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Prince Metternich, conductor of the Concert of Europe

The Concert of Europe, also known as the "Congress System," was the balance of power that existed in Europe from the fall of Napoleon in 1815 until the early 20th century. Its founding members were the UK, Austria, Russia and Prussia, the members of the Quadruple Alliance responsible for the downfall of Napoleon I; in time France became established as a fifth member of the "club". At first, the leading personalities of the system were British foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh, Austrian Chancellor Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich and Tsar Alexander I of Russia.

Among the meetings of the Powers were the Congresses of Vienna (1814-1815), Aix-la-Chappelle (1818), Carlsbad (1819), Verona (1822) and London in 1830, 1832, and 1838-1839. The Congress of Berlin in 1878 was the last; rivalries between the Powers made co-ordination difficult, and the Congress system disappeared with the outbreak of World War I.

Contents

Objectives

The Congress System's first primary objectives were to

  • contain France after decades of war
  • achieve a balance of power among Europe's great powers
  • uphold the territorial arrangements made at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815 and in doing so
  • prevent the rise of another Napoleon-esque figure which would result in another continent-wide war.
  • uphold the idea of legitimacy by putting the monarchy that Napoleon had driven out back on the throne

In this historians have generally agreed that they were successful as there was no major war pitting the Great Powers against each other until the Crimean War forty years later, and France was successfully re-integrated back into the European system, joining the alliance in 1818 at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle. After this early period of success, the Concert of Europe gradually fell apart, mainly because of disagreements between the great powers, particularly between Britain and the countries with more conservative constitutions (who were also members of the Holy Alliance). Despite the ultimate failure of the Congress System, it marked an important step in European and world diplomacy. In its approximately 85 years of life it had erected an imposing structure of international law.

History

The French Revolution of 1789 spurred a great fear among the leading powers in Europe of the lower classes violently rising against the Old powers to solve the pressing issues (mainly suppressing revolutions against monarchs) at the time; however, the Congress System began to deteriorate with Britain removing itself and a bitter debate over the Greek War of Independence. Even though one more Congress was held between the five major powers at St Petersburg in 1825, the Congress system had already broken down. Despite that, the "Great Powers" continued to meet and maintained peace in Europe. It started a framework of international diplomacy and negotiation in a continent torn by war. One good example of this is in 1827 when three of the Great Powers (Britain, France and Russia) joined in the Battle of Navarino to defeat an Ottoman fleet.

Results of the Concert

The Concert's principal accomplishment was the securing of independence of Greece (1830) and Belgium (1831). In 1840 the powers (except France) intervened in defence of the Ottoman Empire (against which they had supported Greece) to end Egypt's eight-year occupation of Syria.

Demise of the Concert

After an early period of success, the Concert began to weaken as the common goals of the Great Powers were gradually replaced by growing political and economic rivalries. Further eroded by the European revolutionary upheavals of 1848 with their demands for revision of the Congress of Vienna's frontiers along national lines, the Concert unravelled in the latter half of the 19th century amid successive wars between its participants - the Crimean War (1854-56), the Italian War of Independence (1859), the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). While the Congress System had a further significant achievement in the form of the Congress of Berlin (1878) which redrew the political map of the Balkans, the old balance of power had been irrevocably altered, and was replaced by a series of fluctuating alliances. By the early 20th century, the Great Powers were organised into two opposing coalitions, and the First World War broke out.

See also

External links

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, conductor of the Concert of Europe]] The Concert of Europe, also known as the Congress System after the Congress of Vienna, was the balance of power that existed in Europe between the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815) until the outbreak of the First World War (1914), albeit with major alterations after the revolutions of 1848. Its founding powers were Austria, Prussia, Russian Empire and the United Kingdom, the members of the Quadruple Alliance responsible for the downfall of the First French Empire. In time France was established as a fifth member of the concert. At first, the leading personalities of the system were British foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh, Austrian chancellor Klemens von Metternich and Russian tsar Alexander I.

The age of the Concert is sometimes known as the Age of Metternich, due to the influence of the Austrian chancellor's conservatism and the dominance of Austria within the German Confederation, or as the European Restoration, because of the reactionary efforts of the Congress of Vienna to restore Europe to its state before the French Revolution. The rise of nationalism, the unification of Germany and the Risorgimento in Italy, and the Eastern Question were among the factors which brought an end to the Concert's effectiveness. Among the meetings of the Great Powers during this period were: Aix-la-Chappelle (1818), Carlsbad (1819), Verona (1822), London (1832), Berlin (1878).

Contents

Congress System

Origins

The idea of a European federation had been previously raised by figures such as Gottfried Leibniz[1] and the 1st Baron of Grenville.[2] The Concert of Europe, as developed by Metternich, drew upon their ideas and the notion of a balance of power in international relations; that the ambitions of each Great Power was curbed by the others:

The Concert of Europe, as it began to be called at the time, had... a reality in international law, which derivied from the final Act of the Vienna Congress, which stipulated that the boundaries established in 1815 could not be altered without the consent of its eight signatories.[3]

From the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792 to the exile of Napoleon I to Saint Helena in 1815, Europe had been almost constantly at war. During this time, the military conquests of France had resulted in the spread of liberalism throughout much of the continent, resulting in many states adopting the Napoleonic code. Largely as a reaction to the radicalism of the French Revolution,[4] the victorious powers of the Napoleonic Wars resolved to suppress liberalism and nationalism, and revert largely to the status quo of Europe prior to 1789.[5] The Kingdom of Prussia, Austrian Empire and Russian Empire formed the Holy Alliance with the expressed intent of preserving Christian social values and traditional monarchism.[6] Every member of the coalition promptly joined the Alliance, save for the United Kingdom.

Results

[[File:|right|thumb|290px|National boundaries of Europe as set by the Congress of Vienna, 1814. Territories in ivory are within the German Confederation.]] In 1822, the Congress of Verona met to decide the issue if France could intervene on the side of the Spanish royalists in the Trienio Liberal. After receiving permission, Louis XVIII dispatched five army corps to restore Ferdinand VII of Spain.

In 1830, the Belgian Revolution against the Kingdom of the Netherlands began. French ambassador Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord presented a partition plan for the Southern Provinces to the Concert, which was not adopted. Nevertheless, the Great Powers unanimously recognized Belgian independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the Treaty of London (1839). The treaty also established Belgian neutrality, which would last until the German invasion of Belgium in 1914.

Demise

After an early period of success, the Concert began to weaken as the common goals of the Great Powers were gradually replaced by growing political and economic rivalries. Further eroded by the European revolutionary upheavals of 1848 with their demands for revision of the Congress of Vienna's frontiers along national lines, the Concert unraveled in the latter half of the 19th century amid successive wars between its participants - the Crimean War (1854–56), the Italian War of Independence (1859), the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). While the Congress System had a further significant achievement in the form of the Congress of Berlin (1878) which redrew the political map of the Balkans, the old balance of power had been irrevocably altered, and was replaced by a series of fluctuating alliances. By the early 20th century, the Great Powers were organized into two opposing coalitions, and the First World War broke out.

References

  1. ^ Loemker, Leroy, 1969 (1956). Leibniz: Philosophical Papers and Letters. Reidel, 58, fn 9.
  2. ^ John M. Sherwig. "Lord Grenville's Plan for a Concert of Europe, 1797-99." The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep., 1962), pp. 284-293.
  3. ^ Georges-Henri Soutou. "Was There a European Order in the Twentieth Century? From the Concert of Europe to the End of the Cold War." Contemporary European History, Vol. 9, No. 3, Theme Issue: Reflections on the Twentieth Century (Nov., 2000), pp. 330.
  4. ^ Georges-Henri Soutou. "Was There a European Order in the Twentieth Century? From the Concert of Europe to the End of the Cold War." Contemporary European History, Vol. 9, No. 3, Theme Issue: Reflections on the Twentieth Century (Nov., 2000), pg. 329.
  5. ^ Georges-Henri Soutou. "Was There a European Order in the Twentieth Century? From the Concert of Europe to the End of the Cold War." Contemporary European History, Vol. 9, No. 3, Theme Issue: Reflections on the Twentieth Century (Nov., 2000), pp. 330.
  6. ^ Spahn, M. (1910). Holy Alliance. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved May 15, 2010 from New Advent.

External links

  • Encyc: Concert of Europe

Simple English

The Concert of Europe was a group of countries in Europe who worked together and agreed on things (also known as an "alliance") between 1814 and 1914.

The member countries were the United Kingdom, Austria, Russia and Prussia (no longer a country). After Napoleon, ruler of France, was no longer in power, France joined the Concert of Europe.

Leaders

The leaders of this concert include:

The Concert was also known as the Congress System, where leaders would meet and reach decisions by mutual agreement. It eventually would change names and more countries joined to form The League of Nations.

Goals

Important goals of the Concert:

  • control France after many years of war
  • develop a "balance of power" among the nations of Europe
  • uphold the agreements set by the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815)
  • prevent another dictator from gaining too much power (like Napoleon)

Benefits:

Decline:

  • Fell apart after years of disagreement between the countries
  • Mainly between Great Britain (England) and the other conservative countries in the Concert
  • Finally fell after the following wars: Crimean War, Italian War for Independence, Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War.


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