Paper: A Brief History of the Congress of Vienna, Convened in 1815 by the Four European Powers Which Had Defeated Napoleon

The Congress of Vienna was convened in 1815 by the four European powers, which had defeated Napoleon. The first goal was to establish a new balance of power in Europe, which would prevent imperialism within Europe, such as the Napoleonic Empire, and maintain the peace between the great powers. The second goal was to prevent political revolutions, such as the French Revolution, and maintain the status quo. Disagreement between Russia and Prussia on the one hand and Britain and Austria on the other about boundary provisions in Eastern Europe led to a threat of renewed hostilities. The British enlisted the new French government, under the restored Bourbon dynasty in the person of King Louis XVIII, as an ally. France was invited to send a representative to the Congress of Vienna and was, thereafter, involved as the fifth great power of the Grand Alliance. Agreement was reached avoiding war. Prussian boundaries were expanded westward to confront the French with a greater power on their eastern border. The Kingdom of the Netherlands, which included both Holland and Belgium, was created for the same reason. When that arrangement collapsed and an independent Belgium was recognized, the great powers accomplished their objectives by signing a treaty among themselves in 1837, which guaranteed the neutrality of Belgium and Holland. This treaty remained in effect until 1914. There was not another European-wide war for a century. When Germany marched into Belgium in 1914, thus violating the neutrality of the Lowlands, the First World War began. There were, however, other conflicts in the nineteenth century, such as the Crimean War, the Franco-Austrian War, the Austro-Prussian War, and the Franco-Prussian War. But these were limited by both time and geography, and did not involve all of the great powers. The second goal, to restore "legitimate or traditional governments to power and to prevent political revolutions, or to maintain the status quo met with partial success in the short term, but was bound to fail in the long term because it opposed the irresistible forces of historical change resulting from modernization. Those irresistible forces took the form of the dual revolutions of liberalism and nationalism. ...