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Period oil painting of the delegates to the Congress of Vienna.
The Congress of Vienna by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, (1819). Although representatives from all the states which had participated in the wars were invited, the principal negotiations were conducted by the "Big Four" (Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Austria) and, later on, royalist France.

The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from November, 1814 to June, 1815.[1] Its objective was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. This objective resulted in the redrawing of the continent's political map, establishing the boundaries of France, Napoleon's duchy of Warsaw, the Netherlands, the states of the Rhine, the German province of Saxony, and various Italian territories, and the creation of spheres of influence through which France, Austria, Russia and Britain brokered local and regional problems. The Congress of Vienna was a model for the League of Nations and United Nations due to its goal to constitute peace by all parties.

The immediate background was France's (Under Napoleon) defeat and surrender in May, 1814, which brought an end to twenty-five years of nearly continuous war. Negotiations continued despite the outbreak of fighting triggered by Napoleon's dramatic return from exile and resumption of power in France during the Hundred Days of March-July, 1815. The Congress's "Final Act" was signed nine days before his final defeat at Waterloo on June 18, 1815.

An unusual feature of the "Congress of Vienna" was that it was not properly a Congress: it never met in plenary session, and most of the discussions occurred in informal, face-to-face, sessions among the Great Powers of France, United Kingdom, Austria, and Russia, and sometimes Prussia, with limited or no participation by other delegates. On the other hand, the Congress was the first occasion in history where on a continental scale people came together in place to hammer out a treaty, instead of relying mostly on messengers and messages between the several capitals. The Congress of Vienna settlement, despite later changes, formed the framework for European international politics until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.



Partial settlements had already occurred at the Treaty of Paris between France and the Sixth Coalition, and the Treaty of Kiel which covered issues raised regarding Scandinavia. The Treaty of Paris had determined that a "general congress" should be held in Vienna, and that invitations would be issued to "all the Powers engaged on either side in the present war."[2] The opening was scheduled for July 1814.[3]


oil painting of Tallyrand, the French ambassador
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-PĂ©rigord proved an able negotiator for the defeated French.

The Four Great Powers—plus one

The three other signatories of the Treaty of Paris, 1814


Virtually every state in Europe had a delegation in Vienna – more than 200 states and princely houses were represented at the Congress.[13] In addition, there were representatives of cities, corporations, religious organizations (for instance, abbeys) and special interest groups (for instance, there was a delegation representing German publishers, demanding a copyright law and freedom of the press).[14]

Course of the Congress

Initially, the representatives of the four victorious powers hoped to exclude the French from serious participation in the negotiations, but Talleyrand managed to skillfully insert himself into "her inner councils" in the first weeks of negotiations. He allied himself to a Committee of Eight powers (including Spain, Sweden, and Portugal) to control the negotiations. Once Talleyrand was able to use this committee to make himself a part of the inner negotiations, he then left this committee.[citation needed]

The major Allies' indecision on how to conduct their affairs without provoking a united protest from the lesser powers led to the calling of a preliminary conference on protocol, to which Talleyrand and the Marquis of Labrador, Spain's representative, were invited on September 30, 1814.[citation needed]

Congress Secretary Friedrich von Gentz reported, "The intervention of Talleyrand and Labrador has hopelessly upset all our plans. Talleyrand protested against the procedure we have adopted and soundly [be]rated us for two hours. It was a scene I shall never forget."[15] The embarrassed representatives of the Allies replied that the document concerning the protocol they had arranged actually meant nothing. "If it means so little, why did you sign it?" snapped Labrador.

Talleyrand's policy, directed as much by national as personal ambitions, demanded the close but by no means amicable relationship he had with Labrador, whom Talleyrand regarded with disdain.[16] Labrador later remarked of Talleyrand: "that cripple, unfortunately, is going to Vienna."[17] Talleyrand skirted additional articles suggested by Labrador: he had no intention of handing over the 12,000 afrancesados - Spanish fugitives, sympathetic to France, who had sworn fealty to Joseph Bonaparte (with whom he had unscrupulous business connections) - nor the bulk of the documents, paintings, pieces of fine art, and works of hydrography and natural history that had been looted from the archives, palaces, churches and cathedrals of Spain.[18]

Final Act

The Final Act, embodying all the separate treaties, was signed on June 9, 1815, (a few days before the Battle of Waterloo).[19] Its provisions included:

Polish-Saxon crisis

The most controversial subject at the Congress was the so-called Polish-Saxon Crisis. The Russians and Prussians proposed a deal in which much of the Prussian and Austrian shares of the partitions of Poland would go to Russia, which would create a Polish Kingdom in personal union with Russia and Alexander as king. In compensation, the Prussians would receive all of Saxony, whose King was considered to have forfeited his throne as he had not abandoned Napoleon soon enough. The Austrians, French, and British did not approve of this plan, and, at the inspiration of Talleyrand, signed a secret treaty on January 3, 1815, agreeing to go to war, if necessary, to prevent the Russo-Prussian plan from coming to fruition.[citation needed]

The Tsar mounted on his horse
Alexander I of Russia (1812) considered himself a guarantor of European security.

Though none of the three powers were ready for war, the Russians did not call the bluff, and an amicable settlement was set on October 24, 1814, by which Russia received most of the Napoleonic Duchy of Warsaw as a "Kingdom of Poland" - called Congress Poland - but did not receive the district of Poznań, Grand Duchy of Poznań, which was given to Prussia, nor Kraków, which became a free city. Prussia received 40% of Saxony - later known as the Province of Saxony, with the remainder returned to King Frederick Augustus I - Kingdom of Saxony.

Other changes

The Congress's principal results, apart from its confirmation of France's loss of the territories annexed in 1795–1810, which had already been settled by the Treaty of Paris, were the enlargement of Russia, (which gained most of the Duchy of Warsaw) and Prussia, which acquired Westphalia and the northern Rhineland. The consolidation of Germany from the nearly 300 states of the Holy Roman Empire (dissolved in 1806) into a much more manageable thirty-eight states (4 of which were free cities) was confirmed. These states were formed into a loose German Confederation under the leadership of Prussia and Austria.

Representatives at the Congress agreed to numerous other territorial changes. Norway was transferred from Denmark to the king of Sweden, this sparked the nationalist movement which led to the establishment of the Kingdom of Norway on May 17, 1814. Austria gained Lombardy-Venetia in Northern Italy, while much of the rest of North-Central Italy went to Habsburg dynasties (the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Modena, and the Duchy of Parma). The Papal States were restored to the Pope. The Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was restored to its mainland possessions, and also gained control of the Republic of Genoa. In Southern Italy, Napoleon's brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, was originally allowed to retain his Kingdom of Naples, but his support of Napoleon in the Hundred Days led to the restoration of the Bourbon Ferdinand IV to the throne.[citation needed]

A large United Kingdom of the Netherlands was created for the Prince of Orange, including both the old United Provinces and the formerly Austrian-ruled territories in the Southern Netherlands. There were other, less important territorial adjustments, including significant territorial gains for the German Kingdoms of Hanover (which gained East Frisia from Prussia and various other territories in Northwest Germany) and Bavaria (which gained the Rhenish Palatinate and territories in Franconia). The Duchy of Lauenburg was transferred from Hanover to Denmark, and Swedish Pomerania was annexed by Prussia. Switzerland was enlarged, and Swiss neutrality was established. Swiss mercenaries had played a significant role in European Wars for a couple of hundred years, and the intention was to put a stop to these actĂ­vities once and for all.

During the wars, Portugal had lost its province of Olivença to Spain and, at the Congress of Vienna, wanted it back. Portugal is historically the oldest ally of the United Kingdom, and with its support succeeded in having their right to the re-incorporation of Olivença decreed in Article 105 of the Final Act, which stated that the Congress "understood the occupation of Olivença to be illegal and recognized Portugal's rights". Portugal ratified the Final Act in 1815 but the Spanish would not sign. Thus Spain became the most important hold-out against the Congress of Vienna. Deciding in the end that it was better to become part of Europe than stand aside alone, Spain finally accepted the Treaty on May 7, 1817, however, Olivença and its surroundings have never actually returned to Portuguese control and this question is still unsolved.[21] The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland received parts of the West Indies at the expense of the Netherlands and Spain and kept the former Dutch colonies of Ceylon and the Cape Colony, and also kept Malta and Heligoland. Under the Treaty of Paris, Britain obtained the protectorate over the United States of the Ionian Islands and the Seychelles.

Later criticism

The Congress of Vienna was frequently criticized by nineteenth-century and more recent historians for ignoring national and liberal impulses, and for imposing a stifling reaction on the Continent.[citation needed] It was an integral part in what became known as the Conservative Order, in which the liberties and civil rights associated with the American and French Revolutions were de-emphasized, and peace and stability were purchased instead.[citation needed]

In the 20th century, however, many historians have come to admire the statesmen at the Congress, whose work prevented another widespread European war for nearly a hundred years (1815–1914). Among these is Henry Kissinger, who wrote his doctoral dissertation, A World Restored (1957), on it. Prior to the opening of the Paris peace conference of 1918, the British Foreign Office commissioned a history of the Congress of Vienna to serve as an example to its own delegates of how to achieve an equally successful peace.[citation needed] Besides, the decisions of the Congress were made by the Five Great Powers (Austria, France, Prussia, Russia and the United Kingdom), and not all the countries of Europe could extend their rights at the Congress. For example, Italy became a mere "geographical expression" as divided into eight parts (Parma, Modena, Tuscany, Lombardy, Venetia, Piedmont-Sardinia, the Papal States, Naples-Sicily) under the control of different powers, while Poland was under the influence of Russia after the Congress. The arrangements that made the Five Great Powers finally led to future disputes. The Congress of Vienna preserved the balance of power in Europe, but it could not check the spread of revolutionary movements on the continent.

See also


  1. ^ Bloy, Marjie (30 April 2002). "The Congress of Vienna, 1 November 1814 — 8 June 1815". The Victorian Web. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  2. ^ Article XXXII. See Harold Nicolson, The Congress of Vienna, chap. 9.
  3. ^ Page 334 of: King, David (2008). Vienna 1814; how the conquerors of Napoleon made love, war, and peace at the Congress of Vienna. Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307337160. 
  4. ^ Page 158 of: Nicolson, Harold (1946). The Congress of Vienna; a Study in Allied Unity, 1812-1822. Constable & co. ltd.. 
  5. ^ Page 650 of: Treaty between Great Britain and Portugal, January 22, 1815. 5 George IV. London: His Majesty's Statute and Law Printers. 1824.,M1. 
  6. ^ Page 116 of: Freksa, Frederick. A peace congress of intrigue. trans. Harry Hansen (1919). New York: The Century Co..,M1. 
  7. ^ Zamoyski, Adam (2007). Rites of Peace; the Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780060775186.  Page 297: "[…] the Danish plenipotentiary Count Rosenkrantz."
  8. ^ CouvĂ©e, D.H.; G. Pikkemaat (1963). 1813-15, ons koninkrijk geboren. Alphen aan den Rijn: N. Samsom nv. pp. 123–124. 
  9. ^ "[Castlereagh, during his stay in The Hague, in January 1813] induced the Dutch to leave their interests entirely in British hands." On page 65 of Nicolson (1946).
  10. ^ Nicolson, Harold (1946). The Congress of Vienna; a Study in Allied Unity, 1812-1822. Constable & co. ltd..  Page 197: “Baron von Gagern – one of the two plenipotentiaries for the Netherlands.”
  11. ^ Page 195 of Nicolson (1946).
  12. ^ Zamoyski, Adam (2007). Rites of Peace; the Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780060775186.  Page 257: "The Pope’s envoy to Vienna, Cardinal Consalvi [...]"
  13. ^ Page 2 of King (2008)
  14. ^ See pages 258 and 295 of: Zamoyski, Adam (2007). Rites of Peace; the Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780060775186. 
  15. ^ Susan Mary Alsop (1984). The Congress Dances. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers. pp. 120. 
  16. ^ Wenceslao Ramírez de Villa-Urrutia, Marqués de Villa-Urrutia, España en el Congreso de Viena según la correspondencia de D. Pedro Gómez Labrador, Marqués de Labrador. Segunda Edición Corregida y Aumentada (Madrid: Francisco Beltrán, 1928), 13.
  17. ^ Antonio Rodríguez-Moñino (ed.), Cartas Políticas (Badajoz: Imprenta Provincial, 1959), 14 (Letter IV, July 10, 1814). Labrador’s letters are full of such pungent remarks, and include his opinions on bad diplomats, the state of the postal system, the weather, and his non-existent salary and coach and accompanying livery for the Congress.
  18. ^ Villa-Urrutia, España en el Congreso de Viena, 61-2. The French had stripped an enormous amount of art from the country. Joseph had left Madrid with an enormous baggage train containing pieces of art, tapestries, and mirrors. The most rapacious of the French was Marshal Nicolas Soult, who left Spain with entire collections, which disappeared to unknown, separate locations around the world. According to Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño, at least "[the paintings] have come to spread the prestige of Spanish art around the whole word."
  19. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition "Congress of Vienna"
  20. ^ CouvĂ©e, D.H.; G. Pikkemaat (1963). 1813-15, ons koninkrijk geboren. Alphen aan den Rijn: N. Samsom nv. pp. 127–130. 
  21. ^ "An Auxiliary Agreement to the Congress of Vienna Treaty, Signed by George IV".  See also: "Grounds for the Portuguese rights". 

Further reading

  • Oaks, Augustus; R. B. Mowat (1918). The Great European Treaties of the Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press.  ("Chapter II The restoration of Europe")
  • Nicolson, Harold (1946). The Congress of Vienna; a Study in Allied Unity, 1812-1822. Constable & co. ltd.. 
  • Kissinger, Henry (1957). A World Restored; Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 
  • Spiel, Hilde (1968). The Congress of Vienna; an Eyewitness Account. Philadelphia: Chilton Book Co.. 
  • Zamoyski, Adam (2007). Rites of Peace; the Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780060775186. 
  • King, David (2008). Vienna 1814; How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna. Random House Inc.. ISBN 9780307337160. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CONGRESS OF VIENNA (1814-1815). The fall of Napoleon was only achieved by the creation of a special alliance between Great Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia. By the Treaty of Chaumont of March 1 o, 1814, these four powers bound themselves together in a bond which was not to be dissolved when peace was concluded. When Napoleon had been beaten, France conceded to these allies by a secret article of the first Treaty of Paris of May 30, 1814, the disposition of all countries which Napoleon's fall had freed from French suzerainty. This stupendous task was reserved for a general congress, and it was agreed to meet at Vienna. The visit of the allied sovereigns to England and the pressing engagements of the emperor Alexander and Lord Castlereagh delayed the congress until the autumn, when all Europe sent its representatives to accept the hospitality of the impoverished but magnificent Austrian court.

Metternich, though he had not yet completely established his position, acted as chief Austrian representative, and he was naturally in his capacity as host the president of the congress. Friedrich v. Gentz acted as secretary both to him and the congress and did much of the routine work. Alexander of Russia directed his own diplomacy, and round him he had gathered a brilliant body of men who could express but not control their master's desires. Of these the chief were foreigners, according to the traditions of Russian diplomacy. Capo d'Istria, Nesselrode, Stein, Pozzo di Borgo were perhaps the best men in Europe to manage the Russian policy, while Czartoriski represented at the imperial court the hope of Polish nationality. Frederick William III. of Prussia was a weaker character and, as will be seen, his policy was largely determined by his ally. Prince von Hardenberg, who by no means shared all the views of his master but was incapacitated by his growing infirmities, was first Prussian plenipotentiary, and assisting him was Baron von Humboldt. Great Britain was represented by Lord Castlereagh, and under him were the British diplomats who had been attached to the foreign armies since 1813, Clancarty, Stewart and Cathcart. Castlereagh brought with him decided views, which however were not altogether those of his cabinet, and his position was weakened by the fact that Great Britain was still at war with the United States, and that public opinion at home cared for little but the abolition of the slave trade. When parliamentary duties called Castlereagh home in. February 1815, the duke of Wellington filled his place with adequate dignity and statesmanship until the war broke out.

France sent Prince Talleyrand to conduct her difficult affairs. No other man was so well fitted for the task of maintaining the interests of a defeated country. His rare diplomatic skill and supreme intellectual endowments were to enable him to play a deciding part in the coming congress. All the minor powers of Europe were represented, for all felt that their interests were at stake in the coming settlement. Gathered there also were a host of publicists, secretaries and courtiers, and never before had Europe witnessed such a collection of rank and talent. From the first the social side of the congress impressed observers with its wealth and variety, nor did the statesmen disdain to use the dining-table or the ballroom as the instruments of their diplomacy.

All Europe awaited with eager expectation the results of so great an assembly. The fate of Poland and Saxony hung in the balance; Germany awaited an entirely new reorganization; Italy was again ready for dismemberment; rumours went that even the pope and the sultan might be largely affected. Some there were who hoped that so great an opportunity would not be lost, but that the statesmen would initiate such measures of international disarmament as would perpetuate the blessings of that peace which Europe was again enjoying after twenty years of warfare.

It was not long, however, before the allies displayed their intention of keeping the management of affairs entirely in their own hands. At an informal meeting on the 22nd of September the four great powers agreed that all subjects of general interest were to be settled by a committee consisting of Austria, Russia, Prussia and Great Britain together with France and Spain. At the same time, however, it was decided by a secret protocol that the four powers should first settle among themselves the distribution of the conquered territories, and that France and Spain should only be consulted when their final decision was announced.

This was the situation which Talleyrand had to face when he arrived on the 24th of September. His first step when he was admitted to the European committee, which was in the plans of the allies to act so colourless a part, was to ignore the position of the Four and to assert that only the congress as a whole could give the committee full powers. This would have meant an almost indefinite delay, for how was it possible to decide the exact rights of all the different states to a voice in affairs ? After some heated discussion a compromise was arrived at. The opening of the congress was postponed, and Sweden and Portugal were added to the European committee, but the Four still persisted in the informal meetings which were to decide the important questions. Meanwhile separate committees were formed for the discussion of special problems. Thus a special committee was appointed consisting of the five German powers to discuss the constitution which was to replace the Holy Roman Empire, another to settle that of Switzerland, and others for other minor questions. Talleyrand had, however, already shaken the position of the allies. He had posed as the defender of the public rights of Europe and won to his side the smaller powers and much of the public opinion of Europe, while the allies were beginning to be regarded more in the light of rapacious conquerors than as disinterested defenders of the liberties of Europe.

Had the Four remained united in their views they would still have been irresistible. But they were gradually dividing into two unreconcilable parties upon the Saxon-Polish question. Alexander, exaggerating the part he had played in the final struggle, and with some vague idea of nationality in his brain, demanded that the whole of Poland should be added to the Russian dominions. Austria was to be compensated in Italy, while Prussia was to receive the whole of Saxony, whose unfortunate monarch had been the most faithful of Napoleon's vassals.

It was Castlereagh that led the opposition to these almost peremptory demands of Alexander. A true disciple of Pitt, he came to the congress with an overwhelming distrust of the growing power of Russia, which was only second to his hatred of revolutionary France. He considered that the equilibrium of Europe would be irretrievably upset were the Russian boundaries to be pushed into the heart of Germany. Thus while willing, even anxious that Prussia should receive Saxony, in order that she might be strong to meet the danger from the East, he was prepared to go to any lengths to resist the claims of Russia. For Austria Saxony was really of more vital interest than Poland, but Castlereagh, despite a vigorous resistance from a section of the Austrian court, was able to win Metternich over to his views. He hoped to gain Prussia also to his side, and by uniting the German powers to force Alexander to retire from the position he had so uncompromisingly laid down. With the Prussian statesmen he had some success, but he could make no impression on Frederick William. Alexander used to the utmost that influence over the mind of the Prussian monarch which he had been preparing since the beginning of 1813. Against Castlereagh he entered the lists personally, and memorandum after memorandum was exchanged. Despite the warning letters of the British cabinet which, dismayed at the long continuance of the American War, counselled caution on a question in which England had no immediate interest, Castlereagh yielded no inch of his ground. But Metternich wavered on the question of Saxony, and December saw the allies hopelessly at difference. It seemed by no means unlikely that the armies which had conquered Napoleon would soon be engaged in conflict with one another.

It was Talleyrand's opportunity. As Castlereagh and Metternich began to regard the position as hopeless they began to look upon him as a possible ally. Talleyrand had constantly defended the rights of France's old ally Saxony in the name of the principle which his master Louis XVIII. represented. His passionate appeal on behalf of "legitimacy" was particularly adapted to the necessities of the situation. Alexander was driven into transports of rage by this championship of the ancien regime by one who had been a servant of its bitterest foe. But Castlereagh saw that war could only be avoided if one party was made stronger than the other. The reluctant consent of the British cabinet was obtained and Talleyrand was approached as an equal. He came boldly to the front in the middle of December as the champion of Saxony; and, as Russia and Prussia were still obstinate, Metternich and Castlereagh demanded the admission of France to the secret council. This was refused, and on the 3rd of January 1815 a secret treaty of defensive alliance was signed between France, Austria and Great Britain. For some time affairs hung in the balance, but Alexander could not mistake the tone of his opponents. Gradually a compromise was arranged, and by the end of the month all danger was past. Eventually Austria and Prussia retained most of their Polish dominions, and the latter power only received about two-fifths of Saxony. The rest of Poland was incorporated as a separate kingdom in the Russian dominions with a promise of a constitution of its own. Talleyrand had rescued France from its humiliating position, and set it as an equal by the side of the allies. Henceforward he made no effort for the rights of the whole congress.

Meanwhile other affairs had been progressing more harmoniously under the direction of special committees, which included representatives of the powers specially interested. Switzerland was given a constitution which led it in the direction of its later federalism. In Italy Austria retained her hold on Lombardy and Venetia, Genoa was assigned to the kingdom of Sardinia, while Parma went to Marie Louise, the legitimate heir, Carlo Ludivico, having to be content with the reversion after her death, the congress meanwhile assigning Lucca to him as a duchy; the claims of the young Napoleon to succeed his mother in Parma were only destroyed by the efforts of France and England. The other petty monarchs were restored, and Murat's rash attempt, after Napoleon's return from Elba, to make himself king of united Italy, gave back Naples to the Bourbons, an event which would have been brought about in any case in the course of the next few years (see Murat, Joachim). Holland was confirmed in the possession of Belgium and Luxemburg, Limburg and Liege were added to her dominions. Sweden, who had sacrificed Finland to Russia, obtained Norway.

German affairs, however, proved too complicated for complete solution. It was difficult enough to decide the claims of the states in the scramble for territory. Eventually, however, by methods of compromise, this was adjusted fairly satisfactorily. The greater states gained largely, especially Prussia, who was given large accessions of territory on the Rhine, partly as a compensation for her disappointment in the matter of Saxony, partly that she might act as a bulwark against France. Some disputes between Baden and Bavaria remained unsettled, and many questions arising out of the new federal constitution of Germany, which had been hurriedly patched together under the influence of the news of Napoleon's return, had to be postponed for further discussion, and were not settled until the Final Act agreed upon by the conference of German statesmen at Vienna in 1821.

Other more general objects, such as the free navigation of international rivers and the regulation of the rights of precedence among diplomatists (see Diplomacy), were managed with much address. Castlereagh's great efforts were rewarded by a declaration that the slave trade was to be abolished, though each power was left free to fix such a date as was most convenient to itself. The Final Act, embodying all the separate treaties, was signed on the 9th of June 1815, a few days before the battle of Waterloo.

Before the work of the congress was completed Napoleon was again at Paris, and the closing stages were hurried and illconsidered. One negotiation of supreme importance was cut short for this reason. Castlereagh had left Vienna with the hope that the powers would solemnly guarantee their territorial settlement and promise to make collective war on whoever dared to disturb it. This guarantee was to include the Ottoman dominions, in whose interests, indeed, it had been brought forward. Alexander made no objection provided that the Porte would submit all outstanding claims to arbitration. The distance of Constantinople from Vienna and the obstinacy of the sultan would probably have prevented a settlement, but the return of Napoleon rendered all such proposals almost absurd, and the scheme was dropped.

Thus the congress of Vienna failed to institute any new system for securing the stability of the European polity, nor did it recognize those new forces of liberty and nationality which had really caused Napoleon's downfall. Following the tradition of all preceding congresses, it was mainly a scramble for territory and power. Territories were distributed among the powers with no consideration for the feelings of their inhabitants, and in general the right of the strongest prevailed. For this reason it has often met with a condemnation that has perhaps been unmerited. It is true that the map of Europe shows to-day but little trace of its influence; but much of its work was determined by conditions over which statesmen had little control. Europe was not ready for the recognition of nationality and liberalism. What it wanted most of all was peace, and by establishing something like a territorial equilibrium the congress did much to win that breathing space which was the cardinal need of all.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - The treaties and acts of the congress may be consulted in J. L. Kliiber, Acten des Wiener Congresses (9 vols.); Comte d'Angeberg, Le Congrbs de Vienne (4 vols.). British and Foreign State Papers, vol. ii., gives some of the documents in English, and the Final Act is found in many collections. For the diplomacy, Wellington's Supplementary Despatches, vols. ix. and x., Castlereagh's Letters and Despatches, vol. x., Talleyrand's Memoirs, vols. ii. and iii., the works of Gentz (see GENTZ, F. VoN) and the Memoirs of Hardenberg and Czartoryski are very useful. Other records left by contemporaries are those of Munster, D. D. de Pradt, J. de Maistre and Gagern. The comte A. de La Garde-Chambonas, Souvenirs du congrbs de Vienne (ed. with introduction and note by Comte Fleury, Paris, 1901), gives an interesting picture of the congress from its personal and social side. Of later works a great many historians both of the Napoleonic era and of the 19th century include chapters on the congress; Sorel, L'Europe et la Revolution francaise, vol. viii., and the various volumes of the StaatenGeschichte der Neuesten Zeit give much information. In English the best account is that by Dr A. W. Ward in chs. xix. and xxi. of vol. ix. of the Cambridge Modern History (1906), which gives also a fairly complete bibliography, pp. 867-875. There is also a list of authorities in Lavisse and Rambaud's Histoire Generale, vol. x. (C. K. W.)

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Simple English

[[File:|thumbnail|300px|The Congress of Vienna by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, 1819.]] The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of the major powers of Europe. It was held in Vienna from November 1, 1814, to June 8, 1815. The chairman was the Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich.

Its purpose was to decide about the political situation in Europe after the defeat of Napoleon. To be precise there was never one "Congress of Vienna". Instead there were discussions in informal sessions among the Great Powers.

The Congress was concerned with determining the entire shape of Europe after the Napoleonic wars, with the exception of the terms of peace with France, which had already been decided by the Treaty of Paris, signed a few months earlier, on May 30, 1814.

The four victorious powers hoped to exclude the French from participation in the negotiations, but Talleyrand managed to get into "her inner councils" in the first weeks of negotiations.

Charles M. de Talleyrand-PĂ©rigord.

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