The introduction to Norton Anthology of English Literature; subtopic: The Victorian Age, tells me that at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (1897), Mark Twain observed,

“British history is two thousand years old, and yet in a good many ways the world has moved farther ahead since the Queen was born than it moved in all the rest of the two thousand put together.” 

Yeah, farther ahead than this post is going. I’m riffing off my Order of Neshan Aftab for a minute; the Shah of Iran’s seizure of Herāt, Afghanistan, in 1856. “Great Britain regarded the move as a threat to British India and declared war on Iran.”  I think the Shah may have been emboldened by the Crimean War (1854 – 1856), which I don’t know much about. The link is to an extensive BBC History page about it.

The Crimean War, famed for the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’, would fundamentally alter the balance of power in Europe and set the stage for World War One.

Essentially, Britain entered the war, which was fought by Russia against Turkey, Britain and France, because Russia sought to control the Dardanelles. Russian control of the Dardanelles threatened British sea routes.

The Charge of the Light Brigade by Caton Woodville

The Charge of the Light Brigade is an 1854 narrative poem written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson commemorating  the Battle of Balaclava (Ukraine) during the Crimean War.  A misinterpreted order led to a suicidal charge by British light cavalry. Tennyson was poet laureate of the United Kingdom at the time.

The Charge Of The Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1854


Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

The Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb (1881)


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
 Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
 Rode the six hundred.


Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
 All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre stroke
 Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
 Not the six hundred.

Light Brigade by Unknown Artist courtesy Bock The Robber


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
 Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
 Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
 All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
 Noble six hundred.


NOTE: So I guess where I’m going next is to The Great Exhibition (of the Works of Industry of all Nations) in 1851.