. Pope Pius IX showed complete indifference to this "problem"; Moscow Metropolitan Philaret did not show any interest in the matter either.
For two whole years from May 1851 to May 1853, French ambassadors to Constantinople Lavalette (appointed in place of Opeck) and replacing him in February 1853, Lakur occupied Western Europe for this ecclesiastical and archaeological history. 18 May 1851, barely arriving in Constantinople, Lavalette handed the letter to Louis-Napoleon to the Sultan. The head of France categorically insisted on the observance of all the rights and advantages of the Catholic Church in Jerusalem. The letter was clearly hostile to the Orthodox Church. Louis Napoleon insisted that the rights of the Roman church to the "Holy Sepulcher" were based on the fact that the Crusaders had conquered Jerusalem as early as the 11th century. To this, the Russian ambassador, Titov, responded with a special memorandum transmitted to the grand vizier. It said that even long before the crusades Jerusalem belonged to the Eastern (Orthodox) Church, as it was part of the Byzantine Empire. The Russian ambassador put forward another argument - in 1808, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was badly damaged by fire, it was restored by Orthodox donations.
The French ambassador suggested to the sultan that it was more profitable to recognize the justice of France’s claims as Turkey, since Petersburg’s claims are more dangerous. 5 July 1851, the Turkish government officially informed Lavalette that the sultan is ready to confirm all the rights that France has in the “holy places” under previous agreements. Lavalette “dug out” the most beneficial agreement for the French from 1740 of the year. Petersburg immediately replied, recalling the Kyuchuk-Kaynardzhskom peace treaty 1774 of the year. Under this treaty, the privileges of the Orthodox Church in the “holy places” were indisputable.
Russian emperor Nikolay decided to use the dispute about “holy places” in order to begin a radical revision of Russian-Turkish relations. In his opinion, the moment was favorable. Nikolai sent Prince Gagarin to Istanbul with a message to the Sultan. Sultan Abdul-Mejid was confused. The case became serious. In Europe, they have already started talking about the confrontation between France and Russia, Nicholas and Louis-Napoleon. The provocation from Paris was a success. The question of "repairing the roof" and "keys to the temple" was decided at the level of imperial ministers and emperors. French Minister Douin de Luis persisted, argued that the French Empire could not give way in this matter, as this is a grave damage to the cause of Catholicism and to the honor of France.
At this time in Russia in military circles the issue of the capture of Constantinople was being worked out. It was concluded that the capture of the city and the straits is possible only with a sudden attack. Preparation of the Black Sea fleet to the landing operation will quickly become known to the British. From Odessa, news takes two days to Constantinople, from there - 3-4 days to Malta, the British base. The Russian fleet, appearing at the Bosphorus, would meet the resistance not only of the Ottomans, but also of the English fleet, and possibly the French. The only way to take Constantinople was to send the fleet in "normal", peacetime, without raising suspicion. In the summer of 1853, an airborne detachment was trained in the Crimea, numbering about 18 thousand people with 32 guns.
Last attempt to negotiate with England
It seemed to Nicholas, in order to resolve the issue with Turkey, it was necessary to reach an agreement with England. Austria and Prussia seemed loyal allies. France alone will not risk starting a struggle, especially in conditions of internal instability. It was necessary to negotiate with England. Nikolai again raised the topic of a “sick person”, already in conversation with the British ambassador Hamilton Seymour 9 January 1853. He offered to make an agreement. Constantinople was supposed to be a kind of neutral territory, not belonging to Russia, nor to England, nor to France, nor to Greece. The Danube principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia), already under the protector of Russia, as well as Serbia and Bulgaria, retreated into the Russian sphere of influence. England was offered in the distribution of the Ottoman inheritance to get Egypt and Crete.
Nikolai repeated this proposal at subsequent meetings with the British ambassador, in January-February, 1853. However, this time the British were attentive, but showed no interest. The offer of St. Petersburg met in London immediately hostile reception. Already 9 February 1853 of the year was followed by a secret dispatch of the English Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs John Rossel to Ambassador Seymour in Russia. The UK response was categorically negative. Since that time, the question of war was finally resolved.
England was not going to divide Turkey with Russia. As already noted, the geographical position of Russia and its land military might made the division of the Ottoman Empire dangerous for England. The transfer of control of the Russian Empire to the Danube principalities, Serbia and Bulgaria, even temporary control over the straits (which guaranteed Russia's invulnerability in the Black Sea region), could provoke a complete seizure of Turkey. The British thought it was quite logical, they would have acted in this way. By taking Asia Minor from the Caucasus to the Bosphorus, ensuring a strong rear in the Caucasus and the Balkans, where Moldavia, Wallachia, Serbia and Montenegro would become Russian provinces, Petersburg could easily send several divisions in a southerly direction and reach the southern seas. Persia could easily be subjugated to Russian influence, and then the road opened up to India, where there were many dissatisfied with British rule. The loss of India to Britain meant the collapse of its global designs. In this scenario, even if Russia had given England not only Egypt, but also Palestine, Syria (and this is a conflict with France), Mesopotamia, strategic superiority was behind the Russians. Possessing a powerful land army, Russia, if desired, could take the British from their possessions. Given all this, London, not only refuses the proposal of Nicholas, but also takes a course on war with Russia.