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First Franco-Turkish War (Napoleon's World)

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The First Franco-Turkish War was a military conflict fought from the spring of 1843 until the fall of 1844 between the French Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Due to a longstanding border dispute between the two nations regarding territory along the Black Sea coastline that dated back to the conquest of Russia as well as French designs on a Greek province and an Egyptian protectorate, the war began with the French invasion of the Balkans in 1843.

While initially a French success along the Black Sea and in North Africa, the war became bogged down in the Serbian highlands throughout the winter and Turkish guerrilla attacks eventually wore down the French Grand Army. The disastrous invasions of Crete and Cyprus crushed French morale and were decried by the French public, especially amongst the German elite, which was almost unilaterally opposed to the war. The French naval victory at the Battle of Kassos eliminated the threat of the Turkish Mediterranean fleet and the French navy was able to successfully blockade the Dardanelles crossing throughout the summer of 1843. However, another landing in western Greece was eventually repelled, and the French sued for peace with the Turks due to brewing discontent at home, signing the Treaty of Budapest on October 20, 1844. Along with the military stalemate, instability following the death of Napoleon the Great on February 4, 1844 and the infighting amongst his sons Napoleon II and Louis were seen as factors in the end of the war.

The war resulted in significant losses for both sides and only minor shifts in territory (France gained the port of Odessa but little else). An estimated 150,000 Imperial soldiers died, the majority of them conscripted prisoners and ethnic minorities from the provinces, and about 75,000 Turkish soldiers are estimated to have died in the conflict, with total casualties as high as half a million. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Bosnians and Serbs were displaced due to the fighting, driving many of them further south into Turkey or fleeing north into French territories, allowing for the wave of Turkish immigrants to the Balkans that defined the 1850's.

The war had alternating effects on its two combatants - in France, it was viewed as the end of an era of French predominance in the world, as it was France's first major military defeat since its withdrawal from Egypt in 1801, forty-three years prior. With an ignonimous peace coming only months after the death of the long-ailing but symbolically powerful Napoleon I, the war only further destabilized the volatile political situations in France and its German territories and in less than a month after the Treaty of Budapest the War of Napoleonic Succession had begun. However, the victory of the French fleet at Kassos is still one of the celebrated victories of the French Navy even into present day, with June 5 being called "Kassos Day" in the Empire, a minor holiday.

In Turkey, the war was a major propaganda victory for the beleaguered Sultan Abdulmecid, who solidified his hold on power and enacted numerous sweeping reforms within his territory throughout the 1840's and 1850's, including "Turkifying" the Balkans while granting greater autonomy to Arab territories in the East, which were farther from his capital at Istanbul. The war effectively ended French recognition of the Kingdom of Serbia and French support for the Greek independence movement, ideals that would not resurface again in full bloom until a century later.

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