After the triumphant alliance Austria, Russia, Prussia and Great Britain finally defeated Napoleon in 1814. The rulers realized they needed to arrange a meeting with the representatives of smaller governments and settle all the controversial issues that appeared during the aggressive actions of France. This resulted in a famous Congress of Vienna which lasted for several months and was meant to become a base for peaceful and legitimate situation in Europe. The main representatives of the Congress were Klemens von Metternich, the Austrian minister of state, Czar Alexander I, the emperor of Russia, Lord Robert Castlereigh of Great Britain, Prince Karl August von Hardenberg from Prussia and Charles Talleyrand who initially was supposed to be an observing party but ended up as a full participant from France.
The foremost task of the Congress was to try to establish the balance of powers in Europe and thus avoid any possible continental war and ensure the peace and stability in Europe. Of course every country had its own interests and expectations from that Congress but they had one extremely important common concern. They wanted to come back in time to the point before Napoleon’s actions and French Revolution, reorganize European boundaries and establish a strong coalition of nations that would be able to take control if some of the countries got out of hand. The countries-participants were highly motivated to discourage any country or alliance of countries from dominating. As a result France got dispossessed of all the territories vanquished by Napoleon.
There were a lot of significant outcomes of the Congress. Among some of the most important were the unification of The Dutch Republic and the Austrian Netherlands in The Kingdom of the Netherlands governed by the House of Orange, the unification of Sweden and Norway, the Austria’s repossession of the lost territories and acquiring some land in Germany and Italy, the obtaining of Finland and control over Poland by Russia and the Prussia’s gain of Saxon and some territories in Westphalia and the Rhine Province. Also we can call the major consequence of the Congress the fact that France and Spain were restored under the rule of Louis XVIII and Ferdinand VII respectively. The Switzerland was proclaimed neutral and Great Britain received some colonial territories as well as the control of the seas.
We can consciously say that the Congress of Vienna turned out to be very fruitful for all the countries. With the help of this Congress the countries-participants managed to establish peace and stability in Europe for the next 40 years. This accounts to the territorial changes of European countries made mainly for the nations to be able to oppose France in future. The powers also agreed to meet regularly to handle the common interests. The system of Congress lasted for many years and later on was named the “Concert of Europe” and it was successful in preventing any possible European hostilities over the nineteenth century.
Needless to say there were still disagreements between European leaders. The Conservatives wanted to fully restore the old order and keep it the way it used to be. Klemens von Metternich was the main representative of this idea. He believed that only the mixture of monarchy and aristocracy could build the order over again and that those who promoted liberal ideas wanted to demolish the existing order. He persecuted people for liberal or radical beliefs. However liberalism kept extending. The Liberals wanted to abolish the monarchial order and believed that every country needed to establish an independent representative government. Metternich had to oppose to this idea due to the main reason – his country’s population was large and contained many nationalities. Thus the liberal ideas could cause the dissatisfaction and the nationalist sentiments in the Austrian empire which would result in its destruction. The victorious parties represented Conservatives as they did their best to reinstate the old order.
As we can see the situation in post-napoleonic Europe was very tense and needed immediate intervention from the leaders. The most important task was to prevent any other revolution from arising because the example of the French Revolution was pretty deterrent. At that point the Great Powers needed to join their forces in the attempts to re-establish peace and stability among European nations and balance their powers so that no country could get out of control. Looking back we can declare that arranging the Congress of Vienna was an extremely wise and productive decision at that time. The European leaders took their actions as a well-organized union and succeeded in handling their common concerns. They managed to keep peaceful state of affairs between all the nations in Europe for the next 40 years even despite the disagreements between Liberals and Conservatives. They basically stopped the revolutions in their countries and contrived to go twenty years back in time to Europe before Napoleon and French Revolution. This definitely confirms that the Congress of Vienna was a turning point in the development of Europe after the Napoleon’s actions.