The Congress of Vienna: 1814-1815 Nov. 22, 2010 Napoleonic Empire: 1813



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The Congress of Vienna: 1814-1815 Nov. 22, 2010

Napoleonic Empire: 1813



  • Took west of the Austrian and Ottoman Empires (not Portugal or GB)

The Defeat of Napoleon

  • Napoleon initially defeated at the Battle of Nations in 1813

  • European nations unsure how to proceed

    • Who would negotiate with Napoleon?

  • Led to the Frankfurt Proposals

Frankfurt Proposals

  • Following the defeat at Leipzig, Metternich offers the proposals

  • Napoleon would remain French emperor

  • France would retain its natural “Rhine” frontier

  • Napoleon rejects the proposals

  • 3 weeks later, Napoleon defeated by Quadruple Alliance

Quadruple Alliance

  • Russia, Prussia, Austria, England

    • Agreed to work together to stop any war or threat to the balance of power

      • Would meet in Congress to discuss

      • Austria saw this as defending the status quo

      • France is continually viewed as a potential violator

    • “Concert of Europe”

Abdication of Napoleon

  • As a part of the Treaty of Paris, 1814

    • Napoleon abdicated throne

    • Exiled to Elba

    • Bourbon Restoration

      • Louis XVIII

    • Congress of Vienna meets for first time in Sept. 1814

The Congress of Vienna

  • Napoleon escapes Elba and begins his 100 days of rule

    • Defeated by Quadruple Alliance

  • Congress of Vienna continues to meet informally and concludes 9 days prior to Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo

The Congress System

  • Congress of Vienna was first in a series called the Congress System

    • Diplomats wanted to preserve peace

    • “Gentleman’s Agreement”

      • Verbal, no constitution

    • Where conflict could lead to war – meeting to discuss resolution

    • Early origins of international cooperation

      • 1815-Congress of Vienna

      • 1818-Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (where France was included)

      • 1820-Congress of Troppau

      • 1821-Congress of Laibach

      • 1822-Congress of Verona

The Dancing Congress

  • Pageantry, parties, balls

    • Banquets like pre 1789

  • Meant to generate good will between delegates

    • Occupy their time since there was often no serious nature of work going on

The Congress of Vienna: Goals and Accomplishment

The Goal of the Congress of Vienna



  • Draw an acceptable peace agreement in Europe

    • No great rewards

    • No great punishments

    • Redraw the map of Europe as it existed pre-1789 in order to ensure peace & stability

      • Status quo ante bellum

  • Leaders at the congress agreed to a balance of power in Europe

    • Ensuring that no country could dominate the continent, politically & militarily as France had done

Overall Accomplishments of the Congress

  • Balanced settlement which ensured no major conflict for 40 years and then until 1914

    • Crimean War: 1854-1856

  • Included France

    • Kind to France, so as not to lead to feelings of revenge



  • Ignored demands for greater democracy and nationalism

    • Led to many issues in the 1800’s between & within countries

  • Desire to restore monarchies

    • Principle of Legitimacy

Principle of Legitimacy

  • Restore power to monarchs

  • Return to power to ruling families deposed after two decades of revolution

    • Bourbons in France, Spain and Naples

    • Dynasties in Holland

    • Papal States returned to the Pope

The German States

  • German Confederacy was set up to replace the HRE

  • German states reduced from over 300 to 39

  • Bicameral Diet established with delegates, presided by Austria

  • Each state retained independence, was forbidden between states

  • Consent of Confederacy necessary for foreign war

Condemnation of the Slave Trade

  • In Feb. 1815 the Congress condemned the slave trade

  • Inconsistent with civilization & human rights

The Delegates at the Congress

Prince Klemens von Metternich: Objectives (Austria)



  • Restore Europe to pre-French Revolution

  • Dominated Congress

  • Rejected ideas of French Revolution

  • Conservative, resisted change

    • Despised democracy & nationalism

  • 1815-1848

    • Anti-democratic policies followed throughout W. Europe

Lord Castlereagh: Objectives (England)

  • To ensure France would never again become a dominant power in Europe

    • Determined to diminish the prestige and influence of France

    • Encircle France with larger and stronger states guaranteeing a balance of power

Czar Alexander I: Objectives (Russia)

  • To organize an alliance system (Holy Alliance) of Christian monarchs to fight revolutions throughout the world

    • Ineffective, idealistic, existed only on paper

    • Britain & Pope didn’t join

  • Wanted a free and independent Poland

    • With himself as King of Poland

    • Gave him part of Poland

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand: Objectives (France)

  • Wanted to ensure that France would retain the rank of a major power in Europe

  • Plays the role of mediator between Prussia/Russia and England/Austria

  • Divide and Conquer-divided enemies and used it against them

  • Allies with England and Austria

Treachery of Talleyrand

  • 1808-1809

    • Talleyrand secretly in touch with Alexander I

    • What would happen after Napoleon’s overthrow

    • Metternich’s famous comment

      • “A lump of shit in a silk stocking”

        • Vous estes de la merde dans un bas de soie”

Karl von Hardenber: Objectives (Prussia)

  • Wanted to recover Prussian territory that was lost to Napoleon in 1807

  • Wanted additional territory in Northern Germany (Saxony)

  • Metternich’s puppet

  • Wanted to pull France apart (but that’s ok Audrey…there’s no need)

Who Got What?

  • Compensation rewarded to states who made considerable sacrifices to defeat Napoleon

  • England

    • Naval bases

      • Malta, Ceylon, Cape of Good Hope

  • Austria

    • Lombardy, Venetia, Galicia, Illyrian Province (Adriatic Sea)

  • Russia

    • Most of Poland, Finland

    • Alexander I became constitutional monarch of Poland (still autocratic czar of Russia)



  • Prussia

    • The Rhineland, part of Poland

  • Sweden

    • Norway

  • Netherland strengthened

  • Prussia gets Rhenish land

    • Eastern border of France

  • Switzerland guaranteed neutrality

    • Southeastern border of France

  • German Confederation

    • Eastern border of France

  • Sardinia adds Genoa

    • Southern border of France

  • France keeps their land

Congress of Vienna: Comments

  • The confederation of German states & re-division of Italy led to 19th c. unification activity

  • Britain appeared to gain little

  • Liberalism/Nationalism halted, albeit briefly

  • Russia enters as a West European power from 1815 onwards

    • Plays an important role in European diplomacy

  • Caused World War I


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