A Priceless Grace? The Congress of Vienna of 1815, the Ottoman Empire and Historicising the Eastern Question

The English Historical Review, Volume 136, Issue 583.


The budding scholarship on the Congress of Vienna has devoted limited attention to the ‘Eastern Question’ in the 1810s. Even though the issue of the (non-) involvement of the Ottoman Empire in the new European state system has previously received mention, the rational and emotional factors that informed decisions taken by the Ottoman cabinet at the time have never been analysed in detail. Using previously unexplored Ottoman, Russian, British and French archival sources, this article historicises the ‘Eastern Question’ of the 1810s, when a new transimperial order was formed. It documents the attempts to ensure the security of Ottoman territories by European public law, and demonstrates that, although involving the Russo-Ottoman disputes in the Vienna negotiations was initially an Ottoman proposal, it was again the Sublime Porte that ultimately rejected it. The article discusses why this became the case, tracing the answer to diverse relational dynamics such as the conflicts in the Ottoman cabinet, the rivalries among the Great Powers, and the European endeavours to secure commercial interests in return for warranting regional stability.

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