These are the years in which the so called Eastern question developed. The Eastern question is a question that preoccupied the European powers. But it was really a question about the fate of the Ottoman Empire which had a very critical impact on the European balance of power. The fear of the European powers was that a decline or disappearance of the Ottoman Empire. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire could lead to a European struggle for the remnants of the empire that would upset the balance of power in Europe and create a huge European war. That is what most European powers sought to prevent. The European powers generally speaking, therefore had the collective interest to preserve the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, despite its weakness. So as not to have the disintegration of the empire cause a destabilization of the power relations in Europe. At the end of the 18th century and at the beginning of the 19th, Russia posed the greatest challenge to the Ottoman Empire. And there were two components of this Russian challenge. The religious factor. Russia's support for Orthodox Christians in the Middle East, and the strategic factor. Russia's desire to advance southwards to the black sea. Hence the importance of the straits, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, in order to eventually reach the Mediterranean. Britain also became an interested party in the affairs of the Middle East. As a result of her acquisition of empire in India, the so-called Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire. To maintain connection with India, Britain obviously required safe passage which went through the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Britain therefore acquired a very great interest in the preservation of Middle Eastern stability. But things were not always easily manageable. Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt in 1798 is a typical example of these kinds of difficult management. Napoleon occupied Cairo in July 1798. A month later in August, the French fleet was destroyed by the British in the battle of the Nile, severing Napoleon's communications with France. In September of 1798, the Ottoman's declared war on France and entered into an alliance against France with both Britain and Russia. Bonaparte set off into Syria but was stopped at Acre in May 1799, and he returned to France. In 1801, the French force in Egypt finally surrendered to a British expeditionary force. Britain and Russia were now firmly allied to preserve the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. But a new reality had emerged in Egypt in the meantime. In the aftermath of the French Occupation, Muhammad Ali an Ottoman Officer of Albanian origin who was posted by the Ottomans to Egypt, gradually assumed control of Egypt as the local ruler de facto. Muhammad Ali became the creator of modern Egypt, essentially separating Egypt from the Ottoman Empire, instituting military reforms after which followed a whole host of other reforms in other spheres. Actually moving ahead in reform, ahead of the Ottoman Empire. Mohammed Ali established his own autonomous control of Egypt in the early 19th century. And thus he, Muhammad Ali and Egypt also became a part of the famous Eastern Question. A cool component of this Eastern Question during the 19th century, was the conflict between the Ottoman Empire and its Christian subjects. In the Balkans in particular. Christians in the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans were eagerly discussing and adopting modern European ideas like nationalism. And it was with European support that they were eventually succesful in their struggles for independence. The Greeks were the first in the 1820s, followed by others like the Serbs, the Romanians, and the Bulgarians. There was a dominant religious element in these nationalist movements. It was after all, always Christians fighting against Muslims. And thus the natural support of the Europeans for these newly emerging Christian independent movements versus the Ottomans. European support for Greek independence was also motivated by a romanticized image of ancient Greece related to this new struggle of the Greeks for their independence. As the Ottomans seemed to be losing in this struggle with the Greeks, Muhammad Ali now the de facto ruler in Egypt was called in by the Ottomans to help suppress the Greek uprising. But the Turco-Egyptian fleets were defeated in Navarino, by a combined British, France force in 1827. Muhammad Ali was promised Syria in return for his assistance, but the Ottomans did not keep their promise. And Muhammad Ali invaded Palestine and Syria in 1831, and defeated the Ottomans in Konya which is deep inside Anatolia in 1832. Muhammad Ali was now really threatening the integrity of the Ottoman Empire and in their despair, the Ottoman sword held from Russia and they signed a defense pack with the Russians in 1833. The Russians were interested in preserving the integrity of the Ottoman Empire against other threats, but this gave the impression to other European Powers that Russia was acquiring a de facto protectorate over the Ottoman Empire. Britain therefore became committed to removing Muhammad Ali from Syria, not because she cared so much about the Near East, but because of Britain's concerns about the balance of power in Europe. Muhammad Ali defeated the Ottomans again in 1839. And Britain and Russia cooperated to remove the threat posed by Muhammad Ali, forced him out of Syria and back to Egypt. But Muhammad Ali was now given the hereditary possession of Egypt in exchange for his removal from Syria. That meant that Egypt was no longer only under the rule of Muhammad Ali, but it was promised as an inheritance to Muhammad Ali's sons, and their sons after him. Thus creating a dynasty which ruled in Egypt all along until 1952 when overthrown by the Egyptian officers under General Anagib and Colonel Nasser. Matters were destabilized again between the powers in 1854, with the outbreak of the Crimean war. This was a war that the Russians fought against the Ottomans and the Ottomans now backed by Britain and France against the Russians. The trouble was ignited at first by conflict between France and Russia on the protection of Christian holy places in Palestine. The Russians demanded concessions from the Ottomans who refused, resulting in war, eventually brought to an end by the Peace of Paris in 1856. The Peace of Paris again, guaranteed the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire by the European powers. But in return for this European guarantee of Ottoman integrity the Sultan promised reforms and better treatment of Christian minorities. What this meant in conclusion, was a growing European interest and interference in the lands of the Ottoman Empire. Which had also led to the promotion of nationalists movements threatening the empire. Made it absolutely crucial for the rulers of the Ottoman Empire to engage in urgent reform to save the empire. Reforms did not save the empire in the end but they eventually helped to create the modern Middle East as we know it. In our next lesson, we will engage in these reforms that changed the empire and introduced the modern Middle East.