Vienna, Congress of

views updated May 21 2018


The Vienna Congress provided the conclusion to the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Negotiations took place in France from February to April of 1814, in London during June of that year, in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815, and then again in Paris from July to November of 1815. The chief representatives included Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereigh of Britain; his ally, Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar von Metternich of Austria; Fürst Karl August von Hardenberg of Prussia; and Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Prince de Bénévent of France. Tsar Alexander I directed the Russians, aided and influenced by his diverse multi-national coterie of assistants: Count Andreas Razumovsky, who was ambassador to Austria; the Westphalian Graf Karl Robert von Nesselrode, who served as a quasi-foreign minister; the Corfu Greek Count Ioánnis Antónios Kapodstrias; the Corsican Count Carlo Andrea Pozzo di Borgo; the Prussian Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom und zum Stein; the Alsatian Anstedt; and the Pole Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski.

At the peak of his influence in early 1814, Alexander directed the non-punitive occupation of Paris and the exile of Napoleon I to Elba. The Treaty of Chaumont established the Quadruple Alliance to contain France, while the first Treaty of Paris restored the French monarchy. Alexander also helped block a Prussian scheme to frustrate France and Austrian designs on Switzerland and Piedmont-Sardinia, but supported the attachment of Belgium to the Netherlands and part of the Rhineland to Prussia as checks on French power. In London, however, he frightened the British with plans to reunite the ethnic Polish lands as his own separate kingdom.

At Vienna, the British, Austrians, and French thwarted this scheme, which was supported by a Prussia bent on annexing all of Saxony. By January 1815 Alexander was ready to compromise, an attitude strengthened by Napoleon's temporary return to power in March. The Final Act of June 4, 1815, drawn up by Metternich's mentor, Friedrich Gentz, reflected this spirit of compromise. Austria retained Galicia, and Prussia regained Poznan and Torun, and also acquired part of Saxony and more of the Rhineland. Most of the Napoleonic Duchy of Warsaw became the tsarist Kingdom of Poland. Denmark obtained a small duchy as partial compensation for Norway, which the Swedish crown acquired as Russian-sponsored compensation for the loss of Finland. A German Confederation dominated by Austria and, to a lesser extent, Prussia, but with Russian support for such middle-sized states as Württemberg, replaced the defunct Holy Roman Empire. The Ottomans remained outside the Final Act, refusing to allow Anglo-French-Austrian mediation of differences with Russia as a precondition of a general guarantee.

Back in Paris, Alexander promoted the Holy Alliance, which Metternich insisted be an ideal brotherhood of Christian sovereigns, not peoples, as the Russian emperor envisioned. Of the Europeans, only the British, the Papacy, and the Ottomans refused to sign it. The (Congress of) Vienna system weathered revolutions and diplomatic crises. Except for Belgian independence in 1830, Europe's borders remained essentially stable until 1859.

See also: alexander i; french war of 1812; napoleon i


Grimsted, Patricia Kennedy. (1969). The Foreign Ministers of Alexander I. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Schroeder, Paul. (1994). The Transformation of European Politics, 17631848. Oxford: Oxford University/Clarendon.

David M. Goldfrank

Vienna, Congress of

views updated May 14 2018


VIENNA, CONGRESS OF , international congress held in Vienna, September 1814 to June 1815, to reestablish peace and order in Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. The congress met in the Apollosaal built by the English-born Jew, Sigmund Wolffsohn, and the delegates were often entertained during the course of the proceedings in the *salons of Jewish hostesses, such as Fanny von *Arnstein and Cecily *Eskeles.

The Jewish question, raised explicitly for the first time at an international conference, arose in connection with the constitution of a new federation of German states. The Jews of Frankfurt and of the Hanseatic towns of *Hamburg, *Luebeck, and *Bremen had previously attained equal civil rights under French rule. The Hanseatic cities were annexed to France in 1810, and Jewish emancipation in France was effective ipso facto there. The Frankfurt community paid the French staff of the duke a vast sum of money in 1811 in return for being granted equality. They now sent delegates to the Congress to seek confirmation of their rights, as well as emancipation for the Jews of the other German states. The delegates for Frankfurt were Gabriel Oppenheimer and Jacob Baruch (the father of Ludwig *Boerne), while the Hanseatic towns were represented among others, by the non-Jew Carl August *Buchholz. They succeeded in gaining the support of such leading personalities as Metternich (Austria), Hardenberg, and Humboldt (Prussia). In October 1814 a committee of five German states met to prepare proposals for the constitution of the new federation. Bavaria and Wuerttemberg, fearing the curtailment of their independence, opposed Austria, Prussia, and Hanover, especially on the question of Jewish rights. At the general session of the Congress in May 1815, the opposition to Jewish civic equality grew, despite favorable proposals by Austria and Prussia. On June 10, paragraph 16 of the constitution of the German Federation was resolved:

The Assembly of the Federation will deliberate how to achieve the civic improvement of the members of the Jewish religion in Germany in as generally agreed a form as possible, in particular as to how to grant and insure for them the possibility of enjoying civic rights in return for the acceptance of all civic duties in the states of the Federation; until then, the members of this religion will have safeguarded for them the rights which have already been granted to them by the single states of the Federation.

This formulation postponed Jewish equality to the far distant future, while by changing one word in the final draft to "by," instead of "in the states," a formulation arrived at only at the meeting on June 8, a loophole had been left by which the states could disown rights granted by any but the lawful government, namely, those bestowed by the French or their temporary rulers. The Congress, therefore, did nothing to better the status of the Jews but, in effect, only worsened their position in many places.

The Jewish question arose again at the Conference of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818), when the powers met to determine the withdrawal of troops from France and consider France's indemnity to the allies. Various Jewish communities turned to the conference for relief, and Lewis *Way, an English clergyman, presented a petition for emancipation to Alexander i of Russia. Despite a sympathetic reception, however, there were no practical results.


M.J. Kohler, in: ajhsp, 26 (1918), 33–125; L. Wolf, Notes on the Diplomatic History of the Jewish Question (1919), 12–15; S.W. Baron, Die Judenfrage auf dem Wiener Kongress (1920); M. Grunwald, Vienna (1936), 190–204.

[Shmuel Ettinger]

Vienna, Congress of

views updated Jun 27 2018

Vienna, Congress of, 1814–15. Napoleon's abdication in April 1814 was followed by a preliminary settlement, the first treaty of Paris, which restored the Bourbon monarchy, returned most of France's colonies, allowed her the boundaries of 1792, and approved the union of Belgium and Holland. But twenty years of warfare, in the course of which boundaries had been constantly changed and new states created, demanded a general European settlement. The Congress opened in September with Castlereagh representing Britain. Strong disagreement between Prussia, Russia, and Austria over the fate of Saxony threatened allied unity and allowed Talleyrand, the French representative, to play a balancing role. In March 1815 everything was thrown into the melting pot by Napoleon's escape from Elba, and not until he had been defeated in June at Waterloo were the arrangements safe. The terms of the settlement with France were then made more severe, giving her the 1790s boundaries, and insisting on an indemnity and an army of occupation. Belgium and Holland were united in the hope that they would be a more effective barrier to French aggression than either the Spanish or Austrian Netherlands had been; Piedmont was strengthened as a barrier in Italy, where Austria, with Milan, Lombardy, and Venetia, became the dominant power; a kingdom of Poland was established under the rule of Tsar Alexander; Prussia was compensated in the west for territorial losses in the east; the neutrality of Switzerland was guaranteed; Denmark lost Norway to Sweden, which had changed sides at the last minute; Hanover's gains included East Frisia; Britain retained the Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, Tobago, St Lucia, Malta, Mauritius, the Ionian Islands, and Heligoland. By the Quadruple Alliance, which accompanied the second treaty of Paris in November 1815, the system of Congresses was established to adjudicate future problems. The Congress of Vienna was a prime example of balance of power diplomacy. The first piece of the settlement to collapse was the union of Belgium and Holland, which disintegrated in 1830.

J. A. Cannon

Vienna, Congress of

views updated Jun 11 2018

Vienna, Congress of (1814–15) European conference that settled international affairs after the Napoleonic Wars. It attempted, as far as possible, to restore the Europe of pre-1789, and thus disappointed the nationalists and liberals. Among steps to prevent future European wars, it established the Congress system and the German Confederation, a loose association for purposes of defence. Austria was represented by Metternich; Britain by Castlereagh; Prussia by Frederick William II; Russia by Alexander I; and France by Talleyrand.

Vienna, Congress of

views updated May 17 2018

Vienna, Congress of an international conference held 1814–15 to agree the settlement of Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. Attended by all the major European powers, it was dominated by Prussia, Russia, Britain, Austria, and France. The guiding principle of the settlement was the restoration and strengthening of hereditary and sometimes despotic rulers; the result was a political stability that lasted for three or four decades.

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Congress of Vienna