by Lacey Donohue, Class of 1999
The Congress of Vienna was an international
conference that was called in order to remake Europe after the downfall of Napoleon I.
Many territorial decisions had to be made in the conference that was held in Vienna,
Austria, from September 1814 to June 1815. The main goal of the conference was to create a
balance of power that would preserve the peace.
Though the conference opened with a series of glittery balls and conferences, the
delegates soon got down to work. Mainly, the four major powers of Europe (Austria, Russia,
Prussia, and Great Britain) were left to make most of the big decisions. Austria was
represented by Prince Klemens von Metternich, the Austrian minister of state who was also
acting president of the Congress. The Russians sent Alexander I, the emperor of Russia.
The main delegate from Prussia was Prince Karl August von Hardenberg, and Great Britain
was represented by Lord Castlereagh, and later Arthur Wellesley, the first duke of
Wellingtom. This group of major powers decided that France, Spain, and the smaller powers
would have no say in important decisions. However, the French diplomat, Charles Maurice de
Talleyrand, was successful in allowing France to have an equal voice in the negotiations.
Talleyrand became the deciding vote in many of the decisions.
- France was deprived of all territory conquered by Napoleon
- The Dutch Republic was united with the Austrian Netherlands to form a single kingdom of
the Netherlands under the House of Orange.
- Norway and Sweden were joined under a single ruler
- Switzerland was declared neutral
- Russia got Finland and effective control over the new kingdom of Poland
- Prussia was given much of Saxony and important parts of Westphalia and the Rhine
- Austria was given back most of the territory it had lost and was also given land in
Germany and Italy (Lombardia and Venice)
- Britain got several strategic colonial territories, and they also gained control of the
- France was restored under the rule of Louis XVIII.
- Spain was restored under Ferdinand VII
Outcomes of the meeting:
The goal of the congress was to reestablish a balance of power amongst the countries of
Europe and have peace between the nations. The Congress was highly successful in achieving
its goal, for the peace in Europe was left undisturbed for almost 40 years.