Antiqua Print Gallery Congress of Paris 1856
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Congress of Paris 1856

The Congress of Paris took place in 1856 for the purpose of making peace after the almost three year Crimean War. The Congress of Paris was a peace Conference held in Paris, France, between representatives of the great powers in Europe, which at the time were: France, Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire (known today as Turkey), Sardinia, Russia, Austria, and Prussia. They assembled soon after February 1, 1856, when Russia accepted the first set of peace terms after Austria threatened to enter the war on the side of the Allies. The Congress of Paris worked out the final terms from February 25th through March 30th. The Treaty of Paris (1856) was then signed on March 30th 1856 with Russia on one side and France, Great Britain, Ottoman Turkey, and Sardinia-Piedmont on the other. The group of men negotiated at the Quai d’Orsay. One of the representatives who attended the Congress of Paris on behalf of the Ottoman Empire was A'ali Pasha, who was the grand vizier of the Empire. Another person who attended the Congress of Paris, on behalf of Russia, was Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov. He became Foreign Minister and Chancellor under Tsar Alexander II. By being part of the Congress of Paris, he was able to remove and dismiss some of the more disliked terms. Later he helped in the removal of the ban on Warships in the Black Sea. France sent their Ambassador at the time who was Earl Cowley. While other congresses, such as the Congress of Vienna, spread questions and issues for different committees to resolve, the Congress of Paris resolved everything in one group.
A significant diplomatic victory was scored by tiny Piedmont who, although not being yet considered a "great" European power, was nevertheless granted a seat at the Congress by the French Emperor Napoleon III mostly for having sent an expeditionary corps of 18,000 men to fight against Russia along with France and Prussia, but some say thanks to the intrigues of the very attractive Countess of Castiglione, who had caught the Emperor's attention. The Piedmontese foreign minister Camillo Benso di Cavour seized this opportunity to denounce Austrian political and military interference in the Italian peninsula stifling the wish of the Italian people to choose their own government.


The congress resulted in a pledge by all of the powers to jointly maintain "the integrity of the Ottoman Empire". They also guaranteed
Turkey’s independence. Also as a result of the conference Russia gave up the left bank of the mouth of the Danube River, including part of Bessarabia to Moldavia and gave up its claim to the special protection of Christians in the Ottoman Empire. Also Moldavia and Wallachia (which together later became Romania in 1858) along with Serbia were recognized as quasi-independent self-governing principalities under protection of the other European Powers. The sultan of Turkey agreed to in return, help improve the status of the Christian subjects in his empire. The territories of Russia and Turkey were restored to their prewar boundaries. The Black Sea was neutralized so therefore, no warships were allowed to enter; however, it was open to all other nations. It also opened the Danube River for shipping from all nations. Some of the rules and agreements that the congress came up with were altered 22 years later by the Congress of Berlin.

(Source Wikipedia)