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Causes of the Crimean War: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Would you want someone else coming into your country and telling you how you could treat different groups of people? Well, the Ottoman Empire didn't like that either, and that's how the Crimean War started. Learn all about it in this lesson.

Causes of the Crimean War

Imagine you're the king of a country. Now imagine that another king of a totally different country wants to barge in and tell you how you can treat your own people. Doesn't that sound silly? That other king should take care of his own people and let you take care of yours.

Well, that's exactly the argument that started the Crimean War. The Crimean War lasted from 1853 to 1856. To put that in context, it's a few years before the American Civil War. In the Crimean War, the Russian Empire fought against an alliance of the French Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the British Empire.

Europe during the Crimean War. The Crimean Peninsula is where the fighting happened.
Map of Europe

Tension in the Holy Land

We'll start with part of the Ottoman Empire, the Holy Land. Today, the Holy Land is the country of Israel. This part of the world is important to three different religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. For hundreds of years, members of these three religions have been fighting over who gets to control the Holy Land.

At the time of the Crimean War, the Ottoman Empire controlled the Holy Land. Most people living in the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Land were Muslims, but there were also several different groups of Christians there.

That was a problem for the French and the Russians. People in France and Russia were mostly Christians, but they came from two different groups. People in France were mostly Roman Catholics, while people in Russia were mostly Eastern Orthodox. The French wanted to control the Holy Land so they could make sure all the Roman Catholics were safe. The Russians wanted to control the Holy Land so they could make sure all the Eastern Orthodox people were safe. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire didn't want either of them butting in.

Riot in Bethlehem

In 1853, there was a riot in the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem is part of the Holy Land, and it's a very important city for all Christians. In the riots, some Orthodox monks got in a fight with some French monks. So now France and Russia were angry at each other.

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