The Ottomans came to appreciate their dire predicament only belatedly, when the empire was dealt an uncharacteristically devastating defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774. The Russians attained access to the Black Sea and posed a direct threat to Constantinople. Subsequent wars had further revealed the Ottomans lacked the capacity to resist further encroachments. In fact, the empire’s fate was now a problem to be resolved by Christian European powers, and one that was to be revisited many times over: it came to be known as ‘the Eastern Question’. That the Ottoman Empire survived as long as it did was a function of the balance of power that was arranged between Christian states, which seemed to depend on keeping the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ alive.
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