The Concert of Europe: an Interesting Variation of Traditional Balance of Power Politics

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The year is 1815 and the recently ended Napoleonic wars had left Europe in shambles. In response to the destruction left in the wake of Napoleon’s imperialistic rampage through the continent the rulers of the four most powerful nations (Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain) decided to form an alliance. Seeing the problems caused by Napoleonic France they wanted to make certain no nation would acquire more power than another (D’Anieri 34). This new agreement also assured each nation an ally, should a rogue leader decide to follow Napoleon’s example (Martin 1). On November 20th 1815 the informal multi-national alliance known as the Concert of Europe was born (Martin 2). The Concert of Europe ¬was different from most alliances in that there was no paperwork binding the countries to their agreements, but rather a set of informal verbal agreements. Nonetheless, and with only a few exceptions, the nations involved in the concert stuck to their agreement and maintained a peaceful balance of power (the only exceptions where peace was broken were the Crimean war from 1854-1856 and, the Franco-Prussian war from 1870-1871) (D’Anieri 34). It also introduced a liberal approach to international relations; by fusing traditional balance of power politics with active collaboration between the states.

The Concert of Europe was an interesting variation on the traditional balance of power approach to international politics. Interesting because unlike other treaties there were no legal documents to back it up, but rather the concert was formed by a set of verbal agreements between the nations involved (D’Anieri 34). The concert was created in order to quell any future power plays by other European nations. By ensuring that each of the nations involved (which were the four largest and most powerful nations in Europe at the time) had an equality of power between them. This equality was supplemented with a system of active cooperation and conference between the states...
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