Congress of Vienna

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The national boundaries within Europe set by the Congress of Vienna Europe 1815 map en.png
The national boundaries within Europe set by the Congress of Vienna

The Congress of Vienna (French : Congrès de Vienne, German : Wiener Kongress) of 1814–1815 was the most important international diplomatic conference in European history, reconstituting the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I. It was a meeting of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, and held in Vienna from November 1814 to June 1815.

Contents

The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other and remain at peace. More fundamentally, the conservative leaders of the Congress sought to restrain or eliminate the republicanism and revolution which had upended the constitutional order of the European old regime, and which continued to threaten it. In the settlement, France lost all its recent conquests, while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west, Swedish Pomerania, 60% of the Kingdom of Saxony, and the western part of the former Duchy of Warsaw; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained the central and eastern part of the Duchy of Warsaw. It ratified the new Kingdom of the Netherlands which had been created just months before from the formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.

Frontispiece of the Acts of the Congress of Vienna Berlin .Gendarmenmarkt .Deutscher Dom 010.jpg
Frontispiece of the Acts of the Congress of Vienna

The immediate background was Napoleonic France's defeat and surrender in May 1814, which brought an end to 23 years of nearly continuous war. Negotiations continued despite the outbreak of fighting triggered by Napoleon's dramatic return from exile and resumption of power in France during the Hundred Days of March to July 1815. The Congress's "final act" was signed nine days before his final defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

Historians have criticized the Congress for causing the subsequent suppression of the emerging national and liberal movements, [1] and it has been seen as a reactionary movement for the benefit of traditional monarchs.

In a technical sense, the "Congress of Vienna" was not properly a congress: it never met in plenary session. Instead, most of the discussions occurred in informal, face-to-face sessions among the Great Powers of Austria, Britain, France, Russia, and sometimes Prussia, with limited or no participation by other delegates. On the other hand, the Congress was the first occasion in history where, on a continental scale, national representatives came together to formulate treaties instead of relying mostly on messages among the several capitals. The Congress of Vienna settlement formed the framework for European international politics until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

Preliminaries

The Treaty of Chaumont in 1814 had reaffirmed decisions that had been made already and that would be ratified by the more important Congress of Vienna of 1814–15. They included the establishment of a confederated Germany, the division of Italy into independent states, the restoration of the Bourbon kings of Spain, and the enlargement of the Netherlands to include what in 1830 became modern Belgium. The Treaty of Chaumont became the cornerstone of the European Alliance that formed the balance of power for decades. [2] Other partial settlements had already occurred at the Treaty of Paris between France and the Sixth Coalition, and the Treaty of Kiel that covered issues raised regarding Scandinavia. The Treaty of Paris had determined that a "general congress" should be held in Vienna and that invitations would be issued to "all the Powers engaged on either side in the present war". [3] The opening was scheduled for July 1814. [4]

Participants

1. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
2. Joaquim Lobo Silveira, 7th Count of Oriola
3. Antonio de Saldanha da Gama, Count of Porto Santo
4. Count Carl Lowenhielm
5. Jean-Louis-Paul-Francois, 5th Duke of Noailles
6. Klemens Wenzel, Prince von Metternich
7. Andre Dupin
8. Count Karl Robert Nesselrode
9. Pedro de Sousa Holstein, 1st Count of Palmela
10. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh
11. Emmerich Joseph, Duke of Dalberg
12. Baron Johann von Wessenberg
13. Prince Andrey Kirillovich Razumovsky
14. Charles Stewart, 1st Baron Stewart
15. Pedro Gomez Labrador, Marquis of Labrador
16. Richard Le Poer Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty
17. Nikolaus von Wacken [de] (Recorder)
18. Friedrich von Gentz (Congress Secretary)
19. Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt
20. William Cathcart, 1st Earl Cathcart
21. Prince Karl August von Hardenberg
22. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord
23. Count Gustav Ernst von Stackelberg Congress of Vienna.PNG

1. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
2. Flag Portugal (1750).svg Joaquim Lobo Silveira, 7th Count of Oriola
3. Flag Portugal (1750).svg António de Saldanha da Gama, Count of Porto Santo
4. Naval Ensign of Sweden.svg Count Carl Löwenhielm
5. Flag of the Kingdom of France (1814-1830).svg Jean-Louis-Paul-François, 5th Duke of Noailles
6. Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Klemens Wenzel, Prince von Metternich
7. Flag of the Kingdom of France (1814-1830).svg André Dupin
8. Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg Count Karl Robert Nesselrode
9. Flag Portugal (1750).svg Pedro de Sousa Holstein, 1st Count of Palmela
10. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh
11. Flag of the Kingdom of France (1814-1830).svg Emmerich Joseph, Duke of Dalberg
12. Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Baron Johann von Wessenberg
13. Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg Prince Andrey Kirillovich Razumovsky
14. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Charles Stewart, 1st Baron Stewart
15. Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Pedro Gómez Labrador, Marquis of Labrador
16. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Richard Le Poer Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty
17. Clear.gif Nikolaus von Wacken  [ de ] (Recorder)
18. Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Friedrich von Gentz (Congress Secretary)
19. Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt
20. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg William Cathcart, 1st Earl Cathcart
21. Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Prince Karl August von Hardenberg
22. Flag of the Kingdom of France (1814-1830).svg Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
23. Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg Count Gustav Ernst von Stackelberg

The Congress functioned through formal meetings such as working groups and official diplomatic functions; however, a large portion of the Congress was conducted informally at salons, banquets, and balls. [5]

Four Great Powers and Bourbon France

The Four Great Powers had previously formed the core of the Sixth Coalition. On the verge of Napoleon's defeat they had outlined their common position in the Treaty of Chaumont (March 1814), and negotiated the Treaty of Paris (1814) with the Bourbons during their restoration: [6]

Other signatories of the Treaty of Paris, 1814

These parties had not been part of the Chaumont agreement, but had joined the Treaty of Paris (1814):

Others

Virtually every state in Europe had a delegation in Vienna – more than 200 states and princely houses were represented at the Congress. [25] In addition, there were representatives of cities, corporations, religious organizations (for instance, abbeys) and special interest groups – e.g., a delegation representing German publishers, demanding a copyright law and freedom of the press. [26] The Congress was noted for its lavish entertainment: according to a famous joke it did not move, but danced. [27]

Talleyrand's role

Talleyrand proved an able negotiator for the defeated French. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord - Pierre-Paul Prud'hon.jpg
Talleyrand proved an able negotiator for the defeated French.

Initially, the representatives of the four victorious powers hoped to exclude the French from serious participation in the negotiations, but Talleyrand skillfully managed to insert himself into "her inner councils" in the first weeks of negotiations. He allied himself to a Committee of Eight lesser powers (including Spain, Sweden, and Portugal) to control the negotiations. Once Talleyrand was able to use this committee to make himself a part of the inner negotiations, he then left it, [28] once again abandoning his allies.

The major Allies' indecision on how to conduct their affairs without provoking a united protest from the lesser powers led to the calling of a preliminary conference on the protocol, to which Talleyrand and the Marquis of Labrador, Spain's representative, were invited on 30 September 1814.

Congress Secretary Friedrich von Gentz reported, "The intervention of Talleyrand and Labrador has hopelessly upset all our plans. Talleyrand protested against the procedure we have adopted and soundly [be]rated us for two hours. It was a scene I shall never forget." [29] The embarrassed representatives of the Allies replied that the document concerning the protocol they had arranged actually meant nothing. "If it means so little, why did you sign it?" snapped Labrador.

Talleyrand's policy, directed as much by national as personal ambitions, demanded the close but by no means amicable relationship he had with Labrador, whom Talleyrand regarded with disdain. [30] Labrador later remarked of Talleyrand: "that cripple, unfortunately, is going to Vienna." [31] Talleyrand skirted additional articles suggested by Labrador: he had no intention of handing over the 12,000 afrancesados – Spanish fugitives, sympathetic to France, who had sworn fealty to Joseph Bonaparte, nor the bulk of the documents, paintings, pieces of fine art, and books that had been looted from the archives, palaces, churches and cathedrals of Spain. [32]

Polish-Saxon crisis

The most dangerous topic at the Congress was the Polish-Saxon Crisis. Russia wanted most of Poland, and Prussia wanted all of Saxony, whose king had allied with Napoleon. The tsar would become king of Poland. [33] Austria was fearful this would make Russia much too powerful, a view which was supported by Britain. The result was a deadlock, for which Talleyrand proposed a solution: admit France to the inner circle, and France would support Austria and Britain. The three nations signed a secret treaty on 3 January 1815, agreeing to go to war against Russia and Prussia, if necessary, to prevent the Russo-Prussian plan from coming to fruition. [34]

When the Tsar heard of the secret treaty he agreed to a compromise that satisfied all parties on 24 October 1815. Russia received most of the Napoleonic Duchy of Warsaw as a "Kingdom of Poland" – called Congress Poland, with the tsar as a king ruling it independently of Russia. Russia, however, did not receive the majority of Greater Poland and Kuyavia nor the Chełmno Land, which were given to Prussia and mostly included within the newly formed Grand Duchy of Posen (Poznań), nor Kraków, which oficially became a free city, but in fact was a shared protectorate of Austria, Prussia and Russia. Furthermore, the tsar was unable to unite the new domain with the parts of Poland that had been incorporated into Russia in the 1790s. Prussia received 60 percent of Saxony-later known as the Province of Saxony, with the remainder returned to King Frederick Augustus I as his Kingdom of Saxony. [35]

Final Act

Territories left to France in 1814, but removed after the Treaty of Paris in pink Gains territoriaux de la France en 1814.svg
Territories left to France in 1814, but removed after the Treaty of Paris in pink
Italian states after the Congress of Vienna with Austrian-annexed territories shown in yellow Italia 1815.png
Italian states after the Congress of Vienna with Austrian-annexed territories shown in yellow

The Final Act, embodying all the separate treaties, was signed on 9 June 1815 (a few days before the Battle of Waterloo). Its provisions included:

The Final Act was signed by representatives of Austria, France, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Sweden-Norway, and Britain. Spain did not sign the treaty but ratified it in 1817.

Other changes

Alexander I of Russia considered himself a guarantor of European security. Alexander I of Russia by G.Dawe (1826, Peterhof).jpg
Alexander I of Russia considered himself a guarantor of European security.

The Congress's principal results, apart from its confirmation of France's loss of the territories annexed between 1795 and 1810, which had already been settled by the Treaty of Paris, were the enlargement of Russia, (which gained most of the Duchy of Warsaw) and Prussia, which acquired the district of Poznań, Swedish Pomerania, Westphalia and the northern Rhineland. The consolidation of Germany from the nearly 300 states of the Holy Roman Empire (dissolved in 1806) into a much less complex system of thirty-nine states (4 of which were free cities) was confirmed. These states formed a loose German Confederation under the leadership of Austria.[ citation needed ]

Representatives at the Congress agreed to numerous other territorial changes. By the Treaty of Kiel, Norway had been ceded by the king of Denmark-Norway to the king of Sweden. This sparked the nationalist movement which led to the establishment of the Kingdom of Norway on May 17, 1814 and the subsequent personal Union with Sweden. Austria gained Lombardy-Venetia in Northern Italy, while much of the rest of North-Central Italy went to Habsburg dynasties (the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Modena, and the Duchy of Parma). [40]

The Papal States were restored to the Pope. The Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was restored to its mainland possessions, and also gained control of the Republic of Genoa. In Southern Italy, Napoleon's brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, was originally allowed to retain his Kingdom of Naples, but his support of Napoleon in the Hundred Days led to the restoration of the Bourbon Ferdinand IV to the throne. [41]

A large United Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed for the Prince of Orange, including both the old United Provinces and the formerly Austrian-ruled territories in the Southern Netherlands. Other, less important, territorial adjustments included significant territorial gains for the German Kingdoms of Hanover (which gained East Frisia from Prussia and various other territories in Northwest Germany) and Bavaria (which gained the Rhenish Palatinate and territories in Franconia). The Duchy of Lauenburg was transferred from Hanover to Denmark, and Prussia annexed Swedish Pomerania. Switzerland was enlarged, and Swiss neutrality was established. Swiss mercenaries had played a significant role in European wars for a couple of hundred years: Congress intended to put a stop to these activities permanently.[ citation needed ]

During the wars, Portugal had lost its town of Olivenza to Spain and moved to have it restored. Portugal is historically Britain's oldest ally, and with British support succeeded in having the re-incorporation of Olivenza decreed in Article CV of the General Treaty of the Final Act, which stated that "The Powers, recognizing the justice of the claims of ... Portugal and the Brazils, upon the town of Olivenza, and the other territories ceded to Spain by the Treaty of Badajoz of 1801". Portugal ratified the Final Act in 1815 but Spain would not sign, and this became the most important hold-out against the Congress of Vienna. Deciding in the end that it was better to become part of Europe than to stand alone, Spain finally accepted the Treaty on 7 May 1817; however, Olivenza and its surroundings were never returned to Portuguese control and this issue remains unresolved. [42]

The United Kingdom received parts of the West Indies at the expense of the Netherlands and Spain and kept the former Dutch colonies of Ceylon and the Cape Colony as well as Malta and Heligoland. Under the Treaty of Paris (1814) Article VIII France ceded to Britain the islands of "Tobago and Saint Lucia, and of the Isle of France and its dependencies, especially Rodrigues and Les Seychelles", [43] [44] and under the Treaty between Great Britain and Austria, Prussia and Russia, respecting the Ionian Islands (signed in Paris on 5 November 1815), as one of the treaties signed during the Peace of Paris (1815), Britain obtained a protectorate over the United States of the Ionian Islands. [45]

Later criticism

The Congress of Vienna has frequently been criticized by 19th century and more recent historians for ignoring national and liberal impulses, and for imposing a stifling reaction on the Continent. [1] It was an integral part in what became known as the Conservative Order, in which the democracy and civil rights associated with the American and French Revolutions were de-emphasized. [1]

In the 20th century, however, many historians came to admire the statesmen at the Congress, whose work prevented another widespread European war for nearly 100 years (1815–1914). Among these is Henry Kissinger, who in 1954 wrote his doctoral dissertation, A World Restored , on it. Historian Mark Jarrett argues that the Congress of Vienna and the Congress System marked "the true beginning of our modern era". He says the Congress System was deliberate conflict management and was the first genuine attempt to create an international order based upon consensus rather than conflict. "Europe was ready," Jarrett states, "to accept an unprecedented degree of international cooperation in response to the French Revolution." [46] Historian Paul Schroeder argues that the old formulae for "balance of power" were in fact highly destabilizing and predatory. He says the Congress of Vienna avoided them and instead set up rules that produced a stable and benign equilibrium. [47] The Congress of Vienna was the first of a series of international meetings that came to be known as the Concert of Europe, which was an attempt to forge a peaceful balance of power in Europe. It served as a model for later organizations such as the League of Nations in 1919 and the United Nations in 1945.

Before the opening of the Paris peace conference of 1918, the British Foreign Office commissioned a history of the Congress of Vienna to serve as an example to its own delegates of how to achieve an equally successful peace. [48] Besides, the main decisions of the Congress were made by the Four Great Powers and not all the countries of Europe could extend their rights at the Congress. The Italian peninsula became a mere "geographical expression" as divided into seven parts: Lombardy–Venetia, Modena, Naples–Sicily, Parma, Piedmont–Sardinia, Tuscany, and the Papal States under the control of different powers. [49] Poland remained partitioned between Russia, Prussia and Austria, with the largest part, the newly created Kingdom of Poland, remaining under Russian control.

The arrangements made by the Four Great Powers sought to ensure future disputes would be settled in a manner that would avoid the terrible wars of the previous 20 years. [50] Although the Congress of Vienna preserved the balance of power in Europe, it could not check the spread of revolutionary movements across the continent some 30 years later.

See also

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  3. Treaty of Paris (1814) Article XXXII
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  6. ( Nicolson 1946 , pp. 118–133)
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  8. Kissinger, A World Restored (1957) pp 29-36.
  9. Nicolson 1946, p. 158.
  10. Walter M. Simon, "Prince Hardenberg." Review of Politics 18.1 (1956): 88-99. online
  11. Harold E. Blinn, "New Light on Talleyrand at the Congress of Vienna." Pacific Historical Review 4.2 (1935): 143-160. online
  12. Bernard, J.F. (1973). Talleyrand: A Biography. New York: Putnam. p. 371. ISBN   0-399-11022-4.
  13. Treaty between Great Britain and Portugal, January 22, 1815. 5 George IV. London: His Majesty's Statute and Law Printers. 1824. p. 650.
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  18. "[Castlereagh, during his stay in The Hague, in January 1813] induced the Dutch to leave their interests entirely in British hands" ( Nicolson 1946 , p. 65).
  19. Nicolson, Harold (1946). The Congress of Vienna; a Study in Allied Unity, 1812–1822. Constable & Company. p.  197.: "Baron von Gagern – one of the two plenipotentiaries for the Netherlands."
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  24. Fritz Apian-Bennewitz: Leopold von Plessen und die Verfassungspolitik der deutschen Kleinstaaten auf dem Wiener Kongress 1814/15. Eutin: Ivens 1933; Hochschulschrift: Rostock, Univ., Diss., 1933
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  26. Zamoyski, Adam (2007). Rites of Peace; the Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. HarperCollins Publishers. pp.  258, 295. ISBN   978-0-06-077518-6.
  27. According to King 2008 , p. [ page needed ], it was Prince de Ligne, an attendee at the conference, who wryly quipped, "the congress does not move forward, it dances". ("Le congrès danse beaucoup, mais il ne marche pas.")
  28. William, Sir Ward Adolphus (2009). The Period of Congresses, BiblioLife, p. 13. ISBN   1-113-44924-1
  29. Susan Mary Alsop (1984). The Congress Dances. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers. p. 120.
  30. Wenceslao Ramírez de Villa-Urrutia, Marqués de Villa-Urrutia, España en el Congreso de Viena según la correspondencia de D. Pedro Gómez Labrador, Marqués de Labrador. Segunda Edición Corregida y Aumentada (Madrid: Francisco Beltrán, 1928), 13.
  31. Antonio Rodríguez-Moñino (ed.), Cartas Políticas (Badajoz: Imprenta Provincial, 1959), 14 (Letter IV, 10 July 1814). Labrador's letters are full of such pungent remarks, and include his opinions on bad diplomats, the state of the postal system, the weather, and his non-existent salary and coach and accompanying livery for the Congress.
  32. Villa-Urrutia, España en el Congreso de Viena, 61–2. Joseph had left Madrid with a huge baggage train containing pieces of art, tapestries, and mirrors. The most rapacious of the French was Marshal Nicolas Soult, who left Spain with entire collections, which disappeared to unknown, separate locations around the world. According to Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño, at least "[the paintings] have come to spread the prestige of Spanish art around the whole word."
  33. Zawadzki, W.H. (1985). "Russia and the Re-Opening of the Polish Question, 1801-1814". International History Review . 7 (1): 19–44. doi:10.1080/07075332.1985.9640368.
  34. Nicolson, Sir Harold (2001). The Congress of Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity: 1812–1822 Grove Press; Rep. Ed. pp. 140–164. ISBN   0-8021-3744-X
  35. Webster (1913), pp. 49–101.
  36. Couvée, D.H.; G. Pikkemaat (1963). 1813–15, ons koninkrijk geboren. Alphen aan den Rijn: N. Samsom nv. pp. 127–130.
  37. Bernard, p. 415.
  38. 1 2 Bernard, p. 417.
  39. Bernard, p. 411.
  40. Stearns, Peter N.; Langer, William Leonard (2001). The Encyclopedia of world history: ancient, medieval, and modern (6th ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p.  440. ISBN   0-395-65237-5.
  41. Stearns & Langer 2001, p. 440.
  42. Hammond 1966, p. [ page needed ].
  43. Treaty of Paris (1814) Article VIII
  44. "Seychelles - History". Encyclopedia Britannica. 27 September 2016.
  45. Hammond, Richard James (1966). Portugal and Africa, 1815-1910 : a study in uneconomic imperialism. Stanford University Press. p. 2. ISBN   0-8047-0296-9.
  46. Mark Jarrett, The Congress of Vienna and Its Legacy: War and Great Power Diplomacy after Napoleon (2013) pp. 353, xiv, 187.
  47. Schroeder 1992, pp. 683–706.
  48. Ragsdale, Hugh – Ponomarev, V. N. (1993). Imperial Russian foreign policy, Cambridge University Press; 1st ed. ISBN   0-521-44229-X
  49. Benedict, Bertram (2008). A History of the Great War, BiblioLife. Vol. I, p. 7, ISBN   0-554-41246-2
  50. Willner, Mark – Hero, George – Weiner, Jerry Global (2006). History Volume I: The Ancient World to the Age of Revolution, Barron's Educational Series, p. 520. ISBN   0-7641-5811-2

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Coordinates: 48°12′30″N16°21′50″E / 48.20840°N 16.36378°E / 48.20840; 16.36378