[Back to Modern Europe Syllabus]

Paul Halsall
Modern Western Civilization

Class 17: The Congress of Vienna System and Challenges

I. Introduction

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

political minutiae.

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.

Key People

Viscount Robert Castlereagh (GB) 1769-1822

Prince Klemens von Metternich (Aust) 1773-1859

Talleyrand reps. France (mention role throughout Rev.)

B. Principles

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

              restored in Europe.

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

              aristocracy 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


IV. Austria

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.

V. Germany

A. Metternich opposed moves to constitutionalism in German

states - posed a danger to Austria.

39 States - German Confederation.

B. Prussia

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

industrial capitalists.

VI. France

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

              revolution - 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

              Napoleons body.

But this July monarchy basically ruled in favour of the

rich upper middle class. Peerage abolished but landed

oligarchy maintain power.

VII. Britain

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.

Contributing Factors

-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.

VIII. Russia

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.

B. Belgium

July days in France 1930 led to an independence movement

in Belgium

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.