The Congress of Vienna, 1815

What: An assembly of nations

Why: reorganise and restructure Europe after Napoleonic wars.

When: June 9, 1815

Participants: All European states except Turkey.

President: Chancellor of Austria, Metternich.

Other major personalities included: Frederick William III of Prussia, Czar Alexander I of Russia and Britain’s foreign ministers Lord Castlereagh.

Task ahead of the Congress of Vienna

  • To redraw political map of Europe.
  • To isolate France by establishing a ring of strong states around her.
  • To eliminated political theories of France.
  • To restore monarchical forces.
  • To re-establish the balance of political power in Europe.

Treatment given to France in the congress

  • Area reduced to pre-revolution era.
  • Imposed heavy war indemnity.
  • Restored treasuries taken away by Napoleon.
  • Maintenance of allied forces for 5 years.
  • Created a ring of strong states around France.

Through its various measures, Congress of Vienna was able to buy peace for Europe in next four decades. Creation of Holy Alliance or Quadruple Alliance are such examples.

Criticism of the Congress

  • There was unwanted move to restore the old regime despite the rising forces towards the nationalism, republic and democracy.
  • Discretionary division of territories and changing the rulership of a region annoyed the local habitants. For example, major Italian territories were handed over to the Austrian rulers.
  • Rise of new power assertive nations like Russia.
  • Unification of Germany was disregarded and old division was restored.

Holy Alliance (1815-25)

  • It was sponsored by Russia Czar Alexander I, so as to bring spiritual political framework and restoring Christian principles.
  • Its main objective was to promote peace and goodwill by bringing Christianity in public life.
  • Except England, all states signed it.
  • It ended with the death of Czar Alexander I in 1825.

Quadruple Alliance (1815-1818)

  • Members: Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia (BARP)
  • Why: To maintain treaties with France, preserve political stability in Europe, friendly relations among the four members, conduct regular meeting on security of members.
  • This proposal for periodic meetings constituted Concert of Europe or Congress System.

Under the leadership of Metternich, Quadruple was able to supress small states and silence the revolutionary ideals.

Later France joined this grouping under the leadership of Louis XVIII and renamed it as Quintuple Alliance in 1818.

Concert of Europe

  • It was a medium or channel to resolve the disputes among the major conservative powers.
  • Objective: maintain power, oppose revolutionary activities, weaken nationalism, and uphold balance of power.
  • It was the first example of System of Diplomacy by Conference.
  • Criticism: suppression of Naples by Austria, Spain was suppressed by France.
  • Why it failed:
  • England never wanted to intervene in the internal affairs of the states on the wishes of Metternich. Parliamentary England could not dealt with autocratic partners.
  • Second reason was the jealousy among the members. Russian and British were competitor in Balkan, West Asia and Mediterranean. These member nations had self-interest in the global trade routes and their colonies abroad. England wanted France out of Spain to protect Spanish colonies from the interference of France specially in North America.
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