The Balance of Power and the Congress of Vienna

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The Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) No event epitomizes the state of Europe in the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars as well as the Congress of Vienna held between 1814-1815. The culmination of centuries of European political tradition, the Congress was in many ways the last gasp of monarchy in Europe, as the royal houses tried to restore the Europe they once knew and ensure that their way of politics and society would be sustained even in the face of the radical wave of change foreshadowed by the French Revolution. At that time of the Congress Europe was in a state of disarray. The French Revolution that erupted in 1792, Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power and the subsequent wars had not only proven…show more content…
Once in full swing, the Congress quickly moved into its first phase, the negotiations over Napoleon’s Duchy of Warsaw, otherwise known as Poland. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had been partitioned between 1772 to 1795 amongst Hapsburg Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Alexander I, demanding compensation for Russia’s efforts against Napoleon pushed for a plan in which the Prussian and Austrian controlled sections of Poland would be combined into a new Kingdom of Poland under Russian control. In exchange for ceding their Polish territories, Prussia would be given the entire kingdom of Saxony, and Austria would be compensated with extensive holdings in northern Italy. (Gulick) This proposition led to the bitterest conflicts at the Congress in what was dubbed the Polish-Saxon Crisis. The Coalition quickly broke into two opposing camps with Great Britain and Austria in opposition to the Russian proposition, and Russia and Prussia in support of it. Metternich’s reasons for opposing Russian hegemony over Poland were the most pressing. Russian control of Poland meant that the Hapsburg Empire would have to share its north and northeastern borders with Russian soldiery. Likewise, if Prussia were to come into possession of Saxony then the northern perimeter of the Empire would be even more susceptible to invasion, and the already strong political bond
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