The Congress of Vienna was the international conference held by the Great Powers to remake Europe after the cataclysmic convulsions of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars had shaken the old regimes of monarchial governent. The Congress was held in Vienna, Austria (September 1814 to June 1815). The Congress was in session when Napoleon escaped fom Elba and carried out his 100 Days campaign ending at waterloo. The Congress dominated by Russia and Austria. Austrian Foreign Minister Meternich in particular played a key role. There were three primary outcomes. First, the Congress reimposed a conservtive regime in a Europe that had been fundamentally changed by the ideals of the French Revolution, no matter how imperfectly spread by Napoleon's military campaign. Second, the Congress sought to establish a balance of power in Europe to prevent future wars and the dominance of any single country. Third, Major territorial changes were made which redrew the map of Europe. Te Great Powers had the ability to reimpose the Old Regime, but it did not have the ability to eradicate the ideas unleased by the French Revolution, both ideals of democrativ government and nationalist sentiment. Ignored by the Congress was the Industrial Revolution tht had begin in Britain and in the process of fundamental reshaping Europe and the balance of power with which the delegates at Vienna were so concerned.
The rise of the bourgeoisie in France signaled the deathnell for Ancien Regime, the old aristocracy. Unlike Britain and the new United States, the economiclly important bourgeoisie was denied any political role and support of the increasingly frivolous aristocracy imposed a great economic cost on France. Not only was the bourgeoisie denied any real political role, but the lower classess lived in increasingly deprived conditions, a situation intensified by the bankruptsy of he royal government. The increasing oposition to France's virtually feudal government suddenly ignited during a 1789 riot that exploded into open revolt. The Revolution was opposed by the other counties of Europe--all monarchies. A new Republic toppled the monarchy. A series of sporadically violent and radical civilian administrations rued France. The height of violence was reached in the "The Great Terror." King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antointte to the horror of Europe were guiotined. The execution of the King and Queen made any accomodaton with the Republic impossible. Foreign armies coverged on Paris, but were defeated by Rpublican forces under the new tri-color flag. Eventually a remarkably capable and carismatic genneral seized control of the Revolutionary armies and the Republic merged into the new French Empire. The disorders and violence in France were to engulf all Europe in war, first with the new French Republic and then with Napoleon's Empire. The resulting wars and campaigns were the most significant in Europe until World War I (1914-18).
The Napoleonic Wars followed the wars associated with the French Revolution. The Napoleoic Wars extended over 20 years and included a number of distinct campaigns. The First Coalition Wars (1792-97) including the Italian campaign can be associated with the French Revolution. The important campaign of the Napoleonic Wars are Egypt (1798-1801), Second Coalition (1798-1801), Third Coalition (1805), Fourth Coalition (1806-07), Fifth Coalition (1809), the Peninsular War, (1808-14), Invasion of Russia (1812), Germany (1813), Invasion of France (1814), and the 100 days campaign (1815). British actions against American shipping resulted in a war with the fledgling United States, referred to as the War of 1812 in America. The French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars did more to foster nationalist sentiment than any other events during the late 18th century and early 19th century. Fashions were largely pan-European before the Napoleonic Wars. After Waterloo (1815) and the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), individual nation satates coalessed and developed theie own values and fashions. One factor was the increasing nationalization of European monarchies. Before the Napoleonic Wars, there were many royal families which ruled provinces that that spoke different languages and had culturres different than the monarch. Even a large country like England had a series of Dutch and German kings. After the Naopoleonic Wars, nation states began to colaese, Finally Germany and Italy emerged. The monarchs in 19th centurty Europe (although not necesarily therir wives) were identified with the national culturel The English monarch (Victoria), the Czar, the Kaiser, the Italian king. the French kings and emperors were the embodiment of the national image--it would be unimaginable that such monarchs woulod be foreign. At the same time, destinctive national fashionsd became increasingly important. No longer would Europeans accept pan-European fashions like the skeleton suit. The impact on Germany and Central Europe after wars of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars need to be examined as much focus is usually on England and France.
The Congress of Vienna was concerned with an enormous task, reshapin an entire continent aftr the convulsins of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The one exception was paeace with France. The terms of that peace was previously decided by the Treaty of Paris which had already been finalised (May 30, 1814).
The Congress of Vienna was the international conference held by the Great Powers to remake Europe after the cataclysmic convulsions of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars had shaken the old regimes of monarchial governent. The Congress was held in Vienna, Austria (September 1814 to June 1815). The Congress of Vienna was actually more of a confrence. The Congress actually never met in plenary session, in part because of the desire of the Great Powers to control the outcome. The Congress dominated by Russia and Austria. Austrian Minister of State Meternich in particular played a key role. The Congress began with several of glittery balls and formal conferences. There was jubilation among aristocratic Europe tht Naopleon after years of his acendency and constant warfare had finally been defeated. The delegates soon got down to the difficult job of reshaping Europe. The four major powers that had played the major role in defeating Napoleon decided among themselves that thy would mke the key decussions. The important discussions were made in informal sessions among the Great Powers. Thus Piedmont, Portugal, Spain, and other smaller countries would have no real say in the decessions. Curiously defeated France was not locked out of the Congress. Napoleon had been defeated, but the Bourbons that were replacing him were admitted to the Congress and in part due to Tallyrand's masterful diplomacy played an important role. The work of the Congress continued even after Napoleon escaped from Elba and seized power in Paris (March 1815). The Congress's Final Act was signed 9 days before Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo (June 18, 1815).
The Congress was in session when Napoleon escaped fom Elba and carried out his 100 Days campaign ending at waterloo. Napoleon at first took some interest in Elba, but rapidly tired of it. He managd to slipawy back to France with his Elba bodyguard. He landed in southern France. He marched to Paris and followers joined him. Roylist forces sent to intercept him, instead joined him. The Bourbon King Louis XVIII installd by the Allies fled from Paris and Napolon regained control of the government. The King wisely evacuated the capital and Napoleon again took control of the government. The Allies formed the eventh and last Coalition against France. Napoleon decided he had to defeat the Allied armies in the field before they could be reinforced. He marched north to engage the British under Wellington and he Prussians under Blucher. The engamemnt took place at Waterloo in Belgium. It was the only engagement in which both Wellington and Napoleon personally commanded. Wellington had defeated six of the greatrest marshalls of France (Jourdan, Marmont, Masséna, Ney, Soult, and Victor). Napoleon at breakfast before the battle belittles Wellington and his own marshalls. He tells them, "... because you have been beaten by Wellington, you considerhim a great general. And now I tell you that Wellington is a bad general, that the English are bad troops, and ce sera l'affaire d'un dejeuner." Wellington while believing that Napoleon was "no gentleman", had the greatest admiraltion for him as a commander. [Roberts] The old master had lost his touch. He filed to keep the two armies from combining forces. At Waterloo Blucher arrived to smah into Napoleon's flank as he engaged Wellington.
The work of the Congress was comducted primarly by the four major powers of Europe (Austria, Britain, Prussia, and Russia). They mafe most of the majordecisions.
The Austrian delegate was Prince Klemens von Metternich, the Austrian minister of state who was selected as acting president of the Congress, effectively the chairman. His deputy was Baron Wessenberg.
The Russian delegate was foreign minister, Count Nesselrode. In fact Tsar Alexander I attended the Congress and participated personally in important dscussions.
The Prussian delegate was ChancellorPrince Karl August von Hardenberg.
Prussia was represented by Prince Karl August von Hardenberg who was assisted by Wilhelm von Humboldt a diplomat and scholar familiar to oceanographers..
The British delegate was Foreign Minister Lord Castlereagh and later Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellingtom--the victor of Waterloo. In the closing weeks of the Congress with the return of Napoleon and the launching of a new military campaign, Wellington departed to take charge of the British army preparing to face him. The Earl of Clancarty replaced him as the British delegate.
Perhaps the most fascinating figure at the Congress was the French representative, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. He succeeded in getting a full voice for France at the Congress.
The Great Powers planned to exclude the French from seriously particiapting in the major decessions.
Talleyrand skillfully undid this agtrement and managed to insert himself into key informal meeting of the Great Powers within a few weeks after the Congress beagan. In fact Talleyrand became a key figure at the Congress and on several important matters cast the deciding vote. An account of how he did this is a major story in itself.
Otther representatives played small roles. On some regional issues, the Great Powers consult with smallr powers. the Spanish representative was the Marquis de Labrador. Portugal was represented by Pedro de Sousa Holstein, Count of Palmela; António Saldanha da Gama; Joaquim Lobo da Silveira. Sweden was represented by Carl Löwenhielm. Some of the German states were also consulted, primarily Hanover, Bavaria, and Württemberg. The other delegates were rarely if ever consuted. Thus they were left in Vienna without any realk ole. Austrian Emperor Francis as host organized a series of lavish entertainments, in part to destract them. The Prince de Ligne's observed that "le Congrès ne marche pas; il danse." (The Congress does not work; it dances).
There were three primary outcomes. First, the Congress reimposed a conservtive regime in a Europe that had been fundamentally changed by the ideals of the French Revolution, no matter how imperfectly spread by Napoleon's military campaign. Second, the Congress sought to establish a balance of power in Europe to prevent future waes and the dominance of any single country. Here there was a degree of success. Europe did enjoy a peaceful interlude for nearly 40 years. Third, major territorial changes were made which redrew the map of Europe.
The Congress reimposed a conservtive regime in a Europe that had been fundamentally changed by the ideals of the French Revolution, no matter how imperfectly spread by Napoleon's military campaign. France was restored to the Bourbons in the person of Louis XVIII. Spain was restored to theSpanish Bourbons in the person of Ferdinand VII.
The Congress sought to establish a balance of power in Europe to prevent future wars and the dominance of any single country.
Major territorial changes were made which redrew the map of Europe.
Austria recovered most of the territory it had lost as well as territory in Germany and Italy (Lombardy and Venice). In fact Austria had effective control of most of Italy because of its reltions with the Papacy and the instalion of Hampsburg family members on thrones of Italian principalities, especially the Kingdom of Two Sicilies.
The British Royal Navy had seized numerous French and other colonial possssions. British control of key possessiond (Malta and Gibraltar) was conformed as well as various its colonial possessions (Cape Colony, South Africa; Tobago; Ceylon; and various other colonies in Africa and Asia). Other colonies seized by the Royal Navy (the Dutch East Indies and Martinique) were restored to the former colonial powers.
Most importantly, Britain was left as the world's only important naval power, giving it control of the seas.
The Dutch Republic was united with the Austrian Netherlands to form a single kingdom of the Netherlands (including modern Belgium) under the House of Orange. Independence of the Low Countries had been a long-term goal of British foreign policy.
France was stripped of all territory conquered by Napoleon.
A Germanic Confederation of 39 states was created from the old Holy Roman Empire made up of 300 dtates and amall princupalities. The Austrian Emperor was awardedthe office of presidency of the Confederation. Only the German portions of Austria and Prussia were included in the Confederation.
Norway and Sweden were united under the Swedish crown.
Prussia was awarded Saxony and parts of Westphalia and the Rhine Province.
Russia was awarded Finland which it had seized from Sweden (1809) and effective control over most of Poland.
Swiss neutrality was formally guaranteed.
The Slave Trade had been a major economic avtivity before the Revolutiin. France Caribbean Islnds, especially Haiti, were possesions of enormous balue. The Congress at Britain's urging condemned the slave trade. It took no concrete action, however, to enforce the condemnation. The Great Powers except for Britain had no real stake in the slave trade which was primarily an Atlantic entrprise, at least as far as Europe was concered. It would fall upon Britain and the Royal Navy to end the slave trade. The French believed that the effort was deigned more to undermine French power thn any true humanitarian edevor. France was, however, a defeated power and the Great Powers had no real objection to the Britih effort and without importantnavies no way of opposing the British campign. It would be an enormous undertaking, but Britain launched into the effort even before Napoleon's defeat.
The Congress of Vienna oversaw not only the redrawing of the European map, but made decessions affecting colonial possessions around the world. These involved the disposition of colonial possssions that had changed hands during the Napooleonic Wars, almost entirely possessions the British Royal Navy had seized. The Congress did not address the wars for independence against Spain rageing in South aznd Central America. I am not sure to whatt extent they were discussed, but any mention of them did not appear in the final agreement. Also not mentioned was the United States, a country Britain fought a war during the Napoleonic Wars (1812-15). This is somewhat curious because as a democratic republic, America was a chllenge to the monarchial conservative regime that the Congress was reimposing on Europe. I am not sure why the Congress took no decesions on America. Perhaps the delegates felt that Amrica was not very important. Or perhpas that republican government would ultimately fail. Or perhaps the British did not want the other Great Powers interfering. This is a topic we need to persue. After the Congress of Vienna, a kind of Congress System operated--a kind of collective security arrangement for European monarchs. The French intervened to supress liberal uprising in Spain. When the Congress System discussed restoring royal authority in the rebellious Spanish colonies, Britain objected. Only Britain among the Comgress Powers had a substantial naval force. It was needed if Spain was to reasert its authority. The British had no particular smpathy toward South American revolutionaries. They did see trade advantages, however, in braking up the Spanish Empire. Spain had attempted to prevent the colonies from trading with Britain. Thus Britain persued the trade advantages rather than supporting the Congress powers desiring to supress the new republics and restore Spanish royal rule.
Revolutionaries in the New World contunued to dimantal the Spanish Empire. There were alo revilutions in Europe, including Greece, Naples, Poland and Spain. Revolutionaries sought politicl freedom and constututions. Only the Greek revolt led by General Alexanbdros Yipsilanti suceeded because it was aimed at the Ottomans and supported by the British. General Guglielmo Pepe failed in Naples. Col. Sergei Muraviev-Apostal failed in Poland.
Colonel Rafael del Riego failed in Spain. [Stites]
The Great Powers had the ability to reimpose the Old Regime, but it did not ultimately have the ability to eradicate the ideas unleased by the French Revolution, both ideals of democrativ government and nationalist sentiment. Ignored by the Congress was the Industrial Revolution tht had begin in Britain and in the process of fundamental reshaping Europe and the balance of power with which the delegates at Vienna were so concerned.
Stites, Richard. The Four Horsemen: Riding to Liberty in Post-Napoleonic Europe (2013).
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