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160 years ago today, Britain, France, The Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia declared war on Russia.

It was all about Crimea and the “Eastern Question”. Seems the Ottoman Empire was decaying, especially in the Eastern regions, you know, the ones near Russia.

Ottoman Empire

 

There had been wars and rumors of wars since the 15th century, but things really started falling apart in the 19th.

And, of course, Russia was standing by, licking her chops, waiting to cut a weak one from the herd.

When the Crimean War kicked in, it was a religious war, as many are.  Seems the Christians were being denied rights in the Holy Land, the Crusades being a total failure and all, and Catholic France was pushing the rights of the Roman church while the Ruskies were pushing the rights of the Eastern Orthodox church.

Really, other than the beards and the language, they’re hard to tell apart!

Napoleon III of France, hoping to restore the grandeur of the French Empire, wanted Catholic support, and knew he’d get it if he attacked Orthodox Russia.

Russia, greedy land muncher she’s always been, started picking away at Ottoman territory bit by bit.

So, France and her allies declared war on the largest nation on earth.

Three years later, 595,000 people were dead, a third of them Russians.

Technically, the French and their allies ‘won’ the war.  In reality, no one did.

Russia gave UP land, ports and such to the Ottoman Empire, but the Allies restored other properties to the Russians.

Every country involved in the Crimean War went into decline when it ended.

Sure, France had bragging rights as a preeminent Continental power, and England ruled the seas, but 16 years later, the whole of Europe was at it again.

The REAL loser was Austria.  On the side of Russia at the onset, the Austrian Empire switched loyalties in the middle of the war, and ended UP losing the most.

The REAL winner was Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  He wrote the Charge of The Light Brigade, and made a buck or two. And even that was based on a mistaken news report by a journalist who got his facts wrong!

Seems little has changed.

In the Crimean War, just like all wars, there is really no winner.

So, I say, we all enjoy the poem, factually correct or not!

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death,
  Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
  All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
  Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
  Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
  All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
  Noble six hundred!

Happy Friday, and make love, not war.

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