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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Late in May he left Constantinople


[Sidenote:

International concern]

The traditional aspirations of Russia toward Constantinople were well understood in Europe. With the exception of Prussia, the European Powers, contrary to the Czar's expectations, were resolved to preserve the integrity of Turkey.

[Sidenote: Austria's timely measures]

[Sidenote: Menzikov's mission]

[Sidenote: French-English naval demonstration]

The Continental Powers diplomatically met the Czar on his own religious ground. Protestant England, on the other hand, with no pilgrims to defend, could protest only on the score of preserving the balance of power. A deeper reason for British opposition lay in the possible opening of the Black Sea to Russian commerce, and the consequent loss of oriental trade to English merchants. Louis Napoleon, who could hardly begin his imperial reign in France more auspiciously than by avenging the disasters of his immortal uncle and of the Grand Army in Russia, entered the lists as the champion of the Roman Catholic Christians of the Orient. Austria, though she took no active part against her recent ally, ingeniously frustrated the plans of the Russian autocrat by bringing the Sultan to terms in his attempt to crush the insurgent Montenegrins, who had been incited by Russia to revolt. Thus was Nicholas robbed of his best pretext for impressing his will

upon Turkey. Chagrined at the triumph of Austria, angered by the demands made by the French Ambassador, Marquis de Lavalette, in behalf of Roman Catholic pilgrims, Nicholas sent his Admiral, Prince Menzikov, as Ambassador Extraordinary to the Porte. With unusual ostentation Menzikov gathered the Russian fleet and an army of 30,000 men at Sebastopol, and then went alone to Constantinople. He demanded an audience of the Sultan, and on March 2 appeared before him in a plain overcoat and with boots covered with dust. His appearance was in keeping with his mission. In the name of his master he demanded the protectorate over all Greek Christians. Failing to attain his end, Menzikov, after a six weeks' stay, delivered a Russian ultimatum. Late in May he left Constantinople, prophesying his speedy reappearance in uniform. Three weeks later the French and English fleets cast anchor in the entrance to the Dardanelles.

[Sidenote: Russians cross Pruth]

[Sidenote: Cossacks in Danube provinces]

It was not to be expected that a ruler like Nicholas would shrink from war. On July 7, he despatched Prince Michael Gortschakov, together with two army divisions of 40,000 men each, respectively commanded by Generals Lueders and Danneberg, across the Pruth, with orders to hold the Danube principalities until the Sultan had granted the Russian demands. Sultan Abdul Majid, through his grand vizier, Reschid Pasha, issued a firman recognizing the rights of his Christian subjects. Upon crossing the Pruth, the Russian Commander-in-Chief assured the people of Moldavia and Wallachia that their property and persons would not be molested; but the Russian soldiers seized the public funds, compelled peasants to give up their cattle and their grain, and pressed the native militia into the Czar's service.

[Sidenote: Turkish ultimatum]

[Sidenote: Russia declares war]

[Sidenote: Oltenizza]


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