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Dardanelles, Treaty of the (1809)


Officially known as "The Treaty of Peace, Commerce, and Secret Alliance: Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire, 5 January 1809," with ratifications exchanged in Istanbul on 27 July 1809.

The Treaty of the Dardanelles grew out of the international rivalries surrounding the Napoleonic wars. The one constant rivalry during this period was that between Great Britain and France. The other European powers sided with one or the other as their military fortunes ebbed and flowed. Until 1805, Russia and France were allies. After Russia joined the Third Coalition against Napoléon, France endeavored to involve the Ottoman Empire in a war with Russia as a distraction. This war began in 1806 and lasted until 1812. Now allied with Russia, Britain sent a naval expedition against Istanbul in 1807; although Britain was able to force its way through the Dardanelles, the Ottomans pushed them back with a loss of two ships. Britain also occupied Alexandria but was forced to withdraw. Except for Britain, France was able to defeat the Third Coalition powers, and in 1807 Russia once more allied with France while continuing its war against the Ottomans. This set the stage for a change in British relations with the Ottomans, now fighting an ally of their perpetual enemy, France.

Sir Robert Adair led the British negotiations with the Sublime Porte that led to the 1809 treaty. The treaty contained eleven articles to which were appended four "separate and secret articles" and one "additional and secret article." The basic articles addressed the recent war between the two powers. They provided for an end to hostilities between Great Britain and the Ottomans with the exchange of prisoners; restoration of any Ottoman fortresses in British possession; mutual restoration of the property of British and Ottoman citizens seized by either side during the war; continuation of the 1675 Treaty of Capitulations; mutual good treatment of the merchants of both countries; an Ottoman tariff set at 3 percent; customary honors to the ambassadors of each nation on the same basis as all other ambassadors; appointment of consuls to facilitate trade; British agreement not to appoint Ottoman subjects as consuls nor to grant patents of protection to Ottoman subjects; and recognition of Ottoman authority to prohibit ships of war passing through the straits in time of peace. This latter was of special significance as it marked Britain as the first European power to recognize this Ottoman prerogative. General recognition of this did not, however, occur until 1841.

The "separate and secret articles" dealt primarily with France and Russia. Britain pledged to support the Ottomans should France declare war on them, including sending a fleet to the Mediterranean for that purpose. Britain also agreed to provide military supplies if France threatened the Ottomans short of declaring war. Regarding Russia, Britain offered to help secure a peace with Russia should this be possible before the Ottomans were able to end their war. This part of the treaty also included a provision for adjudication of the claims of both parties surrounding the British invasion and retreat from Alexandria.

The "additional and secret article" promised 300,000 pounds sterling to the Ottomans as a confirmation of friendship. Although Britain ratified this article, it was not to be presented for exchange unless France began a war with the Ottomans, which never took place.

In addition to ending the war between Britain and the Ottomans, recognizing the right of the Ottomans to close the straits, creating an alliance against France, and reconfirming the capitulations, the treaty is of particular interest because of its language. Normally, treaties are drawn in the language of the parties negotiating them. Because the Ottomans had a limited knowledge of English, however, they insisted that the treaty be drawn in Turkish and French, with which they were much more comfortable. This was a matter of some discussion in the foreign office, but the Ottoman position prevailed.

See also Bonaparte, Napoléon; Sublime Porte.


Adair, Robert. The Negotiations for the Peace of the Dardanelles, in 18089: With Dispatches and Official Documents. 2 vols. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1845.

Hurewitz, J. C., ed. Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East: A Documentary Record, 15351914. New York: Octagon Books, 1972.

daniel e. spector

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