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Three myths about the Congress of Vienna

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Re: Three myths about the Congress of Vienna

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 30th, 2017, 12:49 pm

I'm not sure if Sen was meaning to infer that the Revolutions and rebellions from 1816-1854/1870 were solely a consequence of Vienna, rather at least in this instance he is observing that the idea of the Congress of Vienna safeguarding peace in Europe because of its results doesn't quite fit with the multiple Wars that erupted between 1816 and 1853 and onwards.

Wether or not the nation's of the congress were dividing the spoils seems beside the point that decisions had to be made about territorial acquisition and sovereignty, not to mention what to do about dismantling the Napoleonic system of buffer states.

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Re: Three myths about the Congress of Vienna

Postby DaveH » October 31st, 2017, 9:55 pm

It is Bonapartist propaganda, because they try to imply that the other nations were simply reactionary and seeking to gain territory. It overlooks both French expansionism and the rebellions against the burdens of French rule in Spain and Calabria. In other places, support was not secure and so, it would have been long before 1848 that rebellions would have broken out elsewhere. You cannot preach egalite after the Enlightenment and then impose a monarchial regime. Most of the conflicts between 1815 and 1848 were down to popular uprisings - either for egalite or nationalists seeking to offload monarchial regimes (France, Poland, Belgium and northern Italy). Then N3 tries to emulate his uncle, which causes more trouble in Italy (although it seems that 155 years later, Lombardy and Venetia rather seem to regret that one). The first multi-national war was arguably the Crimea and even that was peripheral to the Vienna settlement.

If you go further, Franz Ferdinand was planning a federal Austro-Hungarian-Slav empire when nationalists pushed Europe into cataclysmic war a century after the Congress. They rue the end result to this day. Metternich tried to establish an equilibrium to control many pressures, including those set off by the French Revolution. That Europe had spent 200 years at war and was peaceful amongst its major powers for the next 100 was a result of the Congress and certainly the antics of 2 Napoleons and a lot of nationalists only ended in upsetting it. Perhaps the pressures were too great even for the Congress and in containing them for a century, it was successful, but maybe meant the ultimate explosion was worse? While Charles did write in 1801 that "An empire like Austria does not collapse without engulfing Europe in its death throes", and so reflected Austrian policy of maintaining the balance, I am not sure Metternich could have foreseen WW1.
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Re: Three myths about the Congress of Vienna

Postby Senarmont198 » November 1st, 2017, 10:38 pm

Josh,

Two things:

First, I believe that the series of revolutions that followed Napoleon's fall were a direct result of 'dividing the loot' at Vienna. Russia wanted Poland, and that had been a major cause of the invasion of 1812, which the French called the Second Polish War. Alexander had been making overtures to the Poles, which were rebuffed, into making the Duchy of Warsaw part of Russia with Alexander as their overlord.

Austria wanted northern Italy back, and the dissolution of the Kingdom of Italy was not in anyway a favor for the northern Italians. The Pope got the Papal States back, reinstated ecclesiastical rule which included the reestablishment of the Jewish Ghetto (which Napoleon had abolished) and the reinstatement of the Inquisition in Rome.

The British forced Belgium and Holland into a union that neither people wanted.

Prussia took half of Saxony, imprisoned the Saxon king, and gobbled up as much of Germany as she could get her hands on. The Rhineland certainly was not happy with becoming Prussia as it had been French for 20 years. The result of Prussian rule in Saxony resulted in a mutiny of that half of the Saxon army that had been forced into Prussian service.

Ferdinand came back to resume autocratic rule in Spain and to treat those who had fought for him against the French shabbily.

Second, the abolishing of French-inspired civil reforms in Italy, Germany, and Poland by the 'new order' caused civil unrest that would eventually cause multiple revolutions throughout Europe.

In France, the Bourbons were not popular and had been forced on the French people by the allies. The Revolution of 1830 would get rid of them, and the Revolution of 1848 would once again bring on a French republic. Interestingly, the solid governmental and social reforms instituted by Napoleon were so ingrained into French society that the Bourbons had to keep them in place. And it was their failure/refusal to abide by the provisions of the 1814 Treaty of Fontainebleu that guaranteed Napoleon a salary to pay his household and Guard that brought Napoleon back from Elba. The Bourbon's shabby treatment of the French army in 1814 was another reason Napoleon returned. The White Terror which jailed, executed/murdered, or forced into exile Napoleon's followers after Waterloo was another shameful episode conducted by the Bourbons.

The return of the exiled ruling houses in much of Europe was a setback for their populations. The taking over of parts of the French Empire by the Russians, Prussians, and Austrians was worse.
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Re: Three myths about the Congress of Vienna

Postby Josh&Historyland » November 2nd, 2017, 12:33 am

Fair enough Sen. I must have misread your post. Both of you seem to have good points but I've not studied the effects of the Congress deeply enough to offer anything to this discussion except to say I have to conclude from a superficial perspective that it did not bring peace in the way people seem to think it did. Perhaps it can be said that it kept the great powers out of each other's hair until the Crimean war, but many countries of Europe would see war between the Congress and 1853.
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Re: Three myths about the Congress of Vienna

Postby Senarmont198 » November 3rd, 2017, 11:37 am

Not only war, but internal dissension and civil war. The revolutions of 1830 and 1848 were important to the modern development of Europe, sometimes to its detriment. The unification of Germany was definitely not a plus. The western German states resisted being engulfed by either Prussia or Austria for a long time, and that was the main reason many of them chose France in 1805 and beyond in order to retain their independence. Brendan Simms has written on the subject in some depth and it is an interesting one.

The campaigns of 1805 and 1809 began with an Austrian invasion of Bavaria, in the latter the Archduke Charles was counting on a 'German' uprising against the French, and that fizzled. In point of fact, the majority of the Confederation states contributed significant combat power to the Army of Germany and that contribution was an important factor in Austria's defeat.

Prussia was after Saxony since at least 1757 and finally was 'awarded' half of it in 1814, including half of the Saxon Army. The history of Russia and Poland is a very sad one for the Poles with Russia always wanting to rule Poland regardless of what the Poles wanted.
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