[Back to Modern Europe Syllabus]
Modern Western Civilization
Class 17: The Congress of Vienna System and Challenges
A. We begin again at 1815, even though we have gone ahead
in the section on the Industrial Revolution.
B. Sketch Chronology of 19th Century
Here we are looking at wide developments rather than
The 19th century was relatively peaceful in Europe - no
large scale wars, but many overseas conflicts as a new
kind of empire is built up.
We have already looked at how Europe was changing due to
the effects of the Industrial revolution. This is always
in the background.
The main political developments.
-The unification of the Italian and German states.
-The growth of great European overseas empires.
These were accompanied and associated with the spread of
political ideologies, derived somewhat from the French
[discuss idea of isms]
There was also a new political force/ideology, which
arose from the new classes unleashed industrialisation.
-Socialism (Trade unionist and marxist)
C. Why call the section Power and Ideology?
This section is called "Power and Ideology" because the
nineteenth century witnessed many struggles where the
outcome was determind by militray or industrial might, both
within the European world and outside it.
But it was also a century in which a series of competing
and conflicting ideologies for political actiin where
worked out. These idleogies built on the Industrial
Revolution and on the French Revolution.
One focus of both a "brute power" and an "ideological"
explanation of the period is the year 1848 during which a
series of revolutions which affected all of Europe took
place. They provide a focus for us to transfer our attention
from the post-Napoleonic Europe, to one where these
ideologies begin to bear fruit.
II. The Congress of Vienna and Metternich
A. The Treaty of Vienna and Metternich
The Congress of Vienna Sept 1814-Nov 1815
Four Powers dominate - Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia.
Viscount Robert Castlereagh (GB) 1769-1822
Prince Klemens von Metternich (Aust) 1773-1859
Talleyrand reps. France (mention role throughout Rev.)
1. No one power should dominate.
Britain and Austria stopped Prussia and Russia getting
upper hand - and all of Poland and Saxony.
-The concept of Balance of Power in Europe: No one
European state would be allowed to Dominate.
2. Restoration of Legitimate monarchs.
e.g. in France, Spain, Italy (Germany was rationalised).
3. Policy of containing France.
Holland was made strong with Austrian Netherlands,
Austria given North Italy, and Prussia given Rhineland
(which moves Prussia's interests to the West).
4. There was a non-vindictive boundary settlement with
France. (Boundaries of 1792)
C. Refer to map of Europe after Congress of Vienna.
D. Concert of Europe
There were plans to maintain order by having frequent
meetings - continued for a few years - The so called
Concert of Europe, but soon disagreements made this
There was no major general war in Europe for a hundred
years. The Balance of Power worked.
III. Reaction in Europe 1815-1830
A. After the French Rev, Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna
(1814-1815) the conservative political and social order was
B. Internationally idea of Balance of Power.
C. Internally in most countries, reaction: not note that many of
its institution had great staying power:-monarchies, landed
in Central and Eastern Europe, and the Church
D. Conservative monarchy and conservative religion. The self-
conscious alliance of throne, land and altar was new.
They stood against the new ideas launched by the French
No compromise with liberalism, or nationalism.
Austria was a cosmopolitan state, existing because of its
dynasty. Nationalism and liberalism worked against
loyalty to one dynasty, and against the existence of
the state. Metternich epitomised conservatism. Anything
else would destroy Austria.
A. Metternich opposed moves to constitutionalism in German
states - posed a danger to Austria.
39 States - German Confederation.
The ruling class in Prussia - a landed aristocracy
known as Junkers were allied with the army and King
Fredrick William III and opposed German nationalism.
FW3 had almost taken chance to be a constitutional
monarch, but backed down in 1817.
C. Carlsbad Decrees 1819 - banning student associations
[Burschenschaften] - which advocated replacing local
loyalties with loyalty to a united German state.+ secret
police in many German states.
D. No liberal thought allowed here - censorship in universities.
E. Progressive industrialisation was transforming Germany,
especially Prussia's Rhineland. New political forces
were transforming the reality on the ground. In particular
economic predominance was moving from Landholders to
A. Bourbon Monarch was restored - Louis XVIII was a fairly mild
ruler in fact.
The Charter 1814 - religous toleration + Catholicism
offical rel. Did not disturn property changes since 1789.
B. New king - Charles X in 1824 - too conservative, tried to
overturn the Charter, after liberals scored a victory in
Elections to Chamber of Deputies.
C. Revolution of 1830
Primarily a political revolt.
But once again Paris workers - economic downturn after
1827 - took to the streets.
Middle class deputies sieze moment to bring about a
constitutional monarchy - they did not want another radical
- fear of workers.
1830 revolt brings Louis Philippe to throne. He accepts
the Charter - as a right of the people.
D. The Liberal July Monarchy
Adopts Tricolour as flag, Catholicism, no longer state
religion, but seen as religion of the majority of the people.
Louis Philippe built the Arc de Triomphe and brought back
But this July monarchy basically ruled in favour of the
rich upper middle class. Peerage abolished but landed
oligarchy maintain power.
A. Return of the Tories
Political coercion - Peterloo 1819
Economic conservitism - Corn Laws to keep foreign bread
out + increase wealth of landed class.
(An anti-bourgois measure)
B. Some loosening in late 1820s.
In the North - Manchester - political campaigns for reform
of Parliament and economy. Free Trade.
C. 1832 - Great Reform Bill - compromise with the middle
class prevents revolution. It was not democratic -
middle class did not have majority but it sets a trend
- Forced through by Earl Grey.
D. Tories for working class in 1830s - explain why.
E. Britain alone is changed by reform rather than revolution.
-The very size of the industrial and comercial class
-A strong respect for civil liberties in the British
-A tradition of liberal Whig Aristocrats.
F. 1846 - Repeal of Corn Laws - victory of liberals,
realignment of politics in UK for next 30 years.
Opposed liberals, kept serfdom. Extreme conservatism
under Nicholas I "Official Nationalism".
Slogan "Orthodoxy, Aristocracy, and Nationalism"
IX. Metternich's system was to last until 1848,
later in some places, but was to be blown away by
Liberalism, and Nationalism
X. Wars of Independence [do not go into detail]
A. Greece 1821. Led by Ypsilanti.
July days in France 1930 led to an independence movement
Its army defeated the Dutch - becomes a neutral state
1831. [official cause of WWI]
-a Catholic country as opposed to the Netherlands.
C. Latin America - from 1810 on - beneficial to British Trade.