Europe 1854: Outbreak of the Crimean War
In 1853, Russia occupied the Ottoman vassal states of Moldavia and Wallachia. After the Russians refused an ultimatum to withdraw, the Turks declared war, but quickly lost control of the Black Sea when the Russians defeated their navy at Sinop. Unable to accept Russian dominance over the Ottoman Empire, France and Britain formed an alliance and entered the war a few months later.
3 Jul 1853 Russia invasion of Danubian Principalities▲
In 1852 tensions grew between Napoleon III of the French Empire, Nicholas I of the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire over contradictory 18th century claims by France and Russia to protect the Christians of Ottoman Palestine. When the Ottomans caved in favor of the French claim in December, the outraged Russians began amassing forces on the border of the Ottoman vassal state of Moldavia in an attempt to pressure the Ottomans into reconsidering. As the Ottomans, encouraged by assurances of support from Britain, would only partially agree to their demands, on 3 July 1853 the 80,000-strong Russian army crossed the River Pruth into Moldavia, beginning its invasion of the two Danubian Principalities.
16 Oct 1853 Outbreak of Crimean War▲
In response to Ottoman protests over the Russian invasion of the Danubian Principalities in July 1853, the neutral European powers—Austria, Britain, France, and Prussia—held a conference in Vienna in which they devised a compromise solution (the Vienna Note). Although the Vienna Note was acceptable to the Russians, they rejected the amendments required for Ottoman acceptance. With the two empires at an impasse, and the Russian still refusing to withdraw from the principalities, the Ottomans declared war on Russia in October 1853.
30 Nov 1853 Battle of Sinop▲
Russian warships led by Pavel Nakhimov destroyed an Ottoman naval squadron anchored in Sinop harbor, giving Russia operational control of Black Sea.
27–28 Mar 1854 Anglo-French entry into Crimean War▲
In response to the Russian attack on the Ottoman port of Sinop in November 1853, British and French squadrons entered the Black Sea to protect Ottoman shipping and ports in January 1854. The French emperor Napoleon III then issued an ultimatum demanding that Russia withdraw from the Danubian Principalities and, when the Russians refused, formally declared war on Russia on 27 March 1854. The following day Britain also declared war, bringing both nations into the Crimean War.