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Europe After Napoleon Index
Europe After Napoleon : The Congress of Vienna
TWO CENTURIES OF REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE
Europe After Napoleon
The Congress of Vienna : Outcome and Alliances
The Congress of Vienna
Needless to say, the return of Napoleon from exile in Elba in February 1815 caused panic and the Congress was suspended. However, after Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo in June 1815, it reassembled and continued its work.
The Congress of Vienna was dominated by the "big four", despite the fact that all of Europe was represented. The decisions taken were taken by Napoleon's principal adversaries, Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia. Despite all its faults and shortcomings, and there were many, the Congress did seriously attempt to protect Europe from war, which it did for almost fifty years. This in itself was a considerable accomplishment.
Map showing the outcome of the Congress of Vienna in 1815
The Quadruple Alliance, 1815
This was an idea put forward by the British foreign minister. He proposed that it was the responsibility of the great powers to prevent war in Europe, a Europe ravaged by war since 1792, by having regular meetings to discuss the international situation and intervene, using force if necessary, to stop an international conflict developing. (This was very much the same idea which lay behind the League of Nations after World War I and the United Nations after World War II).
The Holy Alliance, 1815
This was the brainchild of Tsar Alexander I who proposed an alliance of all the Christian rulers of Europe in order to deal with each other like brothers, and to rule their subjects like fathers, in the name of God. Every country in Europe joined it, with three notable exceptions:
In practice, the Holy Alliance would be used to protect the "legitimate" rulers (those representing God) from any form of attack, including internal revolution.
The Quintuple Alliance 1818
This was nothing more than the Quadruple Alliance plus France. By 1818 it was evident that the French people had accepted Louis XVII as their king and that there was no further danger of another return of Napoleon from exile. It was a diplomatic triumph Talleyrand, France representative at Vienna. It was also a sensible acceptance, by the Big Four, that the affairs of Europe could not be settled without the inclusion of France.
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