Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors
of European states chaired by the Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich,
and held in Vienna from
November, 1814 to June, 1815.
Its objective was to settle
the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars
, and the dissolution
of the Holy Roman Empire
objective resulted in the redrawing of the continent's political
map, establish the boundaries of France, Napoleon's duchy of
Netherlands, the states once part of the Confederation of
the Rhine, the German province of Saxony, and various
Italian territories, and the creation of a spheres of influence through which
France, Austria, Russia and Britain brokered local and regional
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.
immediate background was France's defeat and
surrender in May, 1814,
which brought an end to twenty-five years of nearly continuous
Negotiations continued despite the outbreak of fighting
triggered by Napoleon
dramatic return from exile and resumption of power in France during
the Hundred Days
of March-July, 1815.
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
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."
The opening was scheduled for July
Joaquim Lobo da Silveira
AntĂłnio de Saldanha da
Count Carl LĂ¶wenhielm
5th Duke of Noailles
Count Karl Robert Nesselrode
Sousa Holstein, Count of Palmella
Emmerich Joseph, Duke of Dalberg
Prince Andrey Kirillovich
Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry
GĂłmez Labrador, Marquis of Labrador
Richard Le Poer
Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty
Friedrich von Gentz
Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt
Cathcart, 1st Earl Cathcart
Prince Karl August von
Count Gustav Ernst von
24. probably Francis I of
Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz
The Four Great Powersâ€”plus one
The three other signatories of the Treaty of Paris,
- Austria was
represented by Prince Metternich, the
Foreign Minister, and by his deputy, Baron Johann von
Wessenberg. Obviously, Emperor Francis I resided
- United Kingdom was represented firstly by its Foreign Secretary, Viscount Castlereagh;
then by the Duke of Wellington,
after Castlereagh's return to England in February 1815; and in the
last weeks, by the Earl of
Clancarty, after Wellington left to face Napoleon during the
- Although Russia's official
delegation was led by the foreign minister, Count Karl Robert Nesselrode, Czar Alexander I
was also in Vienna and regarded himself, in fact as well as in
name, his own sole plenipotentiary.
Virtually every state in Europe had a delegation in Vienna â€“ more
than 200 states and princely houses were represented at the
Congress. 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).
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.
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,
Congress Secretary Friedrich von
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." 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.
Labrador later remarked of Talleyrand: "that cripple,
unfortunately, is going to Vienna." 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.
Act, embodying all the separate treaties, was signed on June 9,
1815, (a few days before the Battle of Waterloo).
Its provisions included:
- Russia was given most of the Duchy of
Warsaw (Poland) and was allowed to keep Finland (which it had annexed from
Sweden in 1809 and held until 1917).
- Prussia was given two fifths of Saxony, parts of the Duchy of Warsaw (the Grand Duchy of Posen), Danzig, and the
Confederation of 38 states was created from the previous 360 of
the Holy Roman Empire, under the presidency of the Austrian
Emperor. Only portions of the territory of Austria and
Prussia were included in the Confederation.
- The Netherlands and the Southern Netherlands (approx.
modern-day Belgium) were united in a constitutional monarchy, with
the House of Orange-Nassau
providing the king.
compensate for the Orange-Nassau's loss of the Nassau lands to
Prussia, the United
Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy
of Luxembourg were to form a personal
union under the House of Orange-Nassau, with Luxembourg (but
not the Netherlands) inside the German Confederation.
- Swedish Pomerania, ceded to Denmark a year earlier, was ceded to
neutrality of Switzerland was guaranteed.
- Hanover gave up the Duchy of Lauenburg to Denmark, but was
enlarged by the addition of former territories of the Bishop of MĂĽnster and by the formerly
Prussian East Frisia, and made a
of the territorial gains of Bavaria, WĂĽrttemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Nassau under
the mediatizations of 1801â€“1806 were
recognized. Bavaria also gained control of the Rhenish Palatinate and parts of the
Napoleonic Duchy of WĂĽrzburg
and Grand Duchy
of Frankfurt. Hesse-Darmstadt, in exchange for giving up
the Duchy of Westphalia to Prussia, was granted the city of
- Austria regained control of the Tirol and Salzburg; of the former Illyrian Provinces; of Tarnopol district (from Russia); received Lombardy-Venetia in Italy and
Ragusa in Dalmatia. Former Austrian territory in
Southwest Germany remained under the control of WĂĽrttemberg and
Baden, and the Austrian
Netherlands were also not recovered.
- Habsburg princes were returned to control of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the
Duchy of Modena.
States were under the rule of the pope and restored to
their former extent, with the exception of Avignon and the Comtat
Venaissin, which remained part of France.
Kingdom was confirmed in control of the Cape Colony in Southern Africa; Tobago; Ceylon; and various
other colonies in Africa and Asia. Other colonies, most
notably the Dutch East
Indies and Martinique, were restored to their previous
King of Sardinia was restored in
Piedmont, Nice, and
Savoy, and was given control of Genoa (putting an
end to the brief proclamation of a restored Republic).
- The Duchies of Parma, Piacenza and
Guastalla were given to Marie Louise, Napoleon's
- The Duchy of Lucca was created for the House of Bourbon-Parma, which would
have reversionary rights to Parma after the death of Marie Louise.
- The Bourbon Ferdinand IV, King of Sicily
was restored to control of the Kingdom
of Naples, but only after Joachim
Murat, the king installed by Bonaparte, supported Napoleon in
the Hundred Days, triggering the
- The slave trade was condemned.
- Freedom of navigation was guaranteed for many rivers, including the
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.
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 PoznaĹ„, Grand Duchy of PoznaĹ„, which was given to Prussia, nor KrakĂłw, 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 -
Congress's principal results, apart from its confirmation of
France's loss of the territories annexed in 1795â€“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
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,
Austria gained Lombardy-Venetia
Italy, while much of the rest of North-Central Italy went to
Habsburg dynasties (the Grand
Duchy of Tuscany
, the Duchy of
, and the Duchy of Parma
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.
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
A large United Kingdom
of the Netherlands
was created for the Prince of Orange,
including both the old United
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
from Prussia and various
other territories in Northwest Germany) and Bavaria
(which gained the Rhenish
Palatinate and territories in Franconia
Duchy of Lauenburg was
transferred from Hanover to Denmark, and Swedish
Pomerania was annexed by Prussia.
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.
the wars, Portugal had lost its province of OlivenĂ§a 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 OlivenĂ§a decreed in Article 105 of the Final Act, which
stated that the Congress "understood the occupation of OlivenĂ§a to be illegal and recognized Portugal's
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.
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, OlivenĂ§a and its surroundings have never actually returned
to Portuguese control and this question is still unsolved.
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.
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. 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.
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 (1815â€“1914).
Among these is Henry Kissinger
wrote his doctoral dissertation, A
, 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. 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.
- Article XXXII. See Harold Nicolson, The Congress of
Vienna, chap. 9.
- Page 334 of:
- Page 158 of:
- Page 650 of:
- Page 116 of:
- Page 297: "[â€¦] the Danish plenipotentiary Count
- "[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).
- Page 197: â€śBaron von Gagern â€“ one of the two plenipotentiaries
for the Netherlands.â€ť
- Page 195 of Nicolson (1946).
- Page 257: "The Popeâ€™s envoy to Vienna, Cardinal Consalvi
- Page 2 of King (2008)
- See pages 258 and 295 of:
- Wenceslao RamĂrez de Villa-Urrutia, MarquĂ©s de Villa-Urrutia,
EspaĂ±a en el Congreso de Viena segĂşn la correspondencia de D.
Pedro GĂłmez Labrador, MarquĂ©s de Labrador. Segunda EdiciĂłn
Corregida y Aumentada (Madrid: Francisco BeltrĂˇn, 1928), 13.
- Antonio RodrĂguez-MoĂ±ino (ed.), Cartas PolĂticas
(Badajoz: Imprenta Provincial, 1959), 14 (Letter IV, July 10,
1814). Labradorâ€™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.
- Villa-Urrutia, EspaĂ±a 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 NuĂ±o, at least
"[the paintings] have come to spread the prestige of Spanish art
around the whole word."
Britannica Eleventh Edition "Congress of Vienna"
- See also:
- ("Chapter II The restoration of Europe")