The other European leaders wanted to create a long-lasting period of peace in Europe after Napoleon’s defeat. They met in Vienna, the Congress of Vienna, where they set up policies for this goal. This congress lasted for eight months, not the expected four weeks.

  • Metternich’s Plan for Europe

    Many decisions made during the Congress of Vienna were secret, carried out by Russia, Prussia, Austria, Great Britain, and France. The most influential was Prince Klemens of Austria.

    He distrusted the democratic ideals of the French Revolution, feeling that Napoleon’s behavior was a result of democracy. Metternich wanted to restore the past by surrounding France with other strong nations to keep France weak. He also wanted balanced power so all the countries were equally powerful. Finally, he wanted the royal families restored to their thrones.

    • The Containment of France
      • The Congress of Vienna made the countries surrounding France stronger by joining the Austrian Netherlands with the Dutch Republic, creating a German Confederation, forming Switzerland, and expanding the Kingdom of Sardinia.
      • The other countries of Europe believed this could help stop France from overpowering their nations.
    • Balance of Power
      • The other nations wanted to make France weak, not powerless. They did not want to be too harsh and end up encouraging France to rebel. Therefore, France was still a major power. Therefore, no country in Europe could conquer another.
    • Legitimacy
      • The great powers decided on the principle of legitimacy, returning the original rulers to their thrones. France, Spain, and many other states were once again ruled by the royal families.
      • This congress succeeded as the entire continent had agreed on peace. The Congress helped prevent future wars. This peace lasted for 40 years.
  • Political Changes Beyond Vienna

    The Congress of Vienna helped the conservatives, allowing Kings and princes to regain power. However, some countries had major differences: Britain and France were constitutional monarchies. Other governments were more conservative.

    • Conservative Europe
      • The new rulers were scared of French Revolution ideas. They united in an Alliance to combat the revolutionary ideas. Finally, the Concert of Europe made sure the nations would help each other defeat revolutions.
      • The conservatives were strong rulers, but they could not stop the ideas. France was divided between Louis XVIII and the legislature.
      • This split between Enlightenment and traditional ideas led to many other political upheavals.
      • The Congress of Vienna could not stop this, and new ideas came into motion.
    • Revolution in Latin America
      • The Congress of Vienna’s decisions spread across the world. The colonists had broken free. When the Spanish government tried to regain control, the colonists fought back.
      • The Mexicans revolted and fought off Spain. Many other colonies also declared independence. At the same time, Brazil became independent from Portugal.
    • Long-Term Legacy
      • The Congress of Vienna’s legacy continued to influence the politics of the world for nearly 100 years. This attempt to create peace weakened France but strengthened Britain and Prussia.
      • Nationalism spread across nations, leading to revolutions and forming new nations. Colonies broke away from their founders.
      • Meanwhile, ideas were still evolving and democracy became the best way to ensure equality and justice for all. The French revolution had changed European ideas and assumptions, starting a new era.