Crimean Relics

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This exhibition explores aspects of the Crimean War through items held in the BRLSI collection. Satirical cartoons from Punch magazines of the period illustrate key events and themes of the war.

  • Above: The Russian ‘bear’ embraces Turkey, centre of the Ottoman Empire. Nicholas I, the Tsar, had been speculating for some time about a partition of the Ottoman Empire. Britain and France greatly feared Russia would seize Turkey and force Christian Orthodoxy on its European neighbours.

The causes of the Crimean War (1854–1856) were complicated and varied. Russia, under Tsar Nicholas I, provoked a declaration of war by Turkey, the centre of the Ottoman Empire. Russia had occupied areas under Ottoman control in an effort to force political concessions from the Turks, particularly in regard to the governance of Orthodox Christian populations under Ottoman rule.

Russia expected support from Britain, France, Prussia, and Austria, but European fears of an expanding Russian Empire led to increasing political tension and eventually war.



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Some of these pages use Punch cartoons to illustrate a summary narrative of  the war and others address specific aspects of the conflict through the use of the BRLSI’s artefacts. Those pages featuring artefacts  are marked here with an asterisk.

1.   Introduction

2.   A Failure of Democracy

3.   Turkey Provoked

4.   War Declared

5.   The Conflict Begins

6.   On to the Crimea!

7.   Uniform Discomfort *

8.   Bombardment at Sevastopol *

9.   Battle of Balaclava *

10. Battle of Inkerman *

11. Dr T.E. Hale’s Crimean Relics *

12. Desperate Conditions *

13. Rise of the Rifles *

14. Contemporary Hand Weapons *

15. Rouen Handkerchiefs *

16. Political Crisis

17. Tchernaya and the fall of Sevastopol *

18. Peace: Reluctance and enthusiasm

19. Acknowledgements (heroes of the campaign)