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HIS103Y Lecture 24 January 9th. The Congress of Vienna and the Congress System

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Vasilis Dimitriadis

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 existence • ‘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 war) • 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 order) • The first treaty of Paris 30 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 • 3 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 • Second Treaty of Paris 20 November 1815 – France’s borders rolled back to 1790 th • Treaty of Quadruple Alliance 20 November 1815 • Castlereagh didn’t want to alienate France, just protect Great Britain from French • So turned down Prussia proposal to detach Alsace-Lorraine and instead created series of buffer states. Holland and Belgium merged into one state • Prussians given territories in Rhine and Saarland – starts ‘watch on the Rhine’ and will eventually aid German unification • Piedmont-Sardinia enlarged with Lombardy and Venetia • Congress system article 6 of the Quadruple Alliance is the key cog though – ‘the high contracting parties have agreed to renew their meetings at fixed periods . . . for the purpose of consulting upon their common interests and . . . for the maintenance of the peace of Europe.’ Ver 2. - After Napoleon was defeated (Battle of Waterloo 1815), immense shock occurred (psychological impact & material devastation & incredible loss of life) because of ease of Napoleons destruction of international state system, and re-creation of another system. - The devastation (1792-1815) - more bloody battles than in three previous centuries combined, nobody took it easily; these battles affected every statesman. - Napoleon/France was the one individual/state managed to overthrow balance of power. - Consequently, congress sought to create new state system in Europe, so that no one would ever plunge system into such catastrophic war. Creating new state system was a tough task to approach. - Treaty of Utrecht & Treaty of Westphalia served the purpose of managing the existing. - The experience and the knowledge that resulted from Napoleon's wars (destruction of balance of power) was now available for other states. French revolution & Napoleon unleashed number of ideas: Nationalism & Liberalism. - Quadruple Alliance - ideological Christian/conservative alliance that sought to create ideological conservative front -during last year of war, 1814, allies sure of themselves that France would be defeated started bickering of what to do with France after war. - Prussia [after humiliation wanted to dismember France], Russia [keep France intact, put inside man, France turn into Russian satellite], England [British foreign minister {Castlereagh}, called meeting, no separate peace/ alliances with France, fight till France was defeated]; Austria). - Quadruple Alliance bonded for 20 years after Napoleon was defeated, 150 000 soldiers each so France would be overwhelmed. Every year there would be a meeting to discuss political development of Europe. - Quadruple alliance, i
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