Declaration of War - 28 March 1854 
Declaration of War - 28 March 1854 


The Royal NavyThe ’Crimean' War  

The formal Declaration of War against the Emperor of Russia was published in a Supplement to the London Gazette of 28 March 1854 (issue 21536, page 1007-1008)


SUPPLEMENT
TO
The London Gazette
Of TUESDAY the 28th of MARCH.
Published by Authority.
TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 1854.


DECLARATION.

IT is with deep regret that Her Majesty announces the failure of Her anxious and protracted endeavours to preserve for Her People and for Europe the blessings of peace. Her Majesty, in justification of the course she is about to pursue, refers to the transactions in which Her Majesty has been engaged.
The Emperor of Russia had some cause of complaint against the Sultan with reference to the settlement, which His Highness had sanctioned, of the conflicting claims of the Greek and Latin Churches to a portion of the Holy Places of Jerusalem and its neighbourhood. To the complaint of the Emperor of Russia on this head, justice was done; and Her Majesty’s Ambassador at Constantinople had the satisfaction of promoting an arrangement to which no exception was taken by the Russian Government.
But while the Russian Government repeatedly assured the Government of Her Majesty that the Mission of Prince Menchikoff to Constantinople was exclusively directed to the settlement of the question of the Holy Places at Jerusalem, Prince Menchikoff himself pressed upon the Porte other demands of a far more serious and important character, the nature of which he in the first instance endeavoured, as far as possible, to conceal from Her Majesty’s Ambassador. And these demands, thus studiously concealed, affected not the privileges of the Greek Church at Jerusalem, but the position of many millions of Turkish subjects in their relations to their Sovereign the Sultan.
These demands were rejected by the spontaneous decision of the Sublime Porte.
Two assurances had been given to Her Majesty; one, that the Mission of Prince Menchikoff only regarded the Holy Places; the other, that his Mission would be of a conciliatory character.
In both respects Her Majesty’s just expectations were disappointed.
Demands were made which, in the opinion of the Sultan, extended to the substitution of the Emperor of Russia’s authority for his own, over a large portion of his subjects; and those demands were enforced by a threat; and when Her Majesty learnt that, on announcing the termination of his Mission, Prince Menchikoff declared that the refusal of his demands would impose upon the Imperial Government the necessity of seeking a guarantee by its own power, Her Majesty thought proper that Her Fleet should leave Malta, and, in co-operation with that of His Majesty the Emperor of the French, take up its station in the neighbourhood of the Dardanelles.
So long as the negotiation bore an amicable character Her Majesty refrained from any demonstration of force. But when, in addition to the assemblage of large military forces on the frontier of Turkey, the Ambassador of Russia intimated that serious consequences would ensue from the refusal of the Sultan to comply with unwarrantable demands, Her Majesty deemed it right, in conjunction with the Emperor of the French, to give an unquestionable proof of Her determination to support the Sovereign rights of the Sultan.
The Russian Government has maintained that the determination of the Emperor to occupy the Principalities was taken in consequence of the advance of the Fleets of England and France. But the menace of invasion of the Turkish territory was conveyed in Count Nesselrode’s Note to Rechid Pacha, of the 19/31 May, and re-stated in his Despatch to Baron Brunnow, of the 20 May/1 June, which announced the determination of the Emperor of Russia to order his troops to occupy the Principalities, if the Porte did not within a week comply with the demands of Russia.
The Despatch to Her Majesty’s Ambassador, at Constantinople, authorizing him in certain specified contingencies to send for the British Fleet, was dated the 31st May, and the order sent direct from England to Her Majesty’s Admiral to proceed to the neighbourhood of the Dardanelles, was dated the 2nd of June.
The determination to occupy the Principalities was therefore taken before the orders for the advance of the combined squadrons were given.
The Sultan’s Minister was informed that unless he signed within a week, and without the change of a word, the Note proposed to the Porte by Prince Menchikoff, on the eve of his departure from Constantinople, the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia would be occupied by Russian Troops. The Sultan could not accede to so insulting a demand; but when the actual occupation of the Principalities took place, the Saltan did not, as he might have done in the exercise of his undoubted right, declare, war, but addressed a Protest to his Allies.
Her Majesty, in conjunction with the Sovereigns of Austria, France, and Prussia, has made various attempts to meet any just demands of the Emperor of Russia without affecting the dignity and independence of the Sultan; and had it been the sole object of Russia to obtain security for the enjoyment by the Christian subjects of the Porte of their privileges and immunities, she would have found it in the offers that have been made by the Sultan. But as that security was not offered in the shape of a special and separate stipulation with Russia, it was rejected. Twice has this offer been made by the Sultan, and recommended by the Four Powers, once by a note originally prepared at Vienna, and subsequently modified by the Forte, once by the proposal of bases of negotiation agreed upon at Constantinople on the 31st of December, and approved at Vienna on the 13th of January, as offering to the two parties the means of arriving at an Understanding in a becoming and honourable manner.
It is thus manifest that a right for Russia to interfere in the ordinary relations of Turkish subjects to their Sovereign, and not the happiness of Christian communities in Turkey, was the object sought for by the Russian Government; to such a demand the Sultan would not submit, and His Highness, in self-defence, declared war upon Russia, but Her Majesty nevertheless, in conjunction with Her Allies, has not ceased her endeavours to restore peace between the contending parties.
The time has however now arrived when the advice and remonstrances of the Four Powers having proved wholly ineffectual, and the military preparations of Russia becoming daily more extended, it is but too obvious that the Emperor of Russia has entered upon a course of policy which, if unchecked, must lead to the destruction of the Ottoman Empire.
In this conjuncture, Her Majesty feels called upon by regard for an Ally, the integrity and independence of whose empire have been recognized as essential to the peace of Europe, by the sympathies of Her people with right against wrong, by a desire to avert from Her dominions most injurious consequences, and to save Europe from the preponderance of a Power which has violated the faith of Treaties, and defies the opinion of the civilized world, to take up arms in conjunction with the Emperor of the French, for the defence of the Sultan.
Her Majesty is persuaded that in so acting she will have the cordial support of Her people; and that the pretext of zeal for the Christian religion will be used in vain to cover an aggression undertaken in disregard of its holy precepts, and of its pure and beneficent spirit.
Her Majesty humbly trusts that Her efforts may be successful, and that, by the blessing of Providence, peace may be re-established on safe and solid foundations.
Westminster, March 28, 1854.


DECLARATION.

HER Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, having been compelled to take up arms in support of an Ally, is desirous of rendering the war as little onerous as possible to the Powers with whom she remains at peace.
To preserve the commerce of neutrals from all unnecessary obstruction, Her Majesty is willing, for the present, to waive a part of the belligerent rights appertaining to Her by the law of nations.
It is impossible for Her Majesty to forego the exercise of her right of seizing articles contraband of war, and of preventing neutrals from bearing the enemy's despatches, and she must maintain the right of a belligerent to prevent neutrals from breaking any effective blockade which may be established with an adequate force against the enemy’s forts, harbours, or coasts.
But Her Majesty will waive the right of seizing enemy’s property laden on board a neutral vessel, unless it be contraband of war.
It is not Her Majesty’s intention to. claim the confiscation of neutral property, not being contraband of war, found on board enemy’s ships, and Her Majesty further declares, that being anxious to lesser, as much as possible the evils of war, and to restrict its operations to the regularly organized forces of the country, it is not her present intention to issue letters of marque for the commissioning of privateers.
Westmiinster, March 28, 1854.




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