Napoleon Bonaparte and the Congress of Vienna

Napoleon Bonaparte and the Congress of Vienna. The Treaty of Chaumont had bound the four principal allied powers Austria, Russia, Prussia, and Great Britain together in their quest to defeat Napoleon. The subsequent treaties of peace with France stated that all the former belligerent countries should send delegates to a congress in Vienna.

Early Days of Napoleon:-

We may briefly trace the rise and fall of Napoleon (1769-1821)


It is interesting to note that Napoleon, the hero of France. and the Child of the French Revolution, was not a Frenchman. He was a Corsican, his birth having taken place at Ajaccio in 1769 in the island of Corsica, a part of Italy, which had been conquered by the French a year preceding his birth. His own language was Italian, and he could speak French only with a foreign accent.

Family :

He belonged to good family. His parents were Charles Bonaparte and Letitia Ramonline. His father, who was a lawyer, was against the French domination in Corsica. Napoleon’s ambition was to free Corsica from the French yoke. At the age of 16, he became the head of the family, when his father died. He had four brothers Joseph, Lucien, Louis and Jerome.


He had his training at the Brienne Cadet School at first and later at the Paris Ecole Militaire at the age of 15.

As a student he was very diligent and industrious. Among the subjects of his study, he had. special interest in history (he made history later) and mathematics.


In the school days, he was not happy in the company of the rich classmates, who insulted him and treated him with contempt. Little did the proud aristocratic boys realize that the object of their scorn would one day be a ruler (exercising control over them), the idol of France and the terror of Europe.

His Rise to Power:

Artillery Officer:

The humble Corsican, who was to shine as q military prodigy in future became an artillery officer in the France army at the age of 17. At the beginning of the French Revolution (1789), when he was 20 years old, he was a s sub-lieutenant in the provinces.

He used to visit his family frequently at Corsica, where it got  into difficulties, as it had republican leanings. Napoleon himself had entertained such views, and in 1793, he had published a republican pamphlet.

Great Achievement at Toulon:

Napoleon climbed higher and higher posits in the army by dint of his military genius and good luck. In 1792 he became a captain. An important event that gave him a big push in the army was his brilliant victory in 1793 over the British fleet in the siege and capture of Toulon, a port in the Mediterranean as a commander of the artillery. The laurels that be won at Toulon gave a firm basis to his meteoric rise, because it was then that his military caliber of the highest type was discovered. His republican leaning also proved favorable to his rapid rise.

General Of Brigade and Commander of Italy :

In 1794 he was Promotes to the rank of general of brigade and commander of the army of Italy.

The Committee of Public Safety which hid cast its Suspicious eyes on all and sundry and sentenced thousands to the guillotine, also suspected Napoleon, and if seemed that Napoleon might follow. Robespierre to be beheaded. It was only by 4 hair breadth that he escaped the guillotine. He had Joined the Jocobin Club, and had been imprisoned, when the reign of terror had ended. Though he was released, and his life was saved, he was reduced to poverty, and he had to do something extraordinary to re-establish his reputation. The, opportunity came in 1795 after the reign of terror had ended  in July, 1794.

National Convention Saved:

On October 6, 1795 as the National Convention was framing a constitution in the palace of Tuileries, riotous insurrection in favor of monarchy broke out. Napoleon suppressed the mob by firing at it. Thus he shot again to fame. The Directory, which was in power, regarded him as hero, who saved the Revolution.

Married Josephine :

When he was about 27 years old, he married on March 9, 1796 Josephine de Bearnaise, the rich widow of a guillotined nobleman.

Austrians Defeated at Rivoli.

The Directory, which was pleased with him, appointed him in 1796 as the commander-in-chief of the French forces in Italy. He then undertook a second Italian campaign. Within a year in 1797, even though his army was will fed, ill trained, and ill-equipped, he defeated the Austrians having a numerical superiority in a whirlwind campaign at Rivoli and made the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797). The expulsion of Austrians from Italy during his 1796-1797 campaign brought him fresh laurels. It was his personal magnetism and military genius that won him glory, and it was clear that he was sure to have many more great achievements to his credit.

Campaign in Egypt:

Napoleon told the Directory that it was necessary to invade Egypt to strike a mortal blow at the British empire in the East. He mobilized an army of 35,000 and invaded Egypt in 1798. Within three weeks of landing at Alexandria, Egypt was in his hands after the Egyptians were defeated in the Battle of the Pyramids. But soon a tragedy was to overtake the French. Admiral Nelson of the British navy destroyed the French fleet in August 1798 at Aboukir Bay (in the Battle of the Nile) near Alexandria. This rendered Napoleon’s earlier victory absolutely futile.

Campaign in Syria:

The French forces were cut ff from France, and Napoleon was forced to enter Syria, where he won victories over the Turks and the British. But his campaign was brought to a halt by the British at Acre. Then leaving his troops to carry on the siege, he returned to France in October 1799.

Problems of France under the Directory:

The Directory: was unable to deliver the goods. Its weakness and incompetence had been proved beyond doubt. The Directors recklessly quarreled amongst themselves, neglecting even the most urgent affairs. France was again on the verge of anarchy. During the reign of terror, much damage had been done by excesses, but the Directors could do nothing to improve the state of affairs or give even peace and security. In governmental departments, work was neglected, and Various sections of society were loudly expressing their grievances.

Napoleon’s superiority to other generals was brought into bold relief during his absence, when French generals suffered defeats The enemies of France were mobilizing forces for an invasion, and  the republics established by the French in other countries had fallen. France needed a man, who could give peace and security, and run the governmental machinery smoothly at home, and who could repair the damage done to French power and Prestige by winning new victories abroad.

During Napoleon’s Egyptian and Syrian campaigns (1798- 1799), England had formed the First Coalition consisting of England, Russia, Austria, Turkey and Naples for  overthrowing the French Revolutionary Government in Paris

Fall of the Directory of Three Consuls:

The French had developed a high opinion of Napoleon, and they thought that he alone could save the country from internal and external dangers. Napoleon had cleverly managed to reach France before the people knew anything about his reverses in Egypt and Syria.

Napoleon then planned a coup de etat:-

By clever scheming, he compelled three members of the Directory to resign, and placed two directors under military guard. The next move was to force the legislature to dissolve itself. On November 9; 1799, after over throwing the Directory, he captured power. For camouflaging his real intentions, a new constitution, the fourth since the Revolution broke out, was framed. Under this, three Consuls were to exercise all executive authority for a period of 10 years, Among the three Consuls, the First Consul was to exercise supreme power. He was competent to control the army and navy, to appoint and dismiss important officials, and to initiate new legislation.

Napoleon as First Consul:

Napoleon, Abbe Sieyes and Roger Dueos became the three Consuls, Napoleon being the First. On the submission of the new Constitution to a plebiscite, thanks to Napoleon’s popularity, an overwhelming majority support of three million to sixteen hundred was-secured. Very soon Napoleon dropped the two Consuls. Though he ruled France as the First Consul, actually he exercised the powers of a dictator. He wanted to wait, for some time for assuming the title of emperor.

Unwittingly, dazzled by the glamour of Napoleon’s personality, the people of France voted in favor of a dictator, who deceived them and robbed them of the fruits of the Revolution. As the course of events changed, the revolutionary movement came to close. Napoleon would not tolerate any opposition to him.

Napoleon’s Rule as First Consul:-

Napoleon ruled France well as First Consul for five years (1799 — 4904) extricating France from disorder and confusion, despair and humiliation. He introduced far-reaching reforms making the people feel at least for some time that they had not voted the wrong man to power.

Peace and Order:

France needed first of all peace, order and security. Napoleon ensured this and justified the confidence the people had in him.

Centralized Power:

All power was centralized in his hands, and he was able to rule without any restraints on his power. All officials, who wielded significant power, were appointed by him and responsible to him alone. This enabled him to impose his will on a the whole of France.

Far-sighted Reforms:

He introduced far-sighted reforms, which brought about all-round improvement in the country.

  1. Finance was a established, wasteful expenditure was checked, and measures of economy were introduced.
  2. Corruption was suppressed with a stern hand.
  3. Anew system of taxation was introduced.
  4. The Bank of France was established.
  5. Religious toleration was given, and peace was made with the Pope. By the Concordat of 1801, Catholicism became the official religion of France. However, he retained his rights over the Church property and control over bishops.
  6. France had the first Public School system in Europe.
  7. Trade and commerce WAS Improved by cutting canals and roads.
  8. Architecture was encouraged, and beautiful monuments were built Paris became a beautiful city.
  9. French nobles, who had fled to foreign countries, were allowed to return.
  10. French laws were codified, and the Code Napoleon, a single body of laws, was prepared. This put an end to the different confusing codes of law in France. The Code was based on wholesome principles. It abolished all privileges, established social equality and introduced trial by jury.

Brilliant Campaigns:-

Napoleon planned brilliant campaigns to overthrow the enemies of France.

England formed the Second Coalition, whose members were England, Austria, Russia, Turkey and Portugal. But this could not do much, as Russia detached herself from the coalition before long. Turkey and Portugal; not being big powers, their continuation in the coalition was of little significance. However, England and Austria formed a formidable combination, and hence Napoleon thought of breaking it.

Battle of Marengo:

Napoleon: the First Consul led a brilliant: campaign against Austria and defeated her in the Battle of Marengo  in dune 1800. He detached Austria from England by the peace of Luneville by which Austria gave full recognition to all French conquests since 1789. This isolated England North Italy was reconquered for France in 1800,

Treaty of Amiens:

As Napoleon threatened to invade England, which was~exhausted in fighting against France in two coalitions, England, which was eager for peace, signed the Treaty of Amiens  in 1802. This ensured peace for France after about 10 years of war. He had also made peace with. Austria, Naples, Turkey, and Russia, the other enemies of France.

Consul for Life with Power to Nominate Successor:

Napoleon’s  campaigns: and astute diplomacy raised his stock in the eyes, of the public. The French people took pride in his victories, voted him Consul for Life in 1802, and gave him the power of nominating his successor. This made Napoleon’s government virtually a hereditary monarchy.

Napoleon as Emperor of France:-

Napoleon smashed the Royalist and Jacobin conspiracies, and in 1804, crowned himself as Emperor of France. This was indeed strange development, as 12 years earlier the French revolutionaries had deposed Louis XVI and made France a republic to safe guard Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Napoleon took full advantage of his military power and popularity to mislead the people, exercise autocratic power, and undo the results of the Revolution. All were surprised, when Emperor Napoleon sought the blessings of the Pope and created a new aristocracy.

European powers watched with alarm Napoleon soaring ambitions in Italy, and formed a coalition against him. But the coalition could not check Napoleon further brilliant campaigns.

Defeat of Austrians, Prussians and Russions:

The Austrians were defeated at Ulm and Austerlitz (December 1905). The Prussians were routed at Jena (1806). The Russians tasted the bitter fruit of defeat at Napoleon’s hands at Friedland (1807).

Downfall of Napoleon:-

Battle of Trafalgar:

While Napoleon dazzled the eyes of the French by his grand victorles, he sustained a crushing defeat at the hands of Nelson in Emperor Napoleon t a the naval battle of Trafalgar is 1805. (Earlier in 1798, the French fleet had been destroyed near Alexandria.) This was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars, though its significance was not fully grasped at Italy time and the destruction of the French fleet (which was to control the English Channel) missed the attention of many. It was Nelson, who compelled Napoleon to abandon his original) plan of invading England. The naval battles of Alexandria and Trafalgar proclaimed British supremacy over the sea. Trafalgar was as decisive as Austerlitz.

Map of Europe Redrawn:

According to Napoleon’s dictates, the map of Europe was redrawn. He became the king-maker of Europe, which he treated as his private property. He made and unmade princes according to his whims and fancies. He called himself King of Italy and appointed his stepson Viceroy of Naples. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved. His brother Louis became King of Holland, brother Jerome King of Westphalia in Germany, and brother Joseph King of Naples. In 1808, Joseph was made King of Spain. His generals also rose to great power. One became King of Naples and another King of Sweden. After the Battle of Austerlitz, Prime Minister William Pitt of England precisely prophesied.

Another surprising event was Emperor Napoleon divorcing to an heir daughter of the Austrian emperor), who gave heir Napoleon I in 1811.

Continental System:

As observed earlier, m British had taught Napoleon bitter lessons on two occasions. Nelson had defeated him in the Battle of the Nile and a second time the combined fleets of France and Spain had been defeated at Trafalgar. In spite of this, Napoleon underestimated the naval and commercial power of England and committed costly blunders, He thought that if England could be, humbled, he should become the unchallenged master of Europe. But how could that be done.

He drew up a plan known as the Continental System for an economic blockade of Britain. This system, which was introduced by the Berlin and Milan Decrees (1806), prevented the import of British goods by any country in Europe. This system was thoughtlessly introduced by Napoleon,who had been blinded by lust for power and arrogance. It was bound to fail, as no country in Europe,not even Napoleon’s France, could do completely without British goods, and France did not have a strong navy superior to that of England to enforce the blockade and control shipping movements in European waters. On the contrary, the British fleet prevented goods from reaching France and damaged French trade. European countries suffered heavily owing to the Continental System, and it was difficult to understand why they should undergo great hardships and sacrifice so much for the sake of Napoleon.

Defeat m the Peninsular War:

Spain and Portugal violated the Continental System and invited Napoleon’s wrath. Napoleon invaded Spain for retaliation in 1808 and made his brother Joseph king. This led to the outbreak of the Peninsular War (1808-1814). The English armies under the British general Wellesley went to rescue of Spain. The French were defeated and expelled from Spain and Joseph was deposed. This war marked the beginning of Napoleon’s downfall.

Failure of the Thoughtless Russian Campaign:

Another calamitous error of Napoleon was to plan, thoughtlessly a big campaign against Russia. For some time, Napoleon and Tsar Alexandar I of Russia were friendly,and they had agreed, that they had common interests. They even thought of sharing Europe between themselves, as, according to them, the other rulers in Europe were not of much significance. With Napoleon supreme in the: west and Alexander I supreme in the east, it would be beneficial to form a mutual alliance. But soon the Tsar became Napoleon’s enemy, as he was not prepared to honor the meaningless Continental System.

In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia with a large army of 600,000. The Russian campaign across a war front of 800 miles was suicidal. Being too costly in terms of men and money, it was ruinous to Napoleon. The Russians, who could not face this grant army, followed a scorched earth policy and withdrew, allowing Napoleon to invade even the capital Moscow. They set fire to Moscow, but would not surrender to Napoleon. Then a hungry, shivering and totally demoralized army returned across the devastated plains of Russia. As the French were retreating, the Russians. attacked them mercilessly and annihilated a major portion of the army. Napoleon would never forget the bitter Russian lesson. Out of the 600,000 soldiers, not more than 20,000 returned home.

Routed at Leipzig:

Napoleon hurriedly raised another army, this time of middle aged and old men and boys, as the best men had been sacrificed earlier. The enemies of Napoleon, who were pleased to know about his Russian debacle, wanted to rout the beaten emperor, England, Austria, Prussia, Russia and Sweden made common cause and formed the fourth and the last coalition against him and routed him in the battle of Leipzig i in October 1813. This was Battle of Nations, Napoleon had become a menace to all nations, and all nations of Europe fought In 1814, the Austrians, the Prussians and the Russians entered France, and the British and the Spaniards crossed the Pyrenees. Even Paris fell and Emperor Napoleon was deposed, The victors made Louis XVIII, the brother of Louis XVI, as King of France.

Exiled to Elba:

Napoleon was banished to the island of Elba in the Mediterranean, but in March 1815, he managed to escape. The French once again welcome him enthusiastically, as they remember his brilliant victories, which had made France great. He held out wonderful hopes to the French and promised to rule constitutionally. But the promises were not meant to be honored.

Hundred Days:

Since his escape, Napoleon was in power and glory again for Hundred Days during which he was attacked by his enemies.

Rout at Waterloo:

Though Napoleon was able to deceive the French, he could not hoodwink European nations. His enemies decided to smash his power again. In June 1815, Wellington and Blucher planned to combine their forces. Napoleon marched to Belgium to foil their plans, but he was disastrously defeated for the last time on June 18, 1815 in the Battle of Waterloo. All his hopes were now shattered.

Exiled Again:

He withdrew to Paris, whence he wished to escape to America, but English ships prevented him at Roche fort. He then surrendered to the captain of the Bellerophon. He was taken to England and from there he was exiled to the distant island  of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. He died there of cancer in 1821 without being able to see France again.

Causes of Downfall:

Unlimited ego, boundless lust for power and personal glorification, alienation of the people, enmity towards all other powers, impractical schemes and great sufferings of the people brought about Napoleon’s downfall.

Estimate of Napoleon:-

Napoleon is one of the greatest figures of history and deserves  permanent place in its pages. We may briefly analyses here his character and achievements, and drawbacks and failures.

Man of Strong Character and will:

Napoleon was a man of very strong character and iron will and determination. He wag intelligent and hard working and had great aims and aspirations. He thought that nothing was impossible, and said that the word impossible is only to be found in a fool’s dictionary. He was very ambitious and wished to be the master of Europe. He was able to realize many of his ambitions for at least some time. He became the master of France, and for a decade he could impose his will on Europe.

A Great General:

Napoleon can be ranked among the greatest generals of the world like Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Julius Caesar and Charlemagne. The unknown Corsican soldier steadily rose from power to power by dint of his military genius. His brilliant campaigns in Italy, his victories at Marengo, Jena, Austerlitz and several other battle-fields, and the dazzling manner in which he defended himself when the greatest armies of Europe were sent against him testified to his greatness as a commander of extraordinary caliber. Nations, which wanted to trap him and exile him, were at a loss to find a general to match him.It was only after the best armies of half a dozen big nations could be mobilized and their best generals brought together that it was possible to crush his power.

Took Revolutionary Ideas to Foreign Countries :-

As a Child of the Revolution? he led the revolutionary armies of France to brilliant victories in other countries and gave expression to the ideas of the French Revolution wherever he went. The principle of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity reverberated in Europe, as he moved from one battle to another. He shook the countries of Europe, roused the various oppressed, peoples in them, and made them conscious of nationalism and liberty. Though immediately after he was completely overthrown, the map of Europe was redrawn and the boundaries of countries were revised, Europe was never again what it was in the pre-Napoleonie days. It was Napoleon, who stirred the Germans, Italians and other peoples, brought some amount of unity in them, and made them ask for more in later days. In about fifty years after his, death, Germany and Italy became nations.

Napoleon liquidated the Holy Roman Empire by establishing the Rhine Confederation. The ruler of Austria dropped the title of Holy Roman Emperor and took the comparatively humble title of Emperor of Austria.

Great Administrator:-

He was an administrator and statesman of the highest type. He changed the administrative complexion of France at a time when peace and order was in jeopardy, and the country was caught in despair. He introduce far-reaching reforms, and made France prosperous and great. Even today France has landmarks to show the touch of Napoleonic genius

He improved administration in various ways. He established good public schools, constructed canals, built good roads, fine bridges and arches. He reformed the monetary system and founded the Bank of France. He reorganized the police system and appointed legal luminaries to simplify laws and codify them.

The Code Napoleon:

Among his great reforms, the making of the Code Napoleon (1804) deserves special mention. This was the earliest of the modern codes of France. It amalgamated the old Roman law currently prevailing in France, with French customary law and several liberal principles of the French Revolution, chiefly the principle of equality. The Code Napoleon became the basis for the codes of Belgium and Holland and also of the codes of several other European countries in the 19th century.

Napoleon’s civil law was better codified than criminal law. Civil equality, religious toleration, and the status of farmers, workers and women were all dealt with in a clear cut manner.

Through his different administrative measures and political integration, he promoted unity. In several respects Napoleon’s benevolent despotism was evident. He gave religious toleration to all German lands in his empire. Administration was simplified, invidious privileges were abolished, and serfdom was removed in Germany, North Italy, Belgium and other countries.

His practical-mindedness as a statesman was evident from his attitude towards the Church. He believed that he could not win popular support without religion. Many people in France and other countries were loyal to the Catholic Church, and Napoleon did not wish to antagonist it. He made Roman Catholicism state religion, but did not return the Church property confiscated by the revolutionaries. The authority of the Pope was partly restored, and the clergy got back some of their old privileges. He also wish ed to use Christian missionaries for political purposes.

Drawbacks and Failures of Napoleon:-

Napoleon met his Leipzig and Waterloo owing to serious drawbacks in his character and dealings.

Excessive Pride:

Excessive pride was a serious drawback in  Napoleon, Europe had to pay a heavy price for his boundless ego. He was prepared to sacrifice thousands of lives and bring misery to people: to satisfy his ego. When his ego was hurt after the disaster and humiliation in Russia, he took the ridiculous decision of forcing old men and boys to fight for him.

Misled France and Other Countries:

He misled France, He posed as a champion of the revolutionary principles like Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for building up his own power and glory. Before long it was clear that he trampled underfoot these great ideals, which. he pretended to uphold. While on the one hand he gave lip sympathy to the ideas of the French Revolution, on the other hand, he used his military strength to realize his selfish ambitions. He intrigued on a large scale, and made shocking matrimonial alliances with the champions of the old order. His marriage with the Austrian princess shocked all those who trusted him, and his proposal to marry the Tsar’s daughter further proved the gap between his profession and practice. He roused great expectations among the French, who adored him, but finally let them down.

Revolutionary France had abolished monarchy, but this did not prevent him from making himself emperor and from ruling in an absolute manner denying liberty to the people. He oppressed and taxed France and the countries under him; heavily to meet the expenditure of his never-ending wars.

Free press had no place in his regime. Several newspapers were suppressed, and only the slave press was tolerated. In his system of education, he expected institutions to produce students who would be loyal to the emperor. Napoleon, who had for some time personified France, could not be permanently regarded as the complement of the French Revolution.

His endless wars, pretensions and hypocrisy, and complete disregard for the freedom of the people made him the common enemy of all European nations, which found his jackboot very heavy. All freedom-loving peoples fought against him at Leipzig and Waterloo. The-defeat and the anti-climax of Napoleon was hailed as some thing he richly deserved. It is curious, that, while in exile in the tropical island of St. Helena, he was s reported to have said that brute force never triumphs.

Crazy and Impossible Plans:

Napoleon’s crazy and impossible plans led him to complete ruin. He tried to enforce the Continental System, which was neither just nor practicable, though he did not have the means and ability to implement it. Even in France itself, he could not enforce it, as his own army depended on English supplies. The shoes, overcoats and other equipment of the French troops had to come from England. His crazy Russian campaign destroyed about 500,000 soldiers. Only a totally power-mad and intellectually bankrupt general would think of waging war on an 800-mile Russian front Without adequate means and long-term planning.

Challenging Whole of Europe:

It is difficult to understand how Napoleon could think of challenging the whole of Europe at a time when the entire Napoleonic empire was against his oppressive rule and when all European nations regarded him as & common enemy to be shunned and destroyed. Had Napoleon moderated his ambition with practical wisdom and compromise, he would not have been routed and exiled Napoleon undoubtedly sign ed his own death warrant in Europe by his excesses.

The Congress of  Vienna:

The Napoleonic Wars technically came to an end by the treaties of May. 1814 and November 1815. These were called the first and second Treaties of Paris. To redraw the map of Europe and to provide for stable peace, the leading statesmen of Europe met at the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815).

Costly Mistakes:

The Congress of Vienna was dominated by Prince Metternich, the Chancellor of Austria. The other important figures. were Castlereagh of England, Tsar Alexander I of Russia  and Talleyrand of France. With all their experience in statesmanship and diplomacy, they grievously erred, and sowed the seeds of the never ending troubles of Europe in the 19th century, They were blind to the realities and ignored the main issues. Selfish interests guided them, and they were incapable of f taking truly wise decisions.

Old Dynasties Revived:

Old dynasties were re-established everywhere. As the son of Louis XVI had died in prison in 1795, his brother Louis XVIII was made king. Thus the Bourbons of France were restored. The Bourbon, Ferdinand became the king of Spain. The Italian princes were put back on their respective thrones. The Holy Roman Empire was not restored. Its place was takes by the German Confederation of Thirty eight States under Austrian domination.

Clock Put Back:

The Congress of Vienna put back the clock of progress. At least temporarily the fruit of the French Revolution were lost. The Congress was a triumph for the champions of the old, decaying and discredited order of Europe. The values rejected by the French Revolutionaries were restored, and Europe was made to suffer again.

Nationalism and Democracy Treated with Contempt:

The greatest blunder committed by Metternich and his friends was not only to ignore nationalism and democracy, but also to treat them with contempt. They turned a Nelsonian eye to the hopes and aspirations of the European peoples, and emphasized that-all the complicated problems of Europe were the result of the twin dangers of nationalism and democracy. Metternich, the high priest of the Congress of Vienna, detested peoples who aspired for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. He was an enthusiastic champion of ruthless autocracy and discredited aristocracy. As a sworn enemy of the liberal forces, he wanted to wean Europe away from, nationalism and democracy.

Artificial Boundaries Drawn:

The map of the Napoleonic Empire was torn to pieces, and a new map of Europe was drawn. In revising the frontiers of the European countries, the statesmen ignored the realities.

The Congress of Vienna brought unwilling countries together, while it separated countries which wished to be together. Unification or disintegration was made most recklessly and arbitrarily.

Countries were created and boundaries marked with utter disregard to the wishes of the people. Italy was kept divided by breaking it up into eight states. Napoleon had created in Italy some unity, which was now destroyed. The people of North Italy were once again brought under Austrian domination.

The unhappy union of Norway and Sweden was brought about by handing over Norway to Sweden. Russia’s rule over Finland was continued. Great injustice was done to Germany by creating 38 states in it, and these were to be ruled by a Diet controlled by Austria.

The union of Holland and Belgium was like an unhappy marriage. When the Dutch Republic was destroyed, its Protestant inhabitants were expected to live with the Catholics of Belgium in a the new artificial union.

Spoils of War: All decisions detrimental to the peoples interests but favorable to the old guards were taken. The big statesmen tried to get as much as possible from the spoils of war.

Quadruple Alliance:

The victorious powers formed the Quadruple Alliance consisting of Austria, Russia, Prussia and Eng. land with the primary aim of implementing the decisions of the Congress of Vienna Metternich and his friends showed over enthusiasm in putting into effect all the unwise and unpopular decisions. They wanted to support European governments to put down movements for liberty in Europe and in the Latin American countries. Spain and Portugal were encouraged to suppress the Latin American movements for freedom.

England, which believed that every nation should be allowed to have the kind of government it liked, could not exert sufficient influence, and she withdrew from the Metternich System. The United States of America also was dead against it.

Great Uneasiness :

The unfortunate and shortsighted decisions of the Congress of Vienna created uneasiness in Europe. There could be no peace, as artificial boundaries drawn by self-seeking politicians could not endure long. Rebellions and wars in the nineteenth century were the result of the unfortunate decisions made by Metternich and his friends.