Concert of Europe

The Concert of Europe , also known as the Congress System or the Vienna System after the Congress of Vienna , was a system of dispute resolution adopted by the conservative powers of Europe to maintain their power, opposing revolutionary movements, weaken the forces of nationalism, and uphold the balance of power . Historians date its operation from the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815) to the early 1820s, although some see it playing a role until the Crimean War (1853-1856). [1]


The Concert of Europe was founded by the powers of Austria , Prussia , Russia and the United Kingdom , which were members of the Quadruple Alliance that defeated Napoleon and his First French Empire . In time, France was established as a fifth member of the Concert, following the restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy .

At first, the leading personalities of the system Were British foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh , Austrian Chancellor Klemens Metternich and Czar Alexander I of Russia. Charles Maurice of Talleyrand-Périgord of France was responsible for the country and the other major powers in international diplomacy.

Prince Metternich , Austrian Chancellor and an influential leader in the Concert of Europe.

The age of the concert is known as the age of metallurgy , due to the influence of the Austrian chancellor’s conservatism and the dominance of Austria within the German Confederation, or the European Restoration , because of the reactionary efforts of the Congress of Vienna restore Europe to its state before the French Revolution . It is known in German as the Pentarchy(pentarchy) and in Russian as the Vienna System (Венская система, Venskaya sistema ).

The Concert of Europe had no written rules or permanent institutions, but at times of crisis of the member states could propose a conference. [2] Aachen (1818), Carlsbad (1819), Troppau (1820), Laibach (1821), Verona (1822), London (1832) and Berlin (1878) Meetings of the Great Powers during this period .

The Concert’s effectiveness came to an end because of many factors such as the British distrust of Russia. [3]


Gottfried Leibniz [4] and Lord Grenville, the idea of ​​a European Federation . [5] The Concert of Europe, as developed by Metternich, drew upon their ideas and the notion of a balance of power in international relations , so that the ambitions of each Great Power would be restrained by the others:

The Concert of Europe, which has been established at the time of the world, which was derived from the final Act of the Vienna Congress , which stipulated that the boundaries were established in 1815 consent of its eight signatories. [6]

French Revolution

From the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792 to the exile of Napoleon to St. Helena in 1815, Europe had been almost constantly at war. During this time, the military conquests of France had resulted in the spread of liberalism throughout the continent, resulting in many states adopting the Napoleonic code . Largely as a reaction to the radicalism of the French Revolution , [7] most victorious powers of the Napoleonic Wars resolved to suppress liberalism and nationalism , and revert largely to the status quo of Europe prior to 1789.[8]

Holy Alliance

The Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian and Russian empires formed the Holy Alliance (26 September 1815) with the express intent of preserving Christian social values ​​and traditional monarchism . [9] Every member of the anti-Napoleonic coalition promptly joined the Alliance, except for the United Kingdom, a constitutional monarchy with a more liberal political philosophy. The great powers were now in a system of meeting a problem arose. Britain and France did not send their representatives because they opposed the idea of ​​intervention.

Quadruple Alliance

Britain did however ratify the Quadruple Alliance , signed on the same day as the Second Peace Treaty of Paris (20 November 1815), which became the Quintuple Alliance when France joined in 1818. It was also signed by the three powers that had signed the Holy Alliance on 26 September 1815. [10]

Differences between the Holy Alliance and the Quadruple Alliance

There have been much debate between historians in the field of international relations in Europe in the two decades following the end of the Napoleonic Wars. In the opinion of historian Tim Chapman, the differences are somewhat academic, and they are not bound by the terms of the treaties and many of them. [11]

The Holy Alliance was the brainchild of Tsar Alexander I. It won a lot of support from the world, it was easy to ignore, it was easy to ignore ounce signed. Only three notable princes did not sign: Pope Pius VII , Sultan Mahmud II of the Ottoman Empire , and the British Prince Regent because of his government did not wish to pledge itself to the policing of continental Europe. In the opinion of Lord Castlereagh, the British foreign secretary at the time of its inception, the Holy Alliance was „a piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense“. [11]Although it did not fit comfortably within the complex, the sophistication of the post-Napoleonic era, its impact was more important than its contemporary criticism and was revised in the 1820s as a tool of repression when The terms of the Quintuple Alliance have been considered by some of the Great Powers of Europe. [12]

The Quadruple Alliance, by contrast, was a standard treaty, and the four Great Powers did not invite any of their allies to sign it. The primary objective was to bind the signatories to the Second Treaty of Paris for 20 years. It is a provision for the High Contracting Parties to „renew their meeting at fixed periods … for the purpose of consulting on their common interests“ which were „the prosperity of the nations, and the maintenance of peace in Europe“. [13] A problem with the wording of Article VIof the treaty is that it was not specified what these „fixed periods“ were to be in the convention of the conference. This Meant que le first conference in 1818 Dealt with remaining issues of the French wars, aim After That INSTEAD of meeting at „fixed periods“ the meetings Were Arranged is an ad hoc basis, to address specific threats, Such As Those Posed by revolutions , for which the treaty was not drafted. [14]


  • The Congress of Aachen (1818) resolved the issues of Allied occupation of France and restored that country to equal status with Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia.
  • The Congress of Troppau (1820) decreed that in the event of a revolution could be expelled from the European Alliance, and armed intervention could be used to „bring back the guilty state into the bosom of the Great Alliance“.
  • The Congress of Laibach (1821)
  • In 1822, the Congress of Verona met to decide whether France could intervene on the side of the Spanish royalists in the Liberal Trienio . After receiving permission, Louis XVIII dispatched five army corps to restore Ferdinand VII of Spain .

Collapse by 1823

The territorial boundaries are maintained; even more important, there was an acceptance of the theme of balance with no major aggression. [15] Otherwise, the Congress system, says historian Roy Bridge, „failed“ by 1823. [16] In 1818, the British decided not to become involved in continental issues . They rejected the plan of Alexander I to suppress future revolutions. The concert system fell apart as the common goals of the Great Powers were replaced by growing political and economic rivalries. [17] Artz says the Congress of Verona in 1822 „marked the end.“ [18]There was no Congress called to restore the old system during the great revolutionary upheavals of 1848 with their demands for revision of the Congress of Vienna’s frontiers along national lines. [19]

Historian Paul Hayes says of British Foreign Minister George Canning :

His most important achievement was the destruction of the neo-Holy Alliance system which, if unchallenged, must have dominated Europe. Canning is not enough for Britain to boycott conferences and congresses; It was essential to persuade the authorities that their interests could not be advanced by a system of intervention based on the principles of legitimacy, anti-nationalism and hostility to revolution. [20]

See also

  • European balance of power
  • International relations (1814-1919)
  • Balance of power in international relations
  • Great power


  1. Jump up^ Elrod, Richard B. „The Concert of Europe: A Fresh Look at an International System“ . World Politics . 28 (2): 159-174. doi : 10.2307 / 2009888 . Retrieved 16 June 2017 – via Cambridge Core.
  2. Jump up^ Stevenson, David (2004). 1914 – 1918: The History of the First World War . Penguin Books. p. 4. ISBN  978-0-14-026817-1 .
  3. Jump up^ Guy Arnold (2002). Historical Dictionary of the Crimean War . p. 65.
  4. Jump up^ Loemker, Leroy (1969) [1956]. Leibniz: Philosophical Papers and Letters . Reidel. p. 58, fn 9.
  5. Jump up^ Sherwig, John M. (September 1962). „Lord Grenville’s Plan for a Concert of Europe, 1797-99“. The Journal of Modern History . 34 (3): 284-293. doi :10.1086 / 239117 .
  6. Jump up^ Soutou, Georges-Henri (November 2000). „Was There a European Order in the Twentieth Century? From the Concert of Europe to the End of the Cold War“. Contemporary European History . Theme Issue: Reflections on the Twentieth Century. 9 (3): 330.
  7. Jump up^ Soutou 2000, p. 329.
  8. Jump up^ Soutou 2000, p. 330.
  9. Jump up^   Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). „Spahn, M. (1910) Holy Alliance“ . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company . Retrieved 2011-05-21 .
  10. Jump up^ Chapman, Tim (2006). The Congress of Vienna 1814-1815 . Routledge. p. 60 . ISBN  9781134680504 .
  11. ^ Jump up to:b Chapman 2006 , p. 60.
  12. Jump up^ Chapman 2006, p. 61.
  13. Jump up^ Chapman 2006, p. 62.
  14. Jump up^ Chapman 2006, pp. 61-62.
  15. Jump up^ Craig Gordon, „The System of Alliances and the Balance of Power.“ in JPT Bury, ed.,The New Cambridge Modern History, Vol. 10: The Zenith of European Power, 1830-70(1960) p 266.
  16. Jump up^ Roy Bridge, „Allied Diplomacy in Peacetime: The Failure of the Congress‘ System, ‚1815-23‘ in Alan Sked, ed.,Europe’s Balance of Power, 1815-1848(1979), pp 34-53
  17. Jump up^ CW Crawley, „International Relations, 1815-1830“ in CW Crawley, ed.,The New Modern Cambridge History: Volume 9, War and Peace in an Age of Upheaval, 1793-1830. Flight. 9(1965) pp 669-71, 676-77, 683-86.
  18. Jump up^ Frederick B. Artz,Reaction & Revolution: 1814-1832(1934) p 170.
  19. Jump up^ Paul W. Schroeder,The Transformation of European Politics: 1763-1848(1996) p 800.
  20. Jump up^ Paul Hayes,Modern British Foreign Policy: The 19th Century 1814-80(A & C Black, 1975) p 89