'The Fete at Paris', 1854.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Printed woodcut from 'The Illustrated London News' showing a flotilla of balloons being released during a representation of the siege of Silistria at the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. The siege of Silistria was an allied victory during the Crimean war (1853-1856). The war began in July 1853 when Rusia occupied Moldavia and Walachia motivated by its desire to establish a protectorate over Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire; a move which was resisted by the Turkish, French and English. On 19 May 1854, Rusia began the siege of Silistria to try and advance its way through the Balkans to Constantinople, but a strong allied defence defeated the Rusian army and the siege was abandoned on 2 August.