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Christianity Against Itself: Antagonism Between Russian Orthodoxy and British Anglicanism in the Crimean War by Peter Hutton

The Crimean war was fought between Russia and an alliance of Turkey, Britain and France. It started when the Russian Tsar, Nicholas I, entered Turkish territory in 1853, ostensibly to ensure the religious freedom of Orthodox Christians living under Turkish suzerainty. Traditional scholarship has mainly analysed the war’s military and economic aspects but in more recent times, the importance of the Tsar’s strong Orthodox Christian belief, in both the war’s causation and its prosecution has been recognised. This essay describes the fundamental cause of the theological divisions between Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism and gives evidence that there was strong support from within the Anglican Church for using military action to oppose the spread of Orthodoxy. It then uses two artefacts to illustrate the character of each belligerent’s religious perspective. The first is a letter sent by Nicholas I to the King of Prussia in 1854 and the second is an engraving of the heroic death in battle of a British soldier at Sevastopol in 1855. The letter, as this essay argues, posits a strong, persistent self-belief and a determination in Nicholas not to seek personal glory, but to re-establish Christian Orthodoxy as the true faith; in contrast, the engraving reflects the ‘glorious death’ in battle legitimised by Anglican churchmen to oppose Orthodoxy. By so doing, the essay provides a new stance from which to assess the weighting that should probably be given to Anglicanism in the British war effort as it challenged its doctrinal differences with Orthodoxy.

Date created: 
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Attribution for this resource:
Christianity Against Itself: Antagonism Between Russian Orthodoxy and British Anglicanism in the Crimean War by Peter Hutton, All rights reserved.
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