Friday, May 18, 2018

Napoleon, Metternich and the Congress of Vienna

 From TCW:
The Congress of Vienna is often seen as an effort to “carve up” Europe among the great powers. France was included as, now that it was back under the control of the King, the other powers wanted it to be seen as taking its proper place amongst European nations. While there is no doubt that each of the Powers sought whatever advantage it could gain, the objective of the Congress was to arrange a net of alliances between powers that meant that any future conflict would inevitably draw in the whole of the continent. They believed that, rather than face war on the scale that Europe had just witnessed, states would negotiate peace. It was, if you like, an early form of Mutually Assured Destruction. It worked, maintaining peace in Europe for almost 100 years. When a major conflict did break out, one by one all of the major European powers were drawn in and the result was World War I. That, I can’t help feeling, is the problem with Mutually Assured Destruction. One day, somebody just can’t resist pressing the big red button. (Read more.)

Shannon Selin discusses the great Austrian diplomat, Clemens von Metternich:
Metternich attempted to erode Napoleon’s power. He arranged the marriage of Napoleon to Marie Louise, the daughter of Austrian Emperor Francis I. Though Metternich credits the French with initiating the marriage, the French chargé d’affaires in Vienna said it was Metternich who first raised the prospect. Metternich successfully duped Napoleon into thinking that Austria supported France’s 1812 invasion of Russia. Meanwhile, Austria secretly encouraged a Russian victory (you can read the details of Metternich’s machinations on the Age of the Sage website). After the French retreat, Metternich dropped the cover of neutrality. He led Austria into outright alliance with the coalition against Napoleon. In a famous encounter described on the Past Now website, Metternich and Napoleon met for the last time on June 26, 1813 in Dresden. According to Metternich, he told Napoleon that he was finished.

With Austria on their side, Russia, Prussia and Britain were able to overthrow Napoleon in 1814. As a reward for his success, Francis I made Metternich a hereditary Prince of the Austrian Empire. Metternich would have liked to see France governed by a regency under Marie Louise, but the Bourbon restoration proposed by Russia, England and the French diplomat Talleyrand won the day. (Read more.)


No comments: