Congress of Vienna

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Adeyoye 1

The late eighteenth century encompasses a great struggle around the time of the French

Revolution, in which several of the rebellious French groups begin to seek stability. Napoleon is

one of the most important political figures in particular due to his consolidation of the achievements of

the Revolution with Romanticism, and the most controversial when he is seen attempting to establish

an empire by conquering most of present-day Europe. Following Napoleon's downfall against growing

coalitions of the enemy, Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia agreed to form a Quadruple Alliance for

twenty years to preserve whatever settlement they agreed on, while establishing the Congress of Vienna

to deal with whatever remaining problems they still had. The Congress of Vienna consisted of these

four major European powers, whom of which were all intent on creating a balance of power to preserve

the peace in Napoleon's absence; ultimately, the Congress of Vienna would achieve all of their goals,

culminating in peace and the prevention of general war for a hundred years.

The Congress of Vienna was an international conference centered around the original

countries that had emerged victorious. Notably, each of these countries were involved in the forming of

several coalitions against France. Austria was one of Napolean's earliest victims, having formed the

First Coalition with Prussia and then the Second Coalition with Russia as an attempt to contain

Revolutionary France. They were represented later in congress by Prince Klemens von Metternich. He

was heavily conservative in his actions; however, he was willing to modify his ideals in order to for the

conference to be a success. Prussia was an area that remained neutral apart from the times when they

were forced into war, and as a result, their representative Prince Karl August von Hardenberg was also

very inactive. Intelligent as he was, he simply knew the meaning of compromise. His actions would

later become a nod to Russia when he brought about a reunion between Russia and Britain. Russia

exchanged a significant amount of victories with the French before finally seceding from the Second

Coalition. Meanwhile, Alexander I alternately befriended and fought against Napoleon on several

Adeyoye 2

occasions, only to meet with the other nations in a collaboration against him. Although Alexander

helped to to form the Quadruple Alliance, he was more devoted to the interests of Russia. A radical

thinker, he was often unpredictable and stood out from the other representatives. Unlike his

counterparts, he rejected the idea of altering his ideals to stay true to congress; this would entail conflict

for the others later on. Great Britain was also a former ally of France through The Peace of Amiens, but

a combination of Napoleon's confidence and disregard for the partner in this relationship provoked the

force of Britain in warfare. Britain elected Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh as their representative

in congress. Castlereagh stands as a more visible example of the nations keeping check over one

another when he begins to realize the intentions of Alexander, eventually dedicating himself to a limit

on Russia's control. Ultimately, all of these nations were part of the sixth coalition that defeated him at

Leipzig and effectively drove him to exile on the island of Elba, off the coast of central Italy. Some

time after congress is formed, Charles Talleyrand of France will take advantage of the rising suspicion

toward Alexander and effectively convince the other diplomats to include France as a fifth great

power, whereupon his objective will be to keep France in one piece....
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