The congress of Viena and the congress system
Key words Notes
The Congress of Vienna There would be no free for all for any great power. All great powers,
established a great power system for a century after 1815 would be the first all embracive break
which confined and limited the many down in the great power system established by congress of Vienna
subsequent wars. and the statesmen who participated. There would be wars, although
they were all-important, were still contained, limited, and confined
within the Framework of the system established in 1814-1815.
There are no more remarkable phenomena in terms of
peacemaking, system building or international order construction
better than the example of Congress of Vienna.
The Primary treaty of Vienna was One primary settlement made during the Vienna Congress 0f 1814-
a territorial one. It sought to contain 1815 was a territorial one. Certainty largely designed to contain any
France and any future aggression outbreaks or reemergence of a French champion to reestablish the
that may arise from post-Napoleonic
order. The buffer states established alongside France frontiers to
- Establishment of buffer zones to - Northeast unified kingdom of the low countries (Holland
act as shock absorbers. Belgium were joined for at least a decade and a half)
- Establishment of Unified - Prussian power, which was expanded and strengthen in the
Northeast Kingdom (Holland neighborhood.
- Northern Italy, traditional French expansion ground, was
- Northeastern establishment of a carefully territorially balanced to contain France through the
regional balance of power kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont-northwestern Italy as any
through the establishment of shock absorber. Furthermore it was backed by Austria.
kingdoms of Sardinia and - Austria was heavily restored as the great power in northern
Peidmount Italy. Not only with its traditional province of Lombardy, but
- Austria was given Lombardy, also given a northeastern Italian province of Venetia. All to back
and Venetia to back Sardinia if up Sardinia as a barrier against future aggression and challenge
any challenges arose. to the revived international order.
Austria were to become too bigheaded or too powerful, Piedmont
and Sardinia were also well aware it had to remember that it
needed British naval power to survive. So there was local balance of
powers that contributed to the overall functioning international
Equally it was necessary to check and contain the Russian power.
The Perturbatory Powers: term Although it was part of European coalition that had defeated
coined by Metternich to countries napoleon, they were also what Metternich referred as “The
Perturbatory Powers”. Along with France, Metternich argued,
- Defeated Napoleonic France especially in his dialogue with the Castlereagh, that ultimately there
- Were on the rise as great power were two sources of historic challenge to International order and
states and were challenging an stability in Europe.
threatening to other states. - France to West
- Were always seeking ways to - Russia to the east
expand their territories
- Were considered the Perturbatory Powers: powers that were
- Metternich also argued that restless and always wanted to expand. They were dynamically France was becoming a challenging and threatened the powers that other states wanted
perturbatory power. to enjoy the quite life and sustain peace.
Vienna Settlement tried to solve - So the Vienna Settlement had not only contained future French
the problem of perturbatory powers aggression, but also guarded against Russian domination over
by containing Russia in the east and the system.
France in the west. This territorial settlement was a solid base which they built the
existing order. It I also true that the material foundation, the
geographical location situation of peoples and states isn’t a self-
sufficient explanation of who rises, who falls and what makes
history really move. It is ultimately the human factor. The decision
of policy makers and give it a political system, that ultimate
determine war and peace.
In order to facilitate the kind of cooperation and collaboration, and
to facilitate and encourage the emergence of necessary
collaboration and cooperation, in the end systemic concusses
necessary to underpin a functioning international order. In order to
achieve that critical breakthrough, coinocoually building of law and
order between and amongst nations, it was necessary, for the
statesmen gathered at Vienna also to turn their mind to institutions.
To some mechanism, to some administrative arrangements to
nurture their embryonic order into existence and into a functioning
The primary institutional arrangement suggested, and this was one
that would naturally out rule their experiences in fighting napoleon,
this was an institutional mechanism. This was an institution heavily
championed by Castlereagh. He noted that many of the problems
that had threaten to spilt the coalition had been resolved, settled or
reclosed by person to person negotiations. Individual states were
Castlereagh noted that most coming together and thrashing them out in person.
conflicts in the past had been He took that as a model of paradigm for the mechanism that he
resolved either between powers or thought might serve best to maintain that international unity in
on an individual level. So he
Peace as it had ultimately held it together in war.
suggested an institution where By article six of the Quadruple alliance, treaty of Defensive Alliance
everyone could gather and sort out nov 1815”…the high contracting parties have agreed to renew their
every problem. meetings at fixed periods… for the purpose of consulting upon their
- Under article 6 of the Defensive common interest and…for the maintenance of the peace of Europe”.
Alliance treaty such an idea was That article founded the congress system.
bought to light.
- The whole of the periodic congresses, at which the rulers of the
- A European congress was European great powers, or their primary representatives, (e.g
formed to maintain international Castlereagh for Britain,)
unity and peace. - The rulers themselves and forgien ministers would attend these
Congress (institution) periodic gathering to confront ant inevitable challenges that
- Rulers or their representatives
would gather and confront the would emerge over the future years, sooner or later to the
hierarchy of power and structure of authority settled by the
challenges that might have congress of Vienna. emerged. Initially, the congress system seemed dead. Three years passed by
without anyone really getting togther. There were some bilateral
Years passed and no one really meetings, but later 1817, but it was clear that something needed to
gathered at the Congress. Meanwhile be done to deal with emerging challenges to the existing order.
challenges still arose in Europe. One One such challenge came from France. France had been defeated,
such challenge was France. military occupied and about to be presented by a major financial bill
- Huge financial bill from war done by the Napoleonic wars. France was restless under foreign
- Military occupied dictator and occupation.
- Under foreign rule
The commander of the international force now occupying the major
cities in France, The British hero of the Napoleonic wars-the Duke
of Wellington won over, not only his own government, but the
chancelleries of the other great European powers that French
opinion was becoming decisive at the allies because of the ongoing
Duke of Wellington: military occupation.
- British war Hero
- Wellington said the best thing for the future security of Europe
- Suggested that they end military was to get out of France immediately.
occupation of France because it - A continuing military presence would only provoke the local
was becoming bitter towards people and not likely actually revive any real real security for
- More other alienated France the more likely it was to become
Two challenges for the Congress
once more a dynamic challenge to the order and stability and
- An agitated France peace in Europe.
- An overeager Russia This was enough of a problem for Vienn