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HIS103Y1 Lecture Notes - Carl Von Clausewitz, French Revolution, Habsburg Monarchy

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Vasilis Dimitriadis

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HIS103Y Lecture 24 January 9th.
The Congress of Vienna and the Congress System
Post Napoleonic era is marked by people and nations coming to terms with the
destruction and self-destruction that sprung up from Napoleonic wars and learning
to live in peace and co-operation
This caused the conditions of international existence and relations to change
The source of the fighting, nationalism, rewrote the grand rule of international
‘Once barriers-which in a sense consist only in man’s ignorance of what is
possible are torn down they are not so easily set up again.’ (von Clausewitz, on
Von Clausewitz was trying to explain how now if powers knew how to mobilize
all their resources they could make a bid to dominate over other powers and gain
continental or world dominance
The statesmen at Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815 – had to deal with
this and try to find a way to contain there forces and rebuild an international order
Castlereagh, British Prime Minister on the suppression of Genoa independence
‘The Congress of Vienna was not assembled for the discussion of moral
principles, rather it was assembled to address great practical purposes … to
establish effectual provisions for the general security.’ (functioning international
The first treaty of Paris 30th May 1814 in a secret clause specified the goal of the
peacemakers, ‘The establishment of a real and permanent balance of power.’
Metternich thought that Anglo-Austrian co-operation could, with their power,
create a functioning international order and saw this as viable because Great
Britain and Austria had a vested interest in a balance of power
Great Britain’s trade empire would be best protected by a continental balance of
power, Austria has a vested interest in a balance of power because it is lodged in
between France and Russia and needed peace to secure its frontiers
France and Russia were called the Perturbatory powers by Metternich and did not
have an interest in a balance of power
Alexander I wanted to re-establish a Kingdom of Poland with him at the head of
its constitutional monarchy.
Alexander proposed to do this by swapping Prussia’s share of Poland for Saxony
This would be unfavourable for Austria and France
So Talleyrand French foreign minister trying to re-establish French power and
significance persuaded Vienna and London to confront Alexander
3rd January 1815 France, Great Britain and Austria signed alliance to fight Russia
if necessary
This forced Alexander I to back down and accept lesser terms
The Polish – Saxon crisis thus became the first proof of the functionality of the
new international order
Treaty of Chaumont March 1814, part of Congress of Vienna, military alliance
First Treaty of Paris May 1814 leaves France with some of its territorial gains
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