The strategic importance of Constantinople to the British Empire
With the defeat of Turkey and the end of the War, the fate of the city of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) was of vital strategic importance to the major European powers. The city provided a land bridge between Europe and Asia, and the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles gave a sea passage from the Black Sea into the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Britain was particularly concerned to avoid Russia gaining control of any sea route to India.
This secret memorandum gives the position favoured by the General Staff at the British War Office. Their conclusion was that Britain’s naval and military interests were best served by Turkey remaining in possession of Constantinople and the Straits, but with the sea passage internationalised, and that an agreement should be reached with Turkey that ensured it played the role of a benevolent buffer State between Europe and the eastern part of the British Empire.
- Article by:
- David Stevenson
- Origins, outbreak and conclusions
Professor David Stevenson explains how the Treaty of Versailles, the Treaties of Saint-Germain and Trianon and the Treaties of Neuilly and Sèvres re-drew Europe's post-war boundaries.