Follow the events of the Crimean War with our timeline:



The Ottoman empire’s rule over Greece comes to an end following the Greek War of Independence, serving to highlight the once-mighty empire’s decline.


The Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29 ends in Russian protection of the Ottoman-held Danubian Principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia) in the Balkans. The Treaty of Edirne also grants Russia access to shipping through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits.

September 1833

Russia’s Tsar Nicholas I labels the Ottoman empire the “sick man of Europe” while meeting with Prince Metternich of Austria.


French president Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III) lobbies the Ottoman empire to recognise France as the protector of Christian monks and pilgrims in Jerusalem. In response, Nicholas I insists that Russia be named protector of the city’s Holy Places and of all Orthodox Christians across the Ottoman empire.

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Charles-Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte.
Charles-Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. (Picture by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

February 1853

On a mission to Constantinople, Russia’s Prince Menshikov echoes Nicholas I’s earlier demands, again calling for a Russian protectorate over the Ottoman empire’s 12 million Orthodox Christians.

July 1853

Russia occupies the Ottoman-held Danubian Principalities, threatening Austria’s economic lifeline along the Danube.

4 October 1853

The Ottoman empire declares war on Russia, leading to the conflict’s first battle at Olteniţa, Wallachia, exactly one month later.

30 November 1853

The Russian Black Sea fleet obliterates 15 Ottoman warships anchored in the harbour at Sinop, northern Anatolia, killing nearly 3,000 Turks.

It was a precursor to the Crimean War (1854-1856). (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)" classes=""] The Battle of Sinop, Oil on canvas, by Ivan Ajvazovskij (Picture by Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

28 March 1854

Britain and France declare war on Russia after their ultimatum demanding that Russia withdraws its forces from the Danubian Principalities expires. The British and French, along with the Ottomans, will later become collectively known as the allies.

August 1854

Anglo-French supremacy over the Baltic Sea is secured following the destruction of the Bomarsund fortress in Åland. Austria occupies the Danubian Principalities after Russia’s withdrawal, as Nicholas I seeks to avoid Vienna formally joining the conflict.

14 September 1854

Allied forces begin landing along the beaches of Kalamita Bay on the Crimean Peninsula’s western shore. Preparations are soon underway to besiege the main Russian port of Sevastopol, some 30 miles south of the allied camp.

20 September 1854

Russia loses the battle of the Alma, leading to the start of the allied siege of Sevastopol on 17 October.

Battle of Alma, the victory of Franco-British troops over the Russians.
Battle of Alma, the victory of Franco-British troops over the Russians. (Picture by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

25 October 1854

The battle of Balaclava ends with the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade, during which 110 British men are killed and about 130 wounded.

4 November 1854

Florence Nightingale and 38 fellow nurses from Britain arrive at the Barrack Hospital in Scutari (a district of Constantinople) and later begin caring for injured troops brought in from the battles of Balaclava and Inkerman, amid squalid conditions.

26 January 1855

The Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont, keen to gain Britain and France’s support for the cause of Italian unification, joins the war on the allied side and sends an expeditionary force of 15,000 troops to the Crimea.

March 1855

Nurse Mary Seacole arrives in Constantinople and proceeds to the Crimea, where she founds the British Hotel for convalescing soldiers.

2 March 1855

Nicholas I dies in St Petersburg and is succeeded by his son, Alexander II, as Russian tsar.

Nicholas I on his deathbed.
Nicholas I on his deathbed. (Picture by Ann Ronan Picture Library/Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

9 August 1855

Sveaborg, a major Russian fortress off Helsinki, is destroyed by an Anglo-French fleet, leaving the naval base of Kronstadt – and thus St Petersburg – vulnerable to allied attacks.

8–11 September 1855

The French capture the Malakoff fortification near Sevastopol and the Russians abandon the city. The siege ends on 11 September.

29 January 1856

The Victoria Cross is instituted as the highest award in the British honours system. The medals, the first of which are awarded to 111 veterans of the Crimean War, are alleged to have been cast from Russian cannons captured at Sevastopol.

1 February 1856

Faced with the prospect of Austria joining the war on the side of the allies, Alexander II accepts preliminary peace terms to bring the conflict to an end.

Alexander II of Russia, circa 1856. He visited Victoria in 1839 before becoming tsar. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Alexander II of Russia, circa 1856. (Picture by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

30 March 1856

The Treaty of Paris concludes hostilities after a five-day peace conference. Russia cedes Southern Bessarabia (at the mouth of the Danube), the Black Sea is demilitarised, and the Danube is opened to international shipping.

3 Mar 1861

Serfdom is abolished across the Russian empire, the Crimean War having exposed a dire need for social reforms.

April 1877–March 1878

The Russians and Ottomans fight another war amid rising nationalist tensions across the Balkans and attempts by Russia to recover their lost territory. Romania and several other states become independent nations following the Ottoman empire’s defeat in 1878.

Want to find out more? Read our ultimate guide to the Crimean War


This article was first published in the January 2023 issue of BBC History Revealed


Danny BirdStaff Writer, BBC History Magazine

Danny Bird is the Staff Writer at BBC History Magazine. Danny Bird is the Staff Writer at BBC History Magazine and previously held the same role on BBC History Revealed. He joined the brand in 2022. Fascinated with the past since childhood, Danny completed his History BA at the University of Sheffield, developing a special interest in the Spanish Civil War and the Paris Commune. He subsequently gained his History MA from University College London, studying at its School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)