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Conservatism At The Congress Of Vienna

1591 words - 7 pages

The Cause and Effects of Conservatism at the Congress of Vienna by Bobby Laman The first fall of Napoleon marked the end of French domination of Europe. The general will of European nations was to prevent such continental power from ever being attained again, especially by France. This common goal of Europe to control France's power caused political conservatism to arise among powerful nations. Led by Austria and Great Britain, European powers assembled in 1814 to from the Congress of Vienna. Although self-interest fueled these assemblies, it was agreed upon that certain conservative measures were to be taken to secure the future of Europe. These measures worked for nearly twenty ...view middle of the document...

All 39 German states were considered loosely joined as a confederation while remaining individually sovereign. This German government's "legitimacy" was maintained by keeping the existing monarchies. A feeling of centralization was the goal of the loose confederation of states, not to be confused with a tool for nationalism. "The congress ignored the yearnings of German nationalists for a great unified fatherland; Metternich especially feared nationalistic agitation" (Palmer 447). The Congress of Vienna established a series of buffer states that surrounded the French borders to prevent any further aggression. All these states were to be recognized as legitimate monarchies, which was a conservative reaction against France's past revolutionary governments. "In all these areas, the congress...rejected any hint of the republican and democratic politics that had flowed from the French Revolution" (Kagan 749). The Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed, establishing a hereditary monarchy in the House of Orange to be combined with Belgium to make one kingdom buffering France's Eastern border. Prussia acquired part of the Rhineland as a buffer, Switzerland regained independence and the right to neutrality, and Austria dominated Northern Italy, leaving France boxed in from all sides. France was clearly not going to assert any military power under these conditions. However, no buffer state could keep France from getting involved in the political realm. The four major powers were too scared of the consequences of dividing Poland and Saxony to come to a compromise. Alexander I of Russia wanted to trade Saxony to Prussia in exchange for all of Poland. However, Metternich didn't want either to gain power. It was Talleyrand, France's congressional representative, who made a secret treaty with Britain and Austria that persuaded Alexander I to agree to a lesser portion of Poland. France's status as a major power was reinstated after this occasion. In the decades to come, the Quadruple Alliance accepts France as equals upon issuing the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818. All troops were withdrawn from France. This suggests that the major powers were gradually accepting the fact that France was a legitimate monarchy. Great Britain and Metternich were as conservative as ever in the years following the Congress of Vienna. As the first revolutions started appearing in Spain and Italy, Metternich devised a theory that minor insurrections were merely the warning signs of a "revolutionary seizure against which Europe should be quarantined" (Palmer 479). This quarantining he spoke of was referring to his plans for the Congress of Troppau, in which the five powers declared that stable governments have the right to intervene in order to restore order to governments experiencing a revolution. This congress was accepted by the Holy Alliance (Prussia, Russia, Austria) but rejected by England and France. Castlereagh thought...

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