The Congress of Vienna and the 100 Days

April 1814. Treaty of Fontainebleau made N emperor of Elba with income of 2,000,000. But Marie Louise and their son wouldn't join him--that's when he took poison. Marie-Louise was made Duchess of Parma--her father and Metternich saw that she was seduced by an Austrian officer and so forgot N. The son was kept and raised in Austria as an Austrian prince. Died in 1832.

N played with organizing Elba. 700 volunteers from the Old Guard arrived there.

Congress in Vienna opened Oct. 1814. Louis XVIII talked of returning land to the émigré nobles and the Church--had learned nothing. Congress stalled as England, Austria, and France resisted Prussian and Russian ambitions in central Europe.

Escape! Grenoble--"Kill your emperor if you must!" In Pris he promised democratic reforms--even Lucien was reconciled--but the Congress considered him an outlaw.

English, Dutch, and Hanoverians under Wellington defended Belgium, Blücher had 120,000 Prussians, and the Russians and Austrians couldn't arrive til July. N was brilliant in keeping them apart, but he didn't have the resources to do it forever, and they cornered him in Waterloo in Belgium.

Blücher would have shot him on sight, so he surrendered to a British sea captain. Hoped for exile in England, but was sent to St. Helena, a 28 square mile rock off the west coast of Angola. He died there May 5, 1821.

The forces of slow, conservative reaction best shown in Edmund Burke, the whig politician who wrote the influential Reflections on the Revolution in France, and especially by Prince Clement Metternich, Austrian foreign minister from 1809-1848. Aristocratic and influenced by the 18th century's faith in enlightened despotism, he needed to turn back the revolution to preserve the sprawling Hapsburg empire. He ran the Congress of Vienna from 1814-15 and used its brilliant dances and balls to distract lesser diplomats while 4 important ones made all the decisions: Metternich, Czar Alexander I, Viscount Castlereigh, British foreign secretary, and Talleyrand, foreign minister of Louis XVIII.

Castlereigh wanted a secure balance of power--no more Bonaparts! Talleyrand had his greatest success at the Conference, acting for defeated France and preventing combinations against her. Alexander I had gone mystic and dreamed of a "Holy Alliance." But he really rocked the boat when he wanted to restore Poland, taking back its Austrian and Prussian partitions, and making himself its king. He got Prussia aboard by promising Saxony in compensation--an augmentation of Prussian power Castlereigh was determined to prevent.

Talleyrand took advantage of this by joining with Castlereigh. Prusia only got half of Saxony, and Alexander got a much reduced Poland with the old partitions intact. Bourbons were restored to France, Spain, and Naples, but Germany was impossible to put together again. A German Confederation with a Diet of independent diplomats (not ambassadors) was created, the leading members of course being Prussia and Austria.

France got its borders of 1792, but after the 100 Days these were reduced to those of 1790--roughly the Old Regime plus Avignon. France had to return all art plunder and pay an indemnity of 700,000,000 francs. A Quadruple Alliance of Britain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia was designed to guard France and keep her good.

Public tended to confuse Quadruple Alliance with Alexander's Holy Alliance,which taught "the policy of the powers...ought to be guided by the sublime truths taught by the eternal religion of God our Savior." Most signed, but Castlereigh thought it nonsense (the first signs of a British split with the continent), and the Pope refused to sign, saying God's vicar didn't need outside advise.

Not as bad a deal as some say. No major conflict after the Peace except the second-rate Crimean War of 1850, and no internatinal war for 100 years. Certainly better that the Versailles settlement of 1919-1920!