WE have seen something of the long struggle of the Tsardom and Turkey for Balkan territory. Turkey, whose westward progress had ceased after her defeat at Lepanto in 1571 and her failure at Vienna in 1683, could count during the nineteenth century on the support of the Conservative politicians in England. Less open than the Liberals to the sentimental and humanitarian appeal of oppressed nationalities, they cherished profound fears of Russian designs on India, the Levant, and (after 1876) the Suez Canal, and therefore were willing to condone Turkey's lapses if she would obstruct the expansion of Russia. But for England's support, the Turkish Empire would have disappeared from Europe about 1860.
Nicholas I., Tsar from 1825 to 1855, alarmed the English with his proposals for the partitioning of the property of " the sick man of Europe," as he called Turkey, and in 1852-3 the Emperor of the French picked a quarrel with Russia. There was old and bitter enmity between the Tsars and the Bona-partes. The origin of the new dispute was the rival claims of the Greek and Roman Churches, backed respectively by the Tsar and France, to guard the sacred places in Jerusalem, but it was aggravated by the claim, tantamount to that of overlordship, of the Tsar to be the protector of all Christians in the Sultan's empire. But both parties were ready to fight on any grounds, and so was England, while Sardinia presently entered for reasons of her own. It would to-day be regarded as a perfect instance of a mistaken war, but English people were almost unanimous in demanding it, and the few men who opposed it, notably John Bright, ran the risk of violent treatment.
It deserves to be remembered as the worst-managed British expedition of the last three centuries. France and England sent small armies to the Crimea-they also shelled some Baltic towns-the War Office providing neither shelter nor clothing nor food above summer field-day scale. The sufferings of the troops, principally from sickness, but also in a number of bungled battles, gave an opportunity to Florence Nightingale and other ladies to organise a nursing service, and incidentally to open a new employment to educated women.,
The terms of peace, made at Paris in 1856, were all broken within a few years, including the promises made by the Sultan to ameliorate his government, but the English object of checking Russia was gained for a time. Two outlying Turkish provinces, Moldavia and Wallachia, inhabited by Christians, were declared neutral states. They united a few years later as Rumania. The disgraces and administrative scandals of the war helped to kill the Tsar.
The new Tsar, Alexander II. (1855-81), extended his territories to the south-east and in 1861 abolished serfdom in Russia. Alexander realised the need for reform and was prepared to override obstructive nobles and officials, but lacked the vigour that such a task demanded. In 1863 he repressed a Polish revolt with ferocity, and renewed cordial relations with Prussia. Then in 1872 Bismarck went on from his triumph over France to form the famous Drei-Kaiserbund, or League of Three Emperors, between the Tsar, the new German Emperor, and his former enemy, the Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria. It placed the recently created German Empire in a position of extraordinary strength, confident in its great army, allied for defence to the two other great military powers and on very friendly terms with the naval power, England; while France had no friend in Europe. Bismarck nearly entered into another war with France in 1875, but was restrained by the Tsar.