The Crimean War-Ottoman Empire relationship goes deep. Though most people, when they think of the Crimean War think of it as a battle between Russia and the allied forces of Britain, France, Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia. It was basically fought over who would retain control of the dangerously large and rapidly weakening Ottoman Empire.
The Eastern Question
The Crimean War- Ottoman Empire relationship began with the Eastern Question, which was a main issue of European diplomacy. This "Eastern Question" basically referred to the danger posed by the weakness of the Ottoman Empire because the Sultans in Istanbul were unable to wield power over all the vast territories of the Ottoman Empire, which had been put together by their fearless ancestors.
This Eastern Question basically dealt with the western European Powers - Britain, Austria, France, Russia and lastly Germany - as each of these powers nervously tried to make sure that none of the others gained any advantage as to who would control the rapidly weakening Empire.
The Europeans feared that Russia would continue the military campaign it had begun in the eighteenth century and expand southward toward the Black Sea and even take over Istanbul. This was in no way acceptable to them since Istanbul had tremendous strategic importance for the powers of Western Europe.
The Europeans were further afraid that the Russians wielded influence over the Christians in the Ottoman Empire. This is because Russia played an active hand in the Balkan liberation movements which took place in the early nineteenth century. The Orthodox Christians under the Ottoman rule would naturally come under Russian influence because it was the leading Orthodox power. Russia could easily claim that it had a right to their protection.
The Crimean War- Ottoman relationship also had a religious angle to it. The Ottoman Empire was home to many Christian sacred territories such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Both these Churches were controlled by "Orthodox" preists as a result of pressure from Russia. Napolean III demanded that the then Sultan restore the rights of the Roman Catholics to these Holy Places, thus provoking Russia.
Russia demanded that the Sultan allow her to protect all the Orthodox Christians under his rule and so began the Crimean War. The Crimean War- Ottoman Empire relationship is a strong one and it led to one of the bloodiest battles in recent history.