The 19th century was marked by the uprising of the middle class and the spread of revolutionary ideas caused by the French Revolution, which ultimately led to the outbreak of war all across Europe. Once France was defeated, the Vienna Congress met to discuss the future and fate of Europe. The purpose of the Vienna Congress was to establish an international framework for continental cooperation and the maintenance of the balance of power. This aided the emperors of Russia, Austria as well as Prussia to focus on internal state issues instead of warfare among European countries. Internally, these emperors were concerned with the spread of revolutionary ideas, which originated in France and questioned the traditional authority. This research paper will observe, explain and analyze the steps taken by each country and leader to limit liberal and national ideas and how they encouraged and forced conservative ideas upon the public. In particular this paper will look at and compare the actions of Tsar Alexander I (Russia), Prince Metternich (Austria) and King Frederick William III (Prussia), who symbolize the great leaders of continental Europe. At first we will look at different groups and ideas, that were spreading within the respective countries, and their danger to the traditional system. Finally we will observe and compare the different efforts put forth by the governments to destroy or contain these ideas and movements.
In 1814, the victors over Napoleon gathered at Vienna to create a balance of power in Europe to their favor. The gathering was called the Congress of Vienna and symbolized a concert among the great powers of Europe. The conservative powers were interested mainly in squashing ideas and nationalism within their own countries and adjourning ones. They viewed the Enlightenment as having inspired the French Revolution and that revolution as having encouraged an attack on religion and the old conservative order. To prevent further revolutions and the outbreak of wars, conservatives wanted a return to respect for the wisdom of traditional authorities and obedience from the Third Estate. The Congress of Vienna was the response to the Napoleonic wars, and for conservatives a response to the godless French Revolution. According to Foreign Minister Metternich, the people of Europe wanted peace rather than liberty . And peace was what Metternich wished to provide them, within a context of what he saw as legitimate rule. Prevailing at the Congress of Vienna was the conservative view of what was legitimate. Authoritarian monarchies were legitimate to the elite and enabled them to stay in power. Metternich, the organizer and symbolic leader of the Congress of Vienna, wanted to restore to the continent the old aristocratic and monarchical order, and empire, which was had been challenged previously by Napoleon.
Conservative thought evolved between 1750 and 1850 as a response to the changes which had overtaken Europe. The Enlightenment took place between the 1650’s and 1789. It was a time when European intellectuals attempted to open the minds of their peers. Conservatives were threatened by the successful results of the 1789 French Revolution, a period of social and political change throughout France and Europe. They were also influenced by the drastic growth of industry as well as the quest for universal male suffrage. The conservatives initially triumphed in a reactionary manner during the period following 1815. There was no major war for almost 100 years between European powers on European ground. This gave the great Leaders the chance to eliminate the revolutionary ideas, which had spread across Europe, within their territory . Russia, Prussia and the Habsburg Monarchy were at the core of these actions, which will now be explained.
Alexander I, the tsar of Russia, of the Orthodox faith, wanted an international order based on Christianity, and he talked the emperor of Prussia, a Protestant, and the emperor of Austria,...
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