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The Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was an international peace conference for the countries of Europe. The goals of the Congress of Vienna were to have peace throughout Europe and have no wars or fights. The Congress was formed because there had been many wars in the past. The Congress of Vienna was made mostly of conservatives, but had some liberals as well. Some of the influential leaders were Czar Alexander I of Russia, King Frederick William III of Prussia, Lord Castlereagh who was the British foreign minister, and Prince Klemens von Metternich who was the Austrian foreign minister.
The Congress of Vienna attained peace in Europe by doing a number of things. One way they attained this is using legitimacy, which is restoring the royal families to their throne. One example is that the Congress recognized Louis XVIII as the legitimate king of France. Another way they attained peace in Europe is restoring the balance of power between the countries in Europe. To do this, they reduced France to its 1790 frontiers, and they strengthened the countries on the borders of France. Also, to the north of France, the Dutch and Austrian Netherlands were united into a single country called the Netherlands, which was ruled by a Dutch king. To the east, 39 German states were loosely joined into the German Confederation, headed by Austria. The Congress also recognized Switzerland as an independent nation. It also strengthened the kingdom of Sardinia in northern Italy by giving it Piedmont and Genoa. All these variations helped Europe to obtain peace.
The Congress of Vienna had kept its peace for nearly one hundred years. It maintained this peace by the Concert of Europe. To protect the peace settlement reached at Vienna, the Quadruple Alliance was formed with Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia; France was later added to the alliance. These countries met to deal with any threat to the peace and stability of Europe. Czar Alexander proposed a Holy Alliance that would bind all rulers to govern according to Christian principles. These two alliances acted together to preserve the peace along with the Concert of Europe which preserved the balance of power and prevented local conflicts from flaring into a major European conflict. Another way the Congress maintained the peace is the Metternich system. This is to defend the status quo, which is the existing state of affairs; and the Carlsbad Decrees, which are laws that imposed press censorship and suppressed freedom of speech.
After Europe's one hundred years of peace, it had a downfall which cause the Congress of Vienna to break down into nothing. It broke down because of Europe's brief, localized conflicts, such as the Crimean and Franco-Prussian wars. Many rivalries among nations led to mistrust and even hatred, the countries came on the brink of war. The main reason for breakup was WWI, where Germany had become very powerful which upset the balance of power. The other countries then form alliances and there is a breakout of WWI which demolished the hundred years of peace.
The Congress of Vienna was a great importance to Europe because of the great peace it provided to Europe for one hundred years. Factors such as the Concert of Europe, Metternich System, legitimacy, and the balance of power all provided help in forming and maintaining the Congress. The outbreak of WWI was the extreme termination of the great Congress.
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