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Unit 4: Nationalism, Industrialism, and Imperialism

Lesson G: Russian Desperation and the Ottoman Decline

Lesson Overview

In 1853, the Crimean War broke out between Britain, France, and the Ottoman Empire on one side and Russia on the other. Russians and Ottomans met in a naval battle known as the Battle of Sinop, one of the earliest ones of the Crimean War. Russia sought to take land located along the Black Sea that belonged to the Ottoman Empire. Britain and France did not want Russia to expand, so they supported a weak Ottoman Empire against Russia.

Although the Ottoman Empire was victorious in the war, it only won because of British and French support. By the end of the Crimean War, the Ottoman Empire was aware of its weaknesses and sought reforms in order to compete with the rest of Europe. At one time the Russian Empire had a superior army and navy, but after the Crimean War it became obvious that like the Ottoman Empire, Russia had declined in power as well. Throughout the 19th century, both empires struggled to regain the power and control that they once had.

battle of sinope
In 1853, Russians and Ottomans Met in a Naval Battle Known as the Battle of Sinop [1]


Key Questions

  1. How did the Ottoman Empire become the "Sick Man of Europe"?
  2. How did its rulers try to reform the Ottoman Empire?
  3. How did Russia deal with the internal and external pressures of the 19th century?
  4. How did imperialism and nationalism affect the Ottoman and Russian Empires?

Student Outcomes

  1. Analyze the effects of European commercial interventions and population growth on Ottoman society and government.
  2. Explain the defensive reform programs of Selim III, Mahmad II, and Abdul Hamid and analyze the challenges they faced in resolving political and economic crisis.
  3. Analyze the effects of the French Revolution, Napoleonic invasion, and world economy on Russian absolutism.
  4. Assess the impact of imperial reforms and popular opposition movements in the late 1800s.
  5. Analyze the reasons for Russian success in wars of expansion against the Ottoman and other Muslim states and failures against Europeans.
  6. Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issues. (Historical Thinking Skill)

Key Terms

Student Resources

Chart of Activities:

Activities to Complete Estimated Time
5 minutes
Key Terms
5 minutes
Activator: 19th Century World Conflict
10 minutes
Opening: Titles for Monarchs
5 minutes
Activity 1: Timeline of 19th Century
20 minutes
Activity 2: Sick Man of Europe
15 minutes
Activity 3: Russian Despotism
30 minutes
Activity 4: Crimean War
15 minutes
Activity 5: Reviewing Ottoman and Russian Empires
15 minutes
Review and Assessment
10 minutes
Lesson Summary
5 minutes

Lesson Completion Time

The total estimated time to complete this lesson is 135 minutes.

Page Notes:

[1] Source: This image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Battle-of-sinope.jpg is in the public domain.