Conclusion 1856 and a “Peace that Sticks in the Throat”

  • Andrew C. Rath


On January 1, 1856, a “pale and upset” Czar Alexander II summoned his most influential advisors to the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg for an early-morning meeting.1 At issue was a single question: should the Russian Empire accept an Austrian-mediated peace proposal or continue fighting an expanding Allied coalition. The arguments offered in response to Austria’s proposal were complex. Regardless of whether they emphasized military, economic, diplomatic, or territorial concerns, however, all those present unambiguously concluded that Russia’s position was fast becoming untenable.2 In emphasizing that their government should seek lenient peace terms while it still could, senior ministers and diplomats did not even mention the September 1855 fall of Sevastopol.3 Instead, their focus on Russia’s economic exhaustion and mounting diplomatic isolation, coupled with potential defection of Poland and Finland, proves that even contemporary Russian decision makers saw the struggle as more than a “Crimean” War.


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© Andrew C. Rath 2015

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  • Andrew C. Rath

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