Crimean History in the News

There is a lot in the news right now about the Crimean War.  Where was Sevastopol?  Of course, I know about Florence Nightingale.  The Charge of The Light Brigade sounds familiar…   The major newspapers are helping us catch up on our snoozing in high school history class.  (Assuming we went to the sort of high school that taught such things.)   The Economic Times wants you to remember the Indian connection. The New York Times reminds us its all about how you tell the story, starting out with a reference to Tolstoy and filled with prosaic quotes from modern residents.  The Telegraph showcases the pictures of Roger Fenton, only occasionally addressing the issue of “staging”.

Oddly there isn’t much about the Ottoman Empire or the first Annexation of the Crimea in these popular histories, newsified accounts.  So just to add another perspective, let’s round up a few commemorative medallions.

Image courtesy of CNG. Auction 88, Lot 2017. RUSSIA, Empire. Ekaterina II Velikaya (the Great), with Abdülhamid I. 1762-1796. Tin Medal (43mm, 16.75 g, 12h). Commemorating the Treaty of Malka-Kaynardzha (Küçük Kaynarca). Dated 1774.

The catalogue entry reads:

The Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774 grew out of the internal strife in Poland, during which Russia was a supporter of King Stanislaus Augustus. During a pursuit of a Polish Bar Confederation (force of nobility) into Ottoman territory, a group of Cossacks in Russian service allegedly involved some subjects of the town in their rampage, inciting the Ottoman Empire into action against Russia. Ultimately, however, the latter’s dominance of the seas provided her numerous victories in the conflict. With the Treaty of Malka-Kaynardzha (Küçük Kaynarca), Russia received the unofficial governance of the Crimean Khanate, a large sum of war reparations, and two important seaports allowing direct access to the Black Sea.

The obverse legend translates as “two hands bring an end to the turmoil”.

4345 Catherine II Rossia 1783 Annexation of Crimea and Taman Medal Bronze
SHH 4345
Catherine II The Great / Map of Crimea, Sea of Azof and Taman
Annexation of Crimea and Taman Bronze 83 Россия 1783/1792 Diakov 196; Moneta 60, 162 (Follow link for image source.)

Here I have to rely on the ANS translation of the legends of a similar medal:

Obverse: [In Russian]: BY THE GRACE OF GOD CATHERINE II EMPRESS AND ALL-RUSSIAN AUTOCRAT – Shoulder-length portrait of Catherine II, crowned, laureated, and armored, r.
Reverse: [In Russian,on banderole]: THE RESULT OF PEACE/in ex: ANNEXED TO THE RUSSIAN/EMPIRE WITHOUT BLOODSHED/APRIL8/1783 – Maps of Kuban’ and Crimean steppe and peninsula with Asof and Black sea
Anyway.  The next time someone brings up the Crimean War as an analogy for the present situation, you might just ask if they don’t think the events of the 1770s and 1780s might not just be a bit more relevant.
What’s Greco-Roman about this?  Oh we could talk about alliance coinages or other such things, but really it’s here just because I like a bit of history.  If you are jonesing for something classically themed, I offer this British beauty:
Crimean War Medal, 1856
The discussion offered by Fitzwilliam website is quite good (click image for link).  And if you need just a little more propaganda:
Obverse: THE HOLY ALLIANCE LA SAINTE ALLIANCE – British and French soldiers standing before drum cannons
Reverse: ENGLAND AND FRANCE UNITED TO DEFEND THE OPPRESSED AND AVENGE INSULTED EUROPE
My favorite detail of this last piece is that is from a design by Punch Magazine!
Postscript 13 March 2014: Here’s a newspaper piece which is alive to the legacy of the Ottoman presence in the region.  No surprise its from the English version of a Turkish paper.
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