Europe After Napoleon Index
Europe After Napoleon : The Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna : Outcome and Alliances
Nationalist Revolutions after 1820
The Revolutions of 1830 and 1848
Europe After 1848
The Unification of Italy and Germany (The Breakdown in the Balance of Power)
History Chapters Main Index
The Breakup of the Congress System 1818-1830
Although the great powers did meet to discuss the situation in Europe after 1815 the differences between them became increasingly obvious and potentially dangerous. There were:
the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818)
the Congress of Troppau (1820)
the Congress of Laibach (1821)
the Congress of Verona (1822)
After this last congress it had become obvious that Britain and France were in total disagreement with Russia, Austria and Prussia on so many issues it was pointless to carry on. The great powers never met again.
The Eastern Question
Throughout the 19th century this problem was a major preoccupation of all the governments of Europe. The question was quite simply, "What about Ottoman Turkey?". On the map the Ottoman Empire looked strong. In reality it was weak and it was for this reason that it was known as "the sick man of Europe". The question that every government posed was what would happen when the Ottoman Empire collapsed? Not if, but when. After 1830, Britain and France
in particular were extremely preoccupied because they were becoming afraid of Russia.
TWO CENTURIES OF REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE
Europe After Napoleon
Revolutionary Europe 1820-1848 and the Breakup of the Congress System 1818-1830
The Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix 1830
There were two major failings of the Congress of Vienna:
The redrawing of the map of Europe took no account of the wishes of the ordinary People. The same nationalist sentiment which had been fatal to Napoleon was aroused once more when millions of people in Europe refused to accept the imposition of "foreign", rulers and, as a result, nationalist revolutions broke out in many regions after 1820.
The second major failure of the Congress of Vienna was that it acted as if the French Revolution and Napoleon had never existed. After the dismantling of Napoleon's empire it tried to put the clock back to 1789 by reinstalling monarchies of the ancien régime wherever they had previously existed. Inevitably this led to more revolts and revolution, because even in the areas of Europe which had fought
against Napoleon out of nationalist sentiment, the liberal constitutions which he had introduced had made a profound impact.
After the French Revolution and Napoleon things could never be the same again. Inevitably, this resulted in liberal revolutions, when people demanded the right to have constitutional government with an elected assembly.
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© Shirley Burchill, Nigel Hughes, Richard Gale, Peter Price and Keith Woodall 2017
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