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Congress System

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


A scheme of regular diplomatic meetings between the major powers, aimed at “maintaining the peace of Europe,” which emerged during the vienna congress of 1814–15. It was then formalized in November 1815 through the quadruple alliance of Austria, Russia, Prussia, and Britain. After Vienna four further gatherings reflected this “system,” whose most influential advocate was the Austrian metternich — a champion of conservatism dedicated to combating the twinned evils of nationalism and liberalism . The Congress that began at Aix-la-Chapelle in September 1818 agreed to an enlargement of membership so as to include “restoration” France, which was now also freed of any further Allied occupation or indemnity requirements. The troppau congress then met in October 1820 to discuss a response to revolutionary stirrings, especially in Spain and Italy. While Austria, Russia, and Prussia advocated a sweeping right to intervention, the British, who had only sent an observer to the meeting, opposed any such generalized license to interfere in the affairs of other states. These strains were still evident when, early in 1821, the powers reconvened at Laibach. Here Metternich secured authorization for the suppression of revolt in Piedmont and Naples, but nothing similar was agreed in respect of Iberian disorder. The fourth meeting, at Verona in October 1822, focused not only on events ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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