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Lecture 25

HIS103Y1 Lecture 25: From the Congress System to the Concert of Europe


Department
History
Course Code
HIS103Y1
Professor
Denis Smyth
Lecture
25

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FromCongressSystemtotheConcertofEurope
● Territorialsettlementsareapreconditionforafunctional,consensusbasedinternationalorder
● CastlereaghwastheonewhoinsistedthatFranceshouldreceiveratherlenienttreatment
○ Healsoestablished‘shockabsorbers’(bufferstates)tothesoutheastandsouthwestof
France,whichalsobelongedtoothergreatpowers
● AsupremeexampleoftheCongresssystemwastheCongressofAixlaChapelle
● By1820,anideologicalsplitcausedbytheoutbreakofrevolutionsinSpainandNapleswould
threatenedtheinternationalorder
● Revolutionsbroughtuptheprospectofwhetherornotthegreatpowers(undertheCongress
system)couldaffordtotoleratesuchinternalstrife
○ Metternicharguedthatgreatpowersshouldinterveneinanotherpowers’internalaffairs
● MetternichbelievedthatEuropeanorderwasestablishedonthebasisofcollectivesecurity
● AlexanderandMetternichproposedanotherCongress;theTreatyofTropeinNovember1819
● CastlereaghmadeanofficialpaperregardingofficialBritishforeignpolicylaterin1819
○ May1820:“Weshallbefoundinourplacewhenactualdangermenacesthesystemof
Europe,butthiscountrycannot,andwillnotactuponabstractandspeculativeprinciplesof
precaution.”
■ ThepoliticalconflictresembledsomethingsimilartotheColdWar
● ThePapuaProtocolestablishedthatthegreatpowersneededto:
○ Takecollectiveaction(tocometotheaidofanypower)withregardstoanydeclineofpower
■ LiberalEuropeanpowerswereconcernedoverwhetherornottheyshouldintervene
○ Greatpowersultimatelyagreedtoputdownliberaldissent
● Althoughanxioustohavelegalauthoritiesinvolved,Metternichwasnotanxiousaboutallowing
Russianstoinvolvethemselves,particularlyinsouthernItaly
○ Metternichdeclined,underthefearofhavingAustriaputinaRussiansphereofinfluence
● 1821:GreekRebellionoccurs,givingRussiaanexcusetousetocombattheirancientOttoman
enemies
○ MetternichwantedtokeepalinewithBritainoverthemattersothattheycouldpossiblyaid
theEuropeansinvolved
■ The‘Holy’AllianceturnedouttoensurethatideologicalmatterscouldnotdivideEurope
● HAannouncedanintentiontoputdownstrifeinSpainandtoreestablishSpain’scolonial
empireintheAmericas
● InSpain,therewasnoconsensusamongitspowersatVeronain1822
○ Asmuchashewantedtohavethestrifeputdown,MetternichvetoesRussianinvolvement
becauseheagainwantedAustriatoremainRussianfree
○ Franceinsteadintervenes
● Apoliticalwatershedwasformedasaresultoftheseincidents
● Castlereagh'ssuccessor,Canning,saysthis:“Thingsaregettingbacktoahealthystateof
affairsagain…everynationforitself.”
○ Herealizedthatthetraditionalmethodofconsolidatingabalanceofpowercouldnowbedone
■ MetternichacknowledgedthetruthofCanning’sthoughts;heabandonedtheideaofregular
meetingsasameanstokeepthesystemfunctional
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