Congress of Vienna

Congress of Vienna put an end to one of the most ambitious attempts to unify Europe – the one undertaken by Napoleon in the beginning of the XIX century. Constituting and constructing disintegration – the Congress was mainly about that – was, ironically, its main achievement. By showing how integration should not be achieved, the bosses of European diplomacy succeeded in forming a firm basis for long-lasting stability on the continent, which at the time meant “in the world”. Defeating Napoleon was not an easy task.Despite the fact that France was overwhelmed by several subsequent coalitions in terms of demographic, industrial, economic and military potential, its strategic advantages in organization, mobilization and ideology as well as distrust and suspicion among its primary rivals (first of all those between Great Britain and Russia) allowed for some brilliant victories, both military and diplomatic. Napoleon succeeded in conquering significant part of the continent and spreading ideology onto its bigger part. Those two aspects became of primary concern for post-war settlement.Reducing France’s geopolitical capacities and minimizing ideological damage: these were goals common for all long-standing traditional rivals such as Prussia and Russia, Russia and Austria, Britain and Austria and Britain and Russia. The rise of France to a hegemonic position was rapid. In 1802 Napoleon was pronounced a life-long first Council. In May of 1804 he became Emperor. Since 1808 France turned into Empire. Imperial power of France was original. It was built, unlike many others, on the ideological basis. Civil Code, elaborated in France was implemented in every captured territory.French power spread via a number of satellite states in Europe. It was not usual to use this kind of approach, while most empires were built upon technical, technological or cultural domination. Already in times of Consulate Napoleon started his great affair. In 1800 after Second Italian Campaign Austria was defeated. France gained territories on the left bank of Rein and Belgium. On the 2 of December Napoleon defeated Austrian and Russian armies at Austerlitz, which made Austria withdraw from Italian and German affairs and to accept Napoleon’s rule over Venice.In 1806 Prussian army was defeated and French Emperor entered Berlin. In 1807 Alexander I of Russia signed Tilsit treaty with Napoleon. In 1808 French army occupied Madrid. During first decade of the XIX century Napoleon created a chain of satellite states along French borders, headed by his own relatives. This gave him considerable advantages. French superiority over European states which was formed under Louis XIV now began to turn into hegemony, threatening virtually every other actor on European political scene.By 1810 Napoleon was left with no big rivals in Europe except isolated England and rebelling Spain. His next step was to impose a blockade on the first by obliging all satellites to stop trade relations with England and to initiate a preventive war against the latter. This was a pre-defined mistake, which was inescapable and practically pre-destined by the previous foreign policy. By ruining buffer states in the Central Europe Napoleon raised security concerns and made balance of power ineffective.Thus the major war with Russia (and subsequently formed coalition) was a question of “when”. In 1812 was the answer. Large French army invaded Russia and rapidly moved far to the East. After a battle of Borodino Napoleon managed to capture Moscow, the second most important city of Russia after St. -Petersburg. But that was a Pirr’s victory. Alexander I did not sign a peace treaty and Napoleon shortly had to withdraw. That inspired both Russians and their allies. A new anti-Napoleonic coalition included Russia, England, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, Spain and Portugal.Defeated at Leipzig in October 1813, Napoleon had from now on to fight for French territory. On the 31 of March 1814 allied forces entered Paris. Napoleon was “replaced” by Louis XVIII in the act of restoration. The Congress of Vienna started in September of 1814 and lasted till June of 1815. Its main goals included the following: – to settle territorial problems in Europe in such a way that a balance of power and interests is restored; – to limit opportunities for future hegemonic policies by any European state;- to guarantee ideological homogeneity of European politics; – to create a mechanism for dealing with disputes in Europe involving big powers. The Congress was hosted by Vienna, the capital of Austria. The Austrian Emperor Francis I was joined by several other monarchs, among them Alexander I of Russia and William III of Prussia. The delegations included ministers, chancellors, diplomats and nobles, all in all forming a splendid company which is now famous for dancing evenings not less than for elaborating foundations for future European politics.Metternich, Austrian chancellor, was the head of the Congress. Russian delegation headed by Alexander I included also Count Nesselrode; Britain was represented by Lord Castlereagh and duke of Wellington; delegation of Prussia also included Prince Karl August von Hardenberg, von Humboldt and von Stein. France was represented by Talleyrand, an experienced politician and diplomat, serving under Napoleon, who had an important influence upon negotiations. What had to become a demolition of France and a mere dictate, due to his skills turned into almost a diplomatic victory.Main decisions on the outlined topics were taken by four major powers, which have previously reached peace agreement with France (under Paris Peace Treaty of 1814). The majority of delegates, representing small states gad no influence over the Congress, although by exploiting their interests Talleyrand managed to increase France’s participation in major decisions significantly. Talleyrand managed to ruin the political unity of the victorious powers. As a result two “sub-coalitions” emerged: England and Austria united against Russia and Prussia.The former were primarily interested in restoring and preserving pre-Napoleonic status-quo with Austria being a regional hegemon in German affairs and watching the Balkans. The latter were trying to change things a bit by spreading Russian sphere of influence in the Balkans and in Turkish territories, and strengthening Prussian influence in Germany. The problem was not finally resolved. A compromise achieved was based on the idea of German confederation replacing Hoy Roman Empire, which was soon proved to be ineffective mechanism for solving numerous conflicts in the Central Europe.Talleyrand put forward the idea of legitimism, according to which all territorial gains since French revolution became null and void. Political systems of all states were to be preserved in their pre-1792 conditions. The goal here was to keep France’s “natural boundaries”, and that goal was achieved. France thus lost all territories conquered by Napoleon. Among those Austrian Netherlands and the Dutch Republic were unified to form the Kingdom of Netherlands. Swiss state was restored and declared neutral. Sweden had joined Norway. Spain restored its sovereignty under king Ferdinand VII.Other territorial changes were made in a fashion of traditional European diplomacy, e. i. according to the participation in the war and having in mind balance of interests. Russia gained a former Prussian part of Poland, divided in the second part of the XVIII century, – territories around Warsaw, which earlier was created by Napoleon. Prussia in turned gained Rein region and Westphalia – economically developed provinces, which were to add arguments for future Prussian disputes with Austria for domination in Germany. Another gain for Prussia was much part of Saxony.Two Italian provinces – Lombardy and Venice – were taken by Austria. German Confederation of 39 states appeared instead of 255 small states, with Austria and Prussia being the biggest among them. The Constitution of the Confederation, adopted on the 8 of June 1815 turned it into mainly defensive alliance with a very weak unity. The same was true about Italy, the unification of which was postponed for almost some 50 years. Naples and Sicily remained under French rule. The Papal State was restored. Parma and Piacenza were given to French Empress for lifetime.Tuscany and Modena were restored to the house of Habsburg-Lorraine. The kingdom of Sardinia was restored. Great Britain retained Ceylon and Cape colony, as well as secured Malta, which strengthened her strategic positions and guaranteed naval superiority – a major component of British power in the XIX century. Pomerania was given to Prussia in a series of mutual compensations among Denmark, Sweden and Prussia. After Napoleon’s “hundred days” a new peace treaty was signed with France on the 20 of November 1815. After the end of the Congress a new “world order” emerged.Aimed at creating balance of power which would limit the scope of conflicts and guarantee the security of monarchies, the leaders also tool steps to “institutialize” the process. The creation of Quadruple Alliance and, further, Holy Alliance were important in this regard. The so called “Concert of Europe” was, in fact, a decisive unified will of major states concerning most important problems of the agenda. That gave some considerable advantages. International relations of “self-help egoists” under Westphalian order were much more prone to violence.Lack of organizational or institutional unity and surplus of territorial claims and fears made often although limited wars inevitable. Instead, the presence of unified interest in what concerned ideology (with the exception of British and, after a revolution, French position) and a strong desire to avoid major large-scale wars like those, waged by Napoleon, were highly stabilizing. Old disputes remained and new ones emerged. Struggle for influence and territorial control was never easy. But the range of methods was limited and escalations phases cut.The very fashion of the Congress, which was also aimed at formulating some general norms of diplomatic protocol, was optimistic. For the most part, although that optimism disappeared with the first disputes arising in Germany, Belgium and Italy. Events of 1848-9 demonstrated weak points in international system. But the balance of power was still functioning with just several breakdowns like the Crimean War of 1853-6 or later wars waged by Prussia. Except different territorial changes, the Congress approved some “general” things and principles, such as condemnation of slavery and slave trade and promoting freedom of seas and rivers.All that had a far-reaching impact on trade and economic development – which are among the main factors determining the situation on the eve of World War I. Short-term consequences of the Congress seemed familiar. They dealt with territorial changes and were expected to lead to new disputes and wars. But somehow that was nit the case for many years. Some see the spread of liberal ideas, promoted among others by Alexander I of Russia, as the reason for that. But democratic peace of that time was much more different from that of our days. It seems like the key to peace was the long-term effects of the Congress.Among them was the creation of balance of power, guaruanteed by flexible coalitions. No state had an incentive to provoke a major conflict – deterring abilities of opponents were considerably higher than a potential for attack of any of the big powers. All that had significantly changed after unification of Italy and Germany. By 1871 there were no “free territories” left at the heart of Europe. The development of the strong was possible only at the expense of the weak. Alliances became more stable and less flexible. That led for a bipolar confrontation and subsequently – to a large-scale war.Sources Used1. http://members. aol. com/varnix/congress/ 2. http://www. pvhs. chico. k12. ca. us/~bsilva/projects/congress/vienessy. html 3. http://killeenroos. com/4/vienna/DELEGATE. htm 4. http://www. bartleby. com/65/vi/Vienna-C. html