Nicholos I died in 1855 leaving his son Alexander the throne. This could not have come at a worse time as Russia had just suffered two defeats in the Crimean war from France, Britain, Turkey and Piedmont-Sardinia in Balaclava in 1854 and in November 1854. Russia had a great naval base, Sebastopol, next to the Black Sea but it had fallen to its enemies. The country was humiliated. The war had been a disaster despite Russia being confident in winning. It had shown Russias military and administrative weaknesses and disrupted trade through the Black Sea. The war ended in 1856 when the Treaty of Paris was signed which greatly restricted Russias access to the sea. It declared the Black Sea a 'neutral zone' which meant that Russia could not sail its warships on it in times of peace. It was brought into question whether Russia really was a 'great power' anymore.