The The Congress of Vienna

Austria Table of Contents

From September 1814 to June 1815, representatives of the European powers met in Vienna. Guided by Metternich, the Congress of Vienna redrew the map of Europe and laid the foundation for a long period of European peace. The Habsburg Empire emerged with boundaries both more extensive and compact than it had had for several centuries. Belgium and the Habsburg lands in southwest Germany were lost, but Austria regained all other possessions that it had held in 1792 and virtually all of those it had obtained during the long years of war, including Salzburg. The Holy Roman Empire was not resurrected but was replaced with a German Confederation composed of thirty-five sovereign princes and four free cities. Austria held the permanent presidency of the confederation and probably had more real influence in Germany than it had had under the Holy Roman Empire. Austria also enjoyed the dominant position on the Italian peninsula, where it possessed the northern territories of Lombardy and Venetia.

The wartime allies--Austria, Britain, Russia, and Prussia-- concluded the Congress of Vienna by signing the Quadruple Alliance, which pledged them to uphold the peace settlement. In a secondary document, the European monarchs agreed to conduct their policies in accordance with the Christian principles of charity, peace, and love. This "Holy Alliance," proposed by the Russian tsar, was of little practical import, but it gave its name to the cooperative efforts of Austria, Russia, and Prussia to maintain conservative governments in Europe.

Although Austria emerged from the Congress of Vienna as one of the great powers in Europe, throughout the nineteenth century its status and territorial integrity depended on the support of at least one of the other great powers. As long as the allies were willing to cooperate in the "Congress System" to maintain the peace, order, and stability of Europe, Austrian interests were protected. But the other great powers, which were better able to defend their interests by force, did not always share Austria's devotion to Metternich's creation.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress