Lord Stratford de Redcliffe and the Crimean War

A study of diplomacy in transition by Nicholas Henderson

Stratford canning was the most famous British Ambassador of the nineteenth century. Created Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe in 1852, he was the first professional diplomat to be honoured after his death by a statue in Westminster Abbey, which stands beside that of his cousin George Canning, the Foreign Secretary. It is interesting to compare his behaviour then with that of an Ambassador today, and to see how far the practice of diplomacy has changed in the course of the last century. It is revealing, too, to see what part he, the arch anti-Russian of his age, played as Ambassador at Constantinople in the events leading to the Crimean War—the only full-scale war in modern history between England and Russia; and to perceive in passing where responsibility lay for the most important decisions which ultimately precipitated war.

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