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The chain of events leading to France's and Britain's declaring war on Russia on 27 March and 28 March 1854 can be traced to the coup d'Ã©tat of 1851 in France. Napoleon III had his ambassador go to the Ottoman Empire to force the Ottomans to recognize France as the "sovereign authority" in the Holy Land.
Russia disputed this newest change in "authority" in the Holy Land. Pointing to two more treaties, one in 1757 and the other in 1774, the Ottomans reversed their earlier decision, renouncing the French treaty and insisting that Russia was the protector of the Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire.
Napoleon III responded with a show of force, sending the ship of the line Charlemagne to the Black Sea, a violation of the London Straits Convention. France's show of force, combined with aggressive diplomacy and money, induced Sultan AbdÃ¼lmecid I to accept a new treaty, confirming France and the Roman Catholic Church as the supreme Christian authority in the Holy Land with control over the Christian holy places and possession of the keys to the Church of the Nativity, previously held by the Greek Orthodox Church.