Modern World History

Vienna Congress of 1815

After defeating Napoleon in the battle of Leipzig the members of victorious European coalition met at Vienna to discuss the reorganization of Europe. These powers had been disturbed by the campaigns of Napoleon and they were convinced to re-establish the states of pre 1789 in Europe. Since these victorious powers met at Vienna the political order created by them represented the old order. This could be completed after the defeat of Napoleon.

In accordance with the principle of balance of power the neighboring states of France were strengthened to prevent any adventurism in future. The principle of rewarding victorious at the cost of the defeated powers also resulted in significant territorial redistribution in Europe. Norway was taken from Denmark and given to Sweden. Prussia was given a part of Poland. Russia was given control over major part of Poland and Finland.

Though the leaders of Vienna were determined to restore the pre 1789 Europe completely but in spite of their determined efforts they failed to turn the clock backwards completely. The territorial rearrangement carried out by Napoleon could not be nullified completely as many of the old boundaries were completely erased. The grand ideals of French Revolution had made a deep impact on the psyche of European masses and they continue to inspire the common masses to raise the banner of revolution against old order in 1820,1830 and 1848.The success of these revolutions completed the process of coming of new age in Europe.

In 1820 a popular reaction emerged in Spain against the despotic rule .In 1830 a revolution erupted in France and it succeeded in overthrowing the absolute power of Bourbon dynasty. The revolution erupted in Italy, Prussia, German states and Spain. In 1848 a number of revolutions emerged again in European countries. These were manifestations of the fights of common masses against the old reactionary order of Europe and it is no doubt that the problems faced by Europe had the genesis in the Congress of Vienna. Metternich was the chancellor of Austria, when the Vienna Congress was organized. He was the most reactionary power in Europe during the first half of the 19th century. He was the guardian of old order based upon the principles of legitimacy and class privileges. The Vienna Order was prepared under his guidance.

The reactionary forces representing the old European order were left with no strength and vigor in 1815 even though they succeeded against Napoleon. These forces had been fighting since three decades to save their existence against the revolution and Napoleon. They had become outdated and lost touch with the realities. Their only concern was to maintain their existence. This kind of old order could be maintained only on the basis of force and Metternich was the only powerful ruler in Europe. Till the time he remained at the helm of affairs in Vienna the old order could survive and his fall in 1848 sealed the fate of old order as well.

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