London Straits Convention


London Straits Convention
(1841)
   An international agreement signed by Austria, France, Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire, Prussia, and Russia, which reaffirmed the principle that the Ottoman Straits - the Bosporus and Dardanelles - were to be closed to all warships of foreign powers when the Ottoman Empire was at peace. Anglo-Russian agreement over the straits, which had been a matter of contention since the signing of the Treaty of Inkiar Skelessi in 1833, was brought about due to mutual concerns over the resumption of hostilities between the Ottomans and their Egyptian vassal in 1839. The resolution of outstanding differences was largely due to Anglo-Russian diplomatic cooperation and Anglo-Ottoman military cooperation, which prevented the Ottoman Empire from suffering yet another near collapse at the hands of their Egyptian vassal, Mehmet Ali. On British insistence, the Russians did not negotiate a renewal of the Treaty of Inkiar Skelessi. Instead, both powers - joined by the Austrians, Prussians, and Turks - signed the London Convention for the Pacification of the Levant on July 15, 1840, and the London Straits Convention on July 13, 1841. The former prefigured the ultimate settlement to this phase of the problems in the Near East by offering Mehmet Ali hereditary title as governor of Egypt, providing he abandon his Syrian holdings, return the Ottoman fleet - which had defected to Alexandria in the summer of 1838 - and continue to acknowledge the suzerainty of and pay tribute to the Ottoman Sultan. The London Straits Convention grew out of a desire on the part of the British and Russian governments to come to satisfactory arrangement between themselves - with the cooperation of the Porte and other great powers - as to the status of the Straits.
   The convention was an outgrowth of the desire by the Great Powers to restore a semblance of balance to Near Eastern relations in the wake of a series of crises that had threatened the very existence of the Ottoman Empire. The regulations regarding the straits laid down in it essentially remained in force during the remainder of the life of the Ottoman Empire, and its terms remained in force until the end of World War I. The Treaty of Paris (1856), which ended the Crimean War, reaffirmed the Convention while also neutralizing the Black Sea.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Anderson, M. S. The Eastern Question 1774–1923 . London: Macmillan, 1966;
    Hale, William. Turkish Foreign Policy 1774–2000 . London: Frank Cass, 2000;
    Hurewitz, J. C., ed. The Diplomacy of the Near and Middle East, A Documentary Record: 1535–1914 . Vol. 1. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand and Co., 1956;
    Jelavich, Barbara. A Century of Russian Foreign Policy 1814–1914 . Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1964;
    Karsh, Efraim, and Inari Karsh. Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East 1789–1923 . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.
   ROBERT DAVIS

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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