Congress of Vienna

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The Congress of Vienna , which took place from September 18, 1814 to June 9, 1815 , reorganized Europe after Napoleon Bonaparte's defeat in the coalition wars. After the political map of the continent had changed considerably in the aftermath of the French Revolution , the Congress again redefined numerous borders and created new states .

Under the leadership of the Austrian Foreign Minister Prince von Metternich , politically empowered representatives from around 200 European states, lordships, corporations and cities, including all of the major powers of Europe with the exception of the Ottoman Empire, provided advice . The leading role played Russia , the United Kingdom , Austria and Prussia and the restored kingdom of France and the Papal States . In view of their complexity and scope, the German questions were discussed separately from the other European affairs.

Prehistory and beginning

Tin medal 1814 with the busts of the monarchs and generals involved
Six inscriptions with details of the victories

After the fall of Napoleon in the spring of 1814, the First Peace of Paris ended the war between the powers of the Sixth Coalition and the French government, the restored Bourbon monarchy under Louis XVIII. According to Article 32 of this peace treaty, a congress should convene in Vienna in order to adopt a permanent European post-war order. All states involved in the war were invited.

The victorious kings and their leading ministers first met in London . In the autumn of 1814 the congress began in Vienna , to which delegations from almost all states and powers of Europe came. From September 1814 to June 1815, Vienna and above all the meeting place, the Foreign Ministry (later also the State Chancellery) in the Palais on Ballhausplatz, Metternich's official seat, became the political center of the continent. The host was Emperor Franz I of Austria .

The hosts tried to make the stay of the congress participants as pleasant as possible. The succession of social events, balls and other amusements prompted Prince Charles Joseph von Ligne to comment in a letter to the French statesman and diplomat Talleyrand dated November 1, 1814:

"I am credited with the word: 'Congress is dancing, but it is not moving forward.' Nothing seeps through but the sweat of these dancing gentlemen. I also think I said: 'This is a war congress, not a peace congress.' "

- Charles Joseph de Ligne

Other contemporaries were also impressed by the display, although they complained about the political immobility. The general secretary of the assembly Friedrich von Gentz wrote in a letter of September 27, 1814:

“The city of Vienna is currently a surprising sight; everything that Europe comprises of illustrious personalities is represented here in an excellent way. The Kaiser, the Empress and the Grand Duchesses of Russia, the King of Prussia and several princes of his house, the King of Denmark , the King and the Crown Prince of Bavaria , the King and the Crown Prince of Württemberg , the Duke and the Princes of the Princely Houses of Mecklenburg , Saxe-Weimar , Saxe-Coburg , Hesse , etc., half of the former imperial princes and imperial counts, finally the myriad of representatives of the great and small powers of Europe - all of this creates a movement and such a diversity of images and interests that only the extraordinary epoch in which we live could produce something similar. The political affairs on which this picture is based have not yet brought any real progress. "

Whether the Congress neglected its actual task - creating the framework for a lasting European peace order - or not, is still controversial today.

Marshal Blücher characterized the negotiations as follows:

"The congress is like a fair in a small town, where everyone drives their cattle to sell and trade."

The negotiations

Tsar Alexander I (painting by George Dawe , 1826)

The Congress of Vienna worked out its results in commissions, this was a novelty in terms of negotiation. There was a committee for Germans, one for European affairs, one for territorial issues, one for river navigation and one for the slave trade . There was never a formal general assembly, the results were usually recorded in bilateral agreements. The final act of the Congress ( Congress Act ) only bears the signatures of the eight main powers Austria, Spain, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia, Russia and Sweden (in this alphabetical order in French). The German Federal Act , the general provisions of which (Articles 1 to 11) are included in the Congress Act, was signed separately by the authorized representatives of the German states.

The main opponent of Metternich was Tsar Alexander I . In addition, the British envoy Castlereagh and the representative of the defeated France, Talleyrand, who had considerable influence under both the old and the new French regimes, played the most important roles. Prussia was represented by Karl August von Hardenberg and Wilhelm von Humboldt and was able to record considerable gains on land (especially in the Rhineland and towards Saxony) and expand its political position.

Principles and Conflicts of Interest

The often drawn picture of harmony does not exist: in fact, the conflicting interests of the (main) negotiating partners intensified significantly in the course of the congress.

The congress worked according to five overarching principles, some of which are, however, the historians' subsequent construction. In this context, the term legitimacy denotes the liquidation of the Napoleonic state system and the reinstatement of the old dynasties ( Bourbons , Guelphs , etc.). When Talleyrand of all people emphasized the principle of legitimacy, he was primarily concerned with recognizing France as a power with equal rights and thus overcoming the status of a loser in the war.

The principle of the restoration of pre-revolutionary political and social conditions also belongs in this context . The restoration should not go so far that all changes that have occurred since 1789 should be reversed, but all future revolutionary efforts should be put to a stop. This included not only the liberal, but also the national movements of the time.

To secure and implement this goal, the delegations relied on the one hand on strong monarchical authority internally and on the other hand on the intergovernmental solidarity of the countries externally.

There was agreement in the creation of a European equilibrium system to prevent future wars.

Goals of the Vienna Congress (scheme)

However, the practical implementation of the latter objective in particular initially collided with the various power-political interests. Metternich's goal, for example, was an Austrian-led Central Europe that would counterbalance the wing powers France and Russia. The main Russian goal, however, was to win most of Poland . The Tsar toyed with the idea of ​​making Poland a model of a constitutional state. The British ambassador, like Metternich, strove for a conservatively determined Europe and at the same time wanted to prevent a further expansion of Russia's power as far as possible. To protect its position as a great power, the French delegation also fought against unification efforts in Germany. Prussia, on the other hand, wanted to strengthen its own position through the acquisition of all of Saxony and a Prussian-Austrian hegemony in Germany. However, this was opposed by the interests of the smaller German states and Austria.

Poland, Saxony and new constellations

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

With all the solidarity of the monarchies, it looked at times as if the congress might end without result. The main reason was the conflict of interests between Austria, Prussia and Russia over Poland. In this diplomatic conflict, which took place on different levels, the participating states formed new alliances. Alexander I's plan to establish a Polish kingdom under Russian rule in the Duchy of Warsaw initially met with little approval. When in November 1814 the Prussian delegation on the instructions of Friedrich Wilhelm III. Supported the Russian position without reservation, an alliance between Great Britain and Austria was formed, which France also came closer to. The associated recognition of France as a great power, while at the same time the conflicting interests among the Allies came to a head, turned into a triumph of Talleyrand's negotiating skills at the turn of the year 1814/1815. The conflict shifted from Poland to the Saxon question. One also speaks of the Polish-Saxon question, since the King of Saxony was also Duke of Warsaw and thus head of state in the area that Alexander I was aiming for. The continued existence of Saxony as a state was more than uncertain due to the imprisonment of King Friedrich August I , whom the Allies accused of collaborating with Napoleon. The Wettin was only able to influence the discussions through intermediaries .

At times a war was in the air between the former allies, and Prussia was already beginning military preparations. On January 3, 1815, a secret agreement was reached between Great Britain, Austria and France against Prussia and Russia, which the Netherlands , Bavaria and Hanover also joined. This shattered the Prussian hopes that had been cherished since Friedrich II for a complete acquisition of the neighboring state of Saxony.

The persistent disagreements on territorial issues were resolved relatively easily in various committee meetings. The negotiations also continued when Napoleon Bonaparte returned from exile and restored his power in France in March 1815. The final act of Congress was signed nine days before Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo .

Territorial reorganization

The decisions about which state had to surrender which territories or which territories were assigned to it were based on preliminary work by a “statistical commission”. In this commission, experts, including geographers, economists and demographic statisticians, had worked carefully to estimate the respective "territorial value", which mainly included the size of the territory, its population and its profitability. In this way, territories, claims and concessions that were lost and won could be roughly offset against each other. Before the beginning of the Congress in the First Peace of Paris, the territory of France had been returned to the borders of 1792.

Austria and Luxembourg

Austria had to give up its former possessions on the Upper Rhine . Overall, Austria tended to withdraw from western Germany. In return, it received Galicia again (including the Tarnopol district ), while Krakow and the surrounding area became a republic of Krakow guaranteed by the three partitioning powers . Also Illyria fell back to Austria. With the possession of the former Republic of Venice and Lombardy , amalgamated in the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia , as well as the assignment of Tuscany to Archduke Ferdinand and the city of Parma to the Austrian wife of Napoleon Marie-Louise , the Habsburgs had an even stronger position in Northern Italy than before Revolution. Salzburg and the Innviertel were added to the north . Compared to the territorial gains made by Prussia and Russia, however, Austria's territorial growth appeared limited. In particular, the formerly Austrian Netherlands (from which Belgium would later emerge) were lost. These areas fell to the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was created . In personal union , the House of Orange-Nassau provided not only the King of the Netherlands, but also the Grand Duke of Luxembourg . Overall, Austria has “grown out” of Germany geographically, but has become a leading power politically in the German Confederation, which was also formed by the Congress of Vienna, while the opposite direction initially applies to Prussia.


Contrary to the original plans and expectations, Prussia did not receive all of Saxony , but only the northern part, which was partly added to the new province of Saxony . In return, it achieved considerable area growth in the resource-rich west and was able to establish the provinces of Jülich-Kleve-Berg , the Grand Duchy of Lower Rhine and Westphalia . In the east, Poznan and the city of Danzig were added again, but Prussia finally had to forego the acquisitions from the third and partly also from the second partition of Poland , which had already been lost in 1807 . At Bayern there were Ansbach and Bayreuth , to the Kingdom of Hanover Ostfriesland , Hildesheim , Goslar and the greater part of the lower Eichsfeld from and received Swedish Pomerania with Rügen by Denmark in exchange for the Duchy of Lauenburg . The allocation of the Rhineland and Westphalia to Prussia corresponded both to the objectives of Talleyrand , who represented France in Vienna, and to the wishes of Castlereagh , the British envoy, albeit for different reasons of foreign policy. While France expected that Prussia would not be able to anchor itself permanently in the Rhineland, so that the opportunity could be opened up to push the French western border back to the Rhine, the United Kingdom assumed that the militarily strong Prussia would be French Expansion efforts will effectively put a stop. With the acquisition of the Rhenish territories, Prussia became a protective wall against France, which was still striving for the Rhine border , which was also of great security policy importance for the Palatinate and Rheinhessen on the left bank of the Rhine . The protective wall function against France was later cultivated by the people, for example through the song Die Wacht am Rhein . Due to the expansion and division of its national territory into an eastern "Old Prussia" and a "New Prussia" in the west, Prussia was forced to grow into Germany and thus became the engine of economic and political unification. The historian Thomas Nipperdey even goes so far as to see this shift in focus as a preliminary decision on the later German unification process: "The relocation of Prussia to the Rhine is one of the most fundamental facts in German history, one of the foundations of the establishment of the Reich in 1866/1871."

Remaining German states

Bavaria, which with the Treaty of Ried succeeded in leaping from the alliance with Napoleon just in time , won most of Franconia in exchange for Tyrol, as well as the newly created left Rhine Palatinate with parts of the old Palatinate after difficult negotiations , but was able to achieve its territorial ambitions not quite realize. The Kingdom of Württemberg , the Grand Duchies of Baden and Hesse and the Duchy of Nassau were able to maintain their territories from the time of the Confederation of the Rhine ; only small border corrections were made until 1825.

The same person with the were rebuilt as sovereign states the UK affiliated former Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (now the Kingdom of Hanover applicable), Braunschweig , Oldenburg , Hesse-Kassel , Hesse-Homburg and the free cities Lübeck , Frankfurt , Bremen and Hamburg . The Kingdom of Saxony was on the losing side of the congress . As a punishment for its too late departure from the alliance with France - in the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig it had still fought on Napoleon's side - the kingdom lost around 60% of its area with around 40% of its inhabitants in the northern and eastern areas as well as in Thuringia to Prussia, which then ceded part of these Thuringian areas to the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach .

However , despite the protests of the princes concerned , the mediatization of the past few years was not reversed, nor was the secularization of the clerical territories . In this respect, the number of states remained significantly lower than in pre-revolutionary times.


Consequences of the Congress of Vienna for Switzerland

The Switzerland had the Valtellina , Chiavenna and Bormio and the city of Mulhouse finally give up in Alsace. As compensation, however, she was awarded the former duchy of Basel , the Fricktal , the dominions of Rhäzüns and Tarasp, as well as some communities in the vicinity of Geneva. The Congress of Vienna recognized the internal and external borders of Switzerland and its cantons as well as the affiliation of the Valais , the Principality of Neuchâtel ( Hohenzollern ) and Geneva as new cantons. Northern Savoy was neutralized and should be occupied by Swiss troops in the event of war, but remained with the Kingdom of Sardinia . The rounding of the borders against the Grand Duchy of Baden near Schaffhausen and the acquisition of the city of Constance as well as the return of the Valtellina, Chiavennas and Bormios to Graubünden could not be achieved. The recognition of perpetual armed neutrality and its independence from any foreign influence by the major European powers had a decisive influence on the further history of Switzerland to this day. This international recognition or commitment of Switzerland to neutrality still forms the decisive basis for Swiss foreign policy today (→ Swiss neutrality ).

Other European countries

Europe after the Congress of Vienna in 1815

The former enemy of the Allies, France, had to reverse the annexations carried out between 1795 and 1810, as was to be expected in view of the legitimacy principle advocated by Talleyrand himself. A great success, however, was the equal return to the European family of nations and recognition as a great power.

Denmark had to surrender Norway to Sweden because of its support for Napoleon (→ Peace of Kiel ). But it received Swedish-Pomeranian as compensation . These territories were quickly ceded to Prussia. As compensation, Denmark received the Duchy of Lauenburg (which Prussia had previously exchanged with Hanover for East Friesland ) and money.

The old dynasties were restored in Spain , Portugal and Naples . Likewise in Sardinia , which got back Savoy , Piedmont and Nice and also received Genoa . The Papal State was also restored and got a large part of its former territories back. Metternich had planned an Italian federation similar to the German Confederation under the presidency of Austria for the Italian states, but this idea could not prevail with Emperor Franz I and the Italian princes. With this and the considerable Austrian gains in Northern Italy, Italy remained fragmented and its unification as a nation-state was denied for decades.

Britain's acquisitions from the British-French colonial conflict have also been confirmed. Malta and Heligoland thus remained with Great Britain. The Ionian Islands in the Mediterranean came under British protectorate .

In the east, Tsar Alexander I accepted a fourth partition of Poland . However, Russia was given the largest part with the so-called Congress Poland , and it secured its previous expansion to the west by recognizing its territorial gains in Finland ( 1808/09 ) and Bessarabia .

The northern Netherlands (until 1795 Republic of the Seven United Provinces , later the Batavian Republic and Kingdom of Holland ) were united with the southern, formerly Habsburg-Austrian Netherlands and the former bishopric of Liège in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands .

The German Confederation

The basis for the negotiations on a state reorganization of the countries of the former Holy Roman Empire (German Nation) during the Congress of Vienna was Article VI of the First Paris Peace of May 30, 1814. There, the German states became independent and united through a federal one Band assured.

The committee for the deliberations of German affairs, the so-called "German Committee", met under the chairmanship of Prussia, Austria, Hanover, Bavaria and Württemberg. As a result, the committee opened up to all German states and free cities. Even if the Congress championed the principle of legitimacy and aimed at restoring pre-revolutionary conditions, these principles also had their limits. The mediatization initiated with the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss 1803 was not reversed. The same applies to secularization and the end of the spiritual states, for the restoration of which the papal envoy Ercole Consalvi worked in vain. The sovereignty of the former Confederation of the Rhine was also recognized.

Karl August von Hardenberg

A reconstruction of the Holy Roman Empire was not seriously considered by the congress participants, not even by Freiherr vom Stein , who participated in the congress as Russian envoy and advocated the restoration of the imperial dignity. Nevertheless, the search for a functional replacement for the 41 German states and free cities became one of the central questions of the congress.

At the beginning of the negotiations, both Metternich and the Prussian ambassadors assumed a comparatively strongly centralized solution. Although numerous suggestions were circulated, only Hardenberg's “41 Articles” and the “12-point plan” that emerged from them in collaboration with Metternich were influential. Both assumed an essentially federal order with strong central organs. This included a collective executive , the "Council of District Colonels", made up of representatives from the larger states. This body should be designed in such a way that Prussia and Austria could dominate the other states. The federal territory should be divided into seven districts, which should be responsible for the implementation of federal decrees and for the war and last-instance judiciary. This would have de facto mediatized the small territories that still existed de jure . This project failed not so much because of the violent resistance of the small states, but because of the Saxon-Polish conflict described above. The expansionist efforts of Prussia, which became evident there, led on the Austrian side to abandon the plan to strive for a double hegemony between the two states.

Finally, the loose German Confederation of Sovereign States with Austria as the presidential power was created. The German Federal Act was adopted as a constitution on June 8, 1815, one day before the Vienna Congress Act was signed. The first eleven articles of the Federal Act were included in the Vienna Congress Act and thus allegedly placed under the protection or guarantee of the signatory powers . A strong executive as well as a supreme federal court were given up. From the original considerations, the stipulation that every federal state must give itself a state constitution was retained . A number of countries quickly complied with this request. But of all things, the two great powers within the German Confederation, Prussia and Austria, did not have a written constitution until 1848.

It was expressly declared that the German Confederation was not the legal successor to the old German Empire. It was also emphasized that the federal government was of a purely defensive nature and only served the external and internal security of Germany. The German Confederation thus became a necessary part of the system of European equilibrium, even if a common active foreign policy was impossible.

Prussia and Austria only belonged to the German Confederation with their former imperial states. That means Austria without the Polish, Hungarian, Southeast European and Italian territories, Prussia without West and East Prussia and Posen. As foreign monarchs, the King of Great Britain as King of Hanover, the King of the Netherlands as Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the King of Denmark as Duke of Holstein and Lauenburg were federal princes with a seat and vote in the Federal Assembly .

Prohibition of the slave trade

Under British pressure, Article 118 of the Act of Congress established the prohibition of the slave trade ("The Declaration of the Powers on the Abolition of the Negro Trade, February 8, 1815"). The Convention waived a specific implementation date. With the resolution of the great European powers, the end of one of the oldest and most inhuman branches of business in history was initiated. It was a few more decades before the last countries abandoned the slave trade. After the USA in 1865, Brazil became the last state in the New World to abolish slavery in 1888.

Signature and ratification

"Palais am Ballhausplatz", conference building of the Congress of Vienna (today Federal Chancellery )
The original document in the Austrian State Archives

The resolutions of the Congress were set out in writing in the Vienna Congress Act, also called the Final Act of the Vienna Congress (Acte final) . It comprised 121 articles and also contained all contracts concluded in Vienna.

On June 9, 1815, the Act of Congress was signed. The signatory powers Austria, Russia, Prussia, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Spain and Sweden thus guaranteed the ratification of the resolutions.

However, Baden only joined the treaty on July 26th and Württemberg on September 1st, 1815. France under Louis XVIII. confirmed the treaty on December 7th, 1815. Even the signatory state Spain, which was dissatisfied that the son of the Queen of Etruria had not received any compensation in Italy, only joined this agreement on May 7th, 1817.

The Holy Alliance

The establishment of the Holy Alliance, which was concluded on September 26, 1815, was not part of the official negotiation results of the congress, but its content is closely related to it and forms a decisive part of the Metternich system that emerged in 1815 in the first half 19th century. The Holy Alliance initially included Prussia, Austria and Russia. This manifesto of the three monarchs called for Christian brotherhood and was thus in direct contrast to the revolutionary brotherhood of the peoples. Metternich, who was extremely skeptical of this alliance, turned the original draft, which spoke of an alliance of “peoples and armies”, into an “alliance of rulers” in its final version, who would stand above “peoples and armies”. The aim of the agreement was on the one hand to maintain the balance between the princes and on the other hand to intervene among the peoples in the case of revolutionary movements. The Holy Alliance came out of the UK (there refused to Parliament a candidate) and the restored by Congress Papal States under Pope Pius VII. , Who rejected the interdenominational concept, almost all European states at.

Conclusion and consequences

Results of the Congress of Vienna (scheme)

For the conditions of the time, especially at the supranational level, the Vienna Congress had passed resolutions that were definitely forward-looking. Under British pressure, for example, slavery was outlawed in Article 118 of the Act of Congress. In addition, an agreement on the freedom of international river navigation was reached and a central commission for navigation on the Rhine was set up. A binding regulation of the Legation Law put an end to the disputes of rank among diplomats that had been common up to now. The one who represented the supposedly most respected state no longer had priority (because the question of which state had this dignity had always sparked the quarrel). The Vienna Convention certain that messengers deserves the first rank, the Messenger the second, business supports the third. Within these categories, priority is given to the diplomat who has been accredited or on duty at the place of employment for a longer period (principle of “local anciency ”). This regulation still applies today.

The congress had achieved its main goal of undoing the conquests of revolutionary and Napoleonic France. At the expense of France and the renewed partition of Poland, the great powers Prussia, Austria and Russia were strengthened. The equilibrium system of the pentarchy emerged together with Great Britain and the defeated France, who was again accepted into the concert of the great powers .

After the previous decades of coalition wars , one of the main goals of the Congress of Vienna was to give the broken continent a new order while avoiding interstate violence and resolving possible future conflicts diplomatically. This meant a historically new political quality. Until the Crimean War in the early 1850s, Europe was spared wars between the great powers. The Sardinian War , the Italian Wars of Independence and the Schleswig-Holstein Uprising were related to the revolutions of 1848/49 . However, the conflict over Poland and Saxony had shown in the course of the congress that the policy of compromise also had its limits.

As far as the shaping of internal state conditions is concerned, the congress was shaped more by restorative principles and a fundamental skepticism towards all revolutionary, liberal and national aspirations. For the German states, the creation of the German Confederation was the central result of the congress. In the eyes of many contemporaries, however, the German Confederation was primarily an instrument for suppressing national and liberal movements. However, it did not succeed in switching off the liberal bourgeois movements. These demanded the nation state instead of an alliance of monarchical individual states.

The calm that was imposed in Europe by the Congress of Vienna, which was basically a return to the conditions before Napoleon and the French Revolution of 1789, was not sustainable in the long term without changes. The restoration that followed the congress, the suppression of national, liberal and democratic aspirations, could not prevent the ideas of civil rights and national independence from spreading among the bourgeoisie .

The year 1830 in particular was a turning point in this regard:

  • In 1830 the Greek Revolution ended with the independence of Greece and the establishment of a nation state based on the constitution of 1824.
  • Belgium's independence from the Netherlands , proclaimed in 1830 , inevitably raised questions of power politics. The establishment of a new state in the middle of Europe and the defection of an established ruling house fundamentally violated the principles of the Congress of Vienna. The great European powers of 1815 had launched the United Kingdom of the Netherlands as a buffer against future French expansionist aspirations. The secession of Belgium seemed to endanger the foreign policy security of Great Britain and Prussia. Paris, which had only just had the July Revolution behind it, was initially not interested in any foreign policy adventure. Louis Philippe I therefore gave priority to domestic political consolidation and left the government in London with diplomatic leadership in the Belgian matter. On November 4, 1830, a conference of the great European powers took place under the leadership of the British Foreign Minister . This put an end to the fighting between Belgian and Dutch units in December 1830. In January of the following year, Belgian sovereignty was recognized and Brussels committed to strict neutrality in foreign policy. The Belgian constitution became a model for the German liberals.
  • The Poles never accepted the division of their country between Russia, Austria and Prussia. In the Polish provinces of these three states there were repeated national uprisings against the respective foreign rule. The November uprising in 1830 was particularly popular - also with the liberal and national movements abroad .
  • In France, the liberal July Revolution took place in 1830 , which led to the overthrow of the Bourbon king Charles X , who was appointed in 1824, and the appointment of the citizen king Louis Philippe to the French throne. This revolution also had an impact on neighboring states. Regional uprisings in some German states and in Italian regions in the wake of the July Revolution occasionally led to constitutions in individual principalities.
In France, Louis Philippe was overthrown 18 years later in the February Revolution of 1848 after he had increasingly drawn closer to the policy of the Holy Alliance . After his flight into British exile, the Second Republic was proclaimed in France in 1848 .
  • In the states of the German Confederation, despite massive repression (see also the Karlsbad Resolutions ) and censorship measures, a liberal and national movement grew up, in which the fraternities formed from 1815 played an essential part and which finally in the March Revolution of 1848 to overcome the system introduced by Metternich led.

Despite the suppression of the March Revolution in 1849, the idea of ​​an all-German state established itself in conservative circles. Following the German-Danish War in 1864 and the German War in 1866, the constitution of the North German Confederation in 1867 became the first federal state to encompass the German states north of the Main line . After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871, the German Empire under Prussian leadership was proclaimed as the Little German Solution (i.e. without Austria) in 1871 .

In the Italian states and provinces from 1815 to 1870, various Risorgimento (German: resurrection) uprisings flared up with the aim of unifying Italy, which was finally fought for in wars against Austria between 1861 and 1870 (→ Italian Wars of Independence ). The Italian national revolutionaries rebelled against the domination of the Austrian Habsburgs in northern Italy and the Spanish Bourbons in southern Italy .

In Switzerland the restoration followed with the federal treaty by the powers interested in the existence of Switzerland. This very simple Basic Law was to form the constitutional basis of the Swiss Confederation until 1847 .

Delegations and important participants

Signatory states to the Treaty of Paris (8 states)

France (15 people)
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand - Emmerich Joseph Wolfgang Heribert Freiherr von Dalberg - Jean-Baptiste de Gouey La Besnardière - Frédéric Séraphin Baron de La Tour du Pin-Gouvernet
Great Britain (25 people)
Robert Stewart Viscount Castlereagh - Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington - Richard Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty - Charles Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry - William Cathcart, 1st Earl Cathcart - Stratford Canning, 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe
Klemens Wenzel Prince von Metternich - Friedrich von Gentz - Johann Philipp Freiherr von Wessenberg-Ampringen - Nikolaus von Wacken (Councilor and Austrian Congress Secretary, "Conceptionist") - Franz Binder von Krieglstein - Josef von Hudelist (Metternich's representative during his long absence) - Joseph Pilat (Metternich's private secretary and editor of the Austrian observer ) - Friedrich Schlegel
Portugal (4 people)
Pedro de Sousa Holstein - António de Saldanha da Gama
Prussia (46 people)
Prince Karl August von Hardenberg - Wilhelm von Humboldt - Karl August Varnhagen von Ense - Friedrich August von Staegemann - Karl Friedrich von dem Knesebeck
Russia (53 people)
Karl Robert Graf von Nesselrode - Ioannis Kapodistrias - Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom Stein - Gustav Ernst von Stackelberg - Andrei Kirillowitsch Rasumowski
Sweden (3 people)
Carl Axel Löwenhielm
Spain (5 people)
Pedro Gómez Labrador

Princes, Free Cities and Sovereign States of Germany (33 States)

Anhalt (4 people)
Bathing (11 people)
Wilhelm Ludwig Leopold Reinhard Freiherr von Berstett
Bavaria (34 people)
Karl Philipp Fürst von Wrede until Napoleon's return from Elba in 1815, then Aloys Graf von Rechberg
Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (5 people)
Free City of Bremen (1 person)
Johann Smidt achieved the preservation of the independence of the Hanseatic cities and their inclusion in the German Confederation.
Free City of Frankfurt am Main (2 people)
Free City of Hamburg (2 people)
Hanover (4 people)
Ernst Graf von Munster - Ernst von Hardenberg
Hessen-Darmstadt (6 people)
Hessen-Kassel (8 people)
Hohenzollern-Hechingen (4 people)
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (2 people)
Holstein-Oldenburg (10 people)
Free City of Lübeck (1 person)
Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1 person)
Leopold von Plessen (important negotiator of the small German states)
Mecklenburg-Strelitz (3 people)
Adolf Horn
Nassau (7 people)
Reuss-Ebersdorf (3 people)
Reuss-Greiz (4 people)
Reuss-Schleiz (4 people)
Saxony (9 people)
Detlev von Einsiedel - Friedrich Albrecht von der Schulenburg
Saxony-Coburg-Saalfeld (7 people)
Saxony-Gotha (2 people)
Saxony-Hildburghausen (2 people)
Saxony-Meiningen (2 people)
Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach (17 people)
Schaumburg-Lippe (3 people)
Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt (1 person)
Schwarzburg-Sondershausen (1 person)
Württemberg (22 people)
Georg Ernst Levin Count of Wintzingerode

Non-German sovereign or formerly sovereign states (12 states)

Denmark (17 people)
Friedrich Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck - Niels Rosenkrantz
Genoa (1 person)
Papal States (4 people)
Ercole Consalvi
Massa and Carrara
Naples (4 people)
Netherlands (7 people)
Hans Christoph Ernst von Gagern - Gerrit Karel Spaen van Voorstonden
Sardinia (3 people)
Switzerland, delegation of the assembly (3 people)
Hans von Reinhard - Johann Heinrich Wieland - Johann von Montenach
Switzerland, delegation of the cantons (9 people)
Charles Pictet de Rochemont
Sicily (12 people)
Tuscany (1 person)

Mediatized imperial nobility (67)

Nobility from Swabia, Franconia, Rhine and Upper Rhine ; Arenberg ; Aspremont-Lynden ; Bassenheim ; Bentheim-Steinfurt ; Bentheim-Rheda ; Bentinck ; Boemelberg ; Castell ; Colloredo-Mansfeld ; Croy ; German Order of Knights ; Dietrichstein ; Erbach ; Food and thorn ; Friedberg ; Fugger ; Fürstenberg ; Goertz ; Hessen-Homburg ; Hessen-Rheinfels-Rotenburg ; Hohenlohe ; Hohenlohe-Langenburg-Kirchberg ; Prince of Isenburg ; Count of Isenburg ; Khevenhüller-Metsch ; Königsegg-Aulendorf ; Leiningen ; Leiningen-Billigheim ; Leiningen-Neudenau ; Leiningen-Westerburg ; von der Leyen ; Lobkowitz ; Looz-Corswarem ; Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg ; Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rochefort ; Metternich-Winneburg-Ochsenhausen ; Oettingen-Wallerstein ; Ortenburg ; Quadt ; More right ; Rheingrafen ; Salm-Horstmar ; Salm-Kyrburg ; Salm-Reifferscheidt-Dyck ; Salm-Reifferscheidt-Krautheim ; Salm-Salm ; Schaesberg ; Slot ; Schönborn-Wiesentheid ; Schönburg-Waldenburg ; Schwarzenberg ; Sinzendorf ; Solms-Braunfels ; Solms-Laubach ; Stadium Thannhausen ; Stolberg ; Thurn and Taxis ; Toerring-Gutenzell ; Truchsess from Waldburg-Wolfegg-Waldsee ; Truchsess from Waldburg-Zeil-Zeil-Trauchburg ; Wartenberg red ; Wied-Neuwied ; Wied-Runkel ; Windisch-Graetz ; Wittgenstein-Berleburg ; Wittgenstein-Wittgenstein

Delegations with particular interests (28)

Principality of Basel ; Principality of Porrentruy ; Prince Abbey of St. Gallen ; German Catholics ; Frankfurt Catholics ; Royal Prussian Order of St. John from the hospital in Jerusalem ; City of Bergamo ; City of Biel ; City of Como ; City of Cremona ; City of Gdansk ; City of Kreuznach ; City of Milan
City of Mainz (2 people)
Franz von Kesselstatt , Heinrich von Mappes
Bremen Jews ; Frankfurt Jews ; Hamburg Jews ; Lübeck Jews ; German booksellers ; East Frisian landscape ; Citizen of Solms-Braunfels ; Duchy of Bouillon ; Former Count of Bormio (Worms) ; Former Duke of Piombino ; Former Prince of Elba ; Former Queen of Etruria ; Officials of the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt


The complete documents of the Vienna Congress were published in the years 1815 to 1835 by Johann Ludwig Klüber under the title Acten des Wiener Congresses in the years 1814 and 1815 in nine volumes by the publishing house JJ Palm and Ernst Enke in Erlangen. The first eight volumes appeared between 1815 and 1818, supplements as the ninth volume in 1835. The volumes contain - a selection - as the most important files (with the digital copies of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek for volumes 1 to 8):


  • Alexandra Bleyer : The Metternich system. The reorganization of Europe after Napoleon. WBG, Darmstadt 2014, ISBN 978-3-86312-081-8 .
  • Manfred Botzenhart : Reform, Restoration and Crisis. Germany 1789–1847. Modern German History (MDG). Edited by Hans-Ulrich Wehler. Volume 4 (= Edition Suhrkamp: 1252 = NF, Volume 252: New historical library), 4th edition, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1996, ISBN 3-518-11252-X , pp. 80–85.
  • Manfred Botzenhart: The Congress of Vienna. Resignation into private life. Stein and the class aspirations of the Westphalian nobility (June 1814 – December 1818). In: Manfred Botzenhart (ed.): Freiherr [Heinrich Friedrich Karl] from [and to] Stein: Letters and official writings. Volume 1–8, Stuttgart 1957–1970, Volume 5, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1965.
  • Peter Burg : The Vienna Congress: the German Confederation in the European State System (=  German vol. 4501). Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-423-04501-9 .
  • Anselm Doering-Manteuffel : From the Vienna Congress to the Paris Conference (=  publications of the German Historical Institute London. Vol. 28). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1991, ISBN 3-525-36313-3 (also: Erlangen-Nürnberg, Universität, habilitation paper, 1986).
  • Hans-Dieter Dyroff (Ed.): The Vienna Congress - The new order of Europe. dtv documents, Munich 1966.
  • Heinz Duchhardt : The Congress of Vienna. The redesign of Europe in 1814/15. Beck, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-65381-0 .
  • Elisabeth Fehrenbach : From the Ancien Régime to the Congress of Vienna. Oldenbourg, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-486-49754-5 .
  • Wolf D. Gruner: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15. Reclam. Stuttgart 2014. ISBN 978-3-15-019252-8 .
  • Wolf D. Gruner: The German Confederation 1815-1866. Beck, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-58795-5 .
  • Michael Hundt: The less powerful German states at the Congress of Vienna. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1996, ISBN 3-8053-1720-4 .
  • Michael Hundt (Hrsg.): Sources on the constitutional politics of small states at the Vienna Congress ß. Chandler. Hamburg 1996. ISBN 3-89622-003-9 .
  • Agnes Husslein-Arco, Sabine Grabner, Werner Telesko (eds.): Europe in Vienna. The Congress of Vienna 1814/15. Hirmer, Munich 2015. ISBN 978-3-7774-2323-4 .
  • Alexandra von Ilsemann: The politics of France at the Congress of Vienna. Reinhold Krämer Verlag, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-89622-005-5 .
  • Thomas Just, Wolfgang Maderthaner, Helene Maimann (ed.): The Vienna Congress. The invention of Europe. Gerold, Vienna 2014, ISBN 978-3-900812-52-2 .
  • David King: Vienna 1814. About emperors, kings and the congress that reinvented Europe. Piper, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-492-05675-5 .
  • Henry A. Kissinger : The Balance of the Great Powers. Manesse Verlag, Zurich 1990, ISBN 3-7175-8062-0 .
  • Enno E. Kraehe: Metternich's German Policy. Volume 2: The Congress of Vienna 1814-1815 . Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey 1983. ISBN 0-691-05186-0 .
  • Dieter Langewiesche : Europe between restoration and revolution (=  Oldenbourg outline of history . Volume 13). 5th edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-49765-6 .
  • Thierry Lentz : 1815. The Congress of Vienna and the re-establishment of Europe. Translated from the French by Frank Sievers. Siedler, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-8275-0047-2 .
  • Hazel Rosenstrauch : Congress with ladies. Europe visits Vienna 1814/1815. Czernin, Vienna 2014, ISBN 978-3-7076-0506-8 .
  • Reinhard Stauber : The Congress of Vienna. Böhlau, Vienna a. a. 2014, ISBN 978-3-8252-4095-0 .
  • Reinhard Stauber, Florian Kerschbaumer, Marion Koschier (Eds.): Power politics and peacekeeping. On the political culture of Europe under the sign of the Congress of Vienna. Lit, Münster u. a. 2014, ISBN 978-3-643-50502-6 .
  • Eberhard Straub : The Congress of Vienna. The great festival and the reorganization of Europe. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3608948479 .
  • Brian Vick: The Congress of Vienna. Power and Politics after Napoleon. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.) 2014, ISBN 978-0-674-72971-1 .
  • Eckardt Treichel (edit.): Sources for the history of the German Confederation. Division I: 1813-1830 . Oldenbourg De Gruyter, Volume 1: The emergence of the German Confederation 1813–1815. 2 volumes, Munich 2000, ISBN 978-3-486-56417-4 .
  • Eckart Treichel (edit.): Sources for the history of the German Confederation. Division I: 1815-1830 . Oldenbourg De Gruyter. Vol. 2: Organization and internal structure of the German Confederation 1815-1819 . Munich 2016. ISBN 978-3-486-56702-1 , eISBN (PDF) 978-3-486-99224-3.
  • Sir Charles Webster: The Congress of Vienna 1814-1815 . Thames and Hudson, London 1963.
  • Manfred Wilde , Hans Seehase (Ed.): Under new rule. Consequences of the Congress of Vienna in 1815 (=  Studies on the German Regional Church History , Volume 10). Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 2016, ISBN 978-3-96023-007-6 .
  • Adam Zamoyski : 1815. Napoleon's fall and the Congress of Vienna. Beck, Munich 2014, translated by Ruth Keen and Erhard Stölting, ISBN 978-3-406-67123-4 .

Collective discussion of several current publications on the Vienna Congress at H-Soz-Kult .

Web links

Commons : Congress of Vienna  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Congress of Vienna  - Sources and full texts


  1. Quoted from Gerhard Geißler: European documents from five centuries. Leipzig 1939, p. 441, cf. Georg Büchmann : Winged words. The treasure trove of quotations of the German people. Haude & Spener'sche Buchhandlung (F. Weidling), Berlin 1898.
  2. Quoted from Manfred Görtemaker: Germany in the 19th century. Lines of development. 3rd, revised edition, Opladen 1989, p. 69.
  3. ^ Braubach: From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna. 1974, p. 151 answered the question in the negative
  4. Quoted from Franz Mehring: 1813 to 1819. From Kalisch to Karlsbad. Stuttgart 1913, p. 72.
  5. ^ Acts of the Vienna Congress. Volume 6, pp. 12-96.
  6. The emphasized principles and the Prussian objectives follow: Siemann: Vom Staatsbund zum Nationstaat. 1995, pp. 314-320.
  7. ^ Heinz Duchhardt: The Congress of Vienna. Munich 2013, p. 87.
  8. The presentation of the negotiations essentially follows (currently) Braubach: From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna. 1974, pp. 151-158.
  9. ^ Heinz Duchhardt: The Congress of Vienna. The redesign of Europe in 1814/15. C. H. Beck, Munich 2013, p. 90.
  10. ^ Alfred Oppenhoff: The Prussians came 175 years ago. The emergence of the Prussian Rhine Province, its administrative districts and districts . In: Home yearbook of the Ahrweiler district . 1991, p. 98 ( digitized version )
  11. Nipperdey, quoted from Siemann: From the Confederation of States to the Nation State. 1995, p. 314.
  12. Contrary to all contemporary calculations of the raison d'état, the king declared that he would keep his promise as usual.
  13. ^ Congress of Vienna: When Switzerland was rebuilt ; in Neue Zürcher Zeitung from August 12, 2015
  14. 200 years of the Congress of Vienna: The concert of the great ; in Neue Zürcher Zeitung from March 21, 2014
  15. Franz Zeilner: Constitution, constitutional law and teaching of public law in Austria until 1848. Peter Lang, Frankfurt 2008, p. 45.
  16. ^ On territorial development in Germany and Europe: Botzenhart: Reform, Restoration and Crisis. 1996, pp. 79-82.
  17. Walter Hubatsch (arrangement): Freiherr vom Stein. Letters and official documents. Volume 5: The Congress of Vienna. W. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 1964, pp. 274-276. See also Heinz Duchhardt: Stein. A biography. Aschendorff Verlag, Münster 2007, ISBN 978-3-402-05365-2 , p. 338 f.
  18. So affirmative, but without evidence, Siemann: Vom Staatsbund zum Nationstaat. 1995, p. 320. On the other hand, after detailed discussion of the principles of international law, Nikolaus Dommermuth rejects this: The alleged European guarantee law over the German Confederation 1815 to 1866. Borna-Leipzig 1928.
  19. Federal Act Article 13: "In all federal states a state constitution will take place."
  20. See Siemann: From the Confederation of States to the Nation State. 1995, p. 319 f.
  21. On February 8, 1815, the slave trade was abolished at the Congress of Vienna - slavery continued. To: TU Graz - Graz University of Technology
  22. ^ (1) Treaty between Austria and Russia on the settlement of Polish affairs of May 3, 1815 (41 articles); (2) Supplementary Treaty between Prussia and Russia on the settlement of Polish affairs of May 3, 1815 (43 articles); (3) Supplementary Treaty between Russia, Prussia and Austria on Krakow of May 3, 1815 (22 articles); (4) Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Prussia and Saxony of May 18, 1815 (25 articles); (5) Declaration by the King of Saxony on the protection of the rights of the House of Schönburg of May 18, 1815 supplemented by a declaration by the Five Powers of May 29, 1815; (6) Assignment and Compensation Agreement between Prussia and Hanover of May 29, 1815 (13 articles); (7) Convention between Prussia and Saxe-Weimar of June 1, 1815; (8) Convention between Prussia and the Dukes and Princes of Nassau of May 31, 1815; (9) Final Act for the Establishment of a German Confederation, predated June 8, 1815 (20 articles); (10) Treaty between the Netherlands and Prussia, England, Austria and Russia of May 31, 1815 on the creation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the personal sovereignty of the Prince of Orange over Luxembourg (10 articles); (11) Declaration of the Powers on the Affairs of the Swiss Confederation (Confédération Helvétique) of March 20, 1815 (10 articles) and Act of Accession to the Diet (diète) of May 27, 1815 (3 articles); (12) Protocol of March 29, 1815 on the cession of the King of Sardinia to the Canton of Geneva (6 articles); (13) Treaty between Sardinia, Austria, England, Russia, Prussia and France of May 20, 1815 on the creation of the territory over which Victor Emmanuel I is to rule (10 articles); (14) Act named: "Conditions for the annexation of the States of Genoa to those of His Sardinian Majesty" approved on December 17, 1814 by the Genoese delegates; (15) Declaration by the Powers on the abolition of the negro trade (traite des nègres) of February 8, 1815; (16) Regulation on free navigation (9 articles); (17) Regulation on the priority of diplomats (7 articles).
  23. See Siemann: From the Confederation of States to the Nation State. 1995, p. 330 f.
  24. ^ Paul Widmer : The concert of the great. The Congress of Vienna, diplomacy and the reshaping of Europe two hundred years ago. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, March 22, 2014, p. 63.
  25. On the point of view of contemporaries, for example: Botzenhart: Reform, Restoration and Crisis. 1996, p. 84.
  26. ^ Richard J. Evans: The European Century. A continent in upheaval 1815–1914. DVA, Munich 2018, p. 116.
  27. ^ Heinrich August Winkler: History of the West. From the beginnings in antiquity to the 20th century . 2nd edition, Beck, Munich 2010, p. 516.
  28. See Fritz Apian-Bennewitz: Leopold von Plessen and the constitutional policy of the small German states at the Congress of Vienna 1814/15. Dissertation . Eutin 1930, DNB 571938906 .
  29. The former Principality of Basel was represented by three delegations. On the one hand with a delegation (Melchior Delfils and Baron Conrad de Billieux) who tried either to rebuild the prince-bishopric or to found a canton of Porrentruy in Switzerland. Second, a delegation from the French party of the Principality of Porrentruy (Sigismond Moreau) with the vague goal of forming a canton of the Principality of Basel in Switzerland. Thirdly, a delegation from the city of Biel (Friedrich Heilmann) who tried to establish a canton of Biel (with Erguel and La Neuveville) in Switzerland. All of these efforts were not coordinated; the delegations intrigued against each other. Ultimately, they were all unsuccessful; the former bishopric of Basel was added to the canton of Bern to compensate it for its losses in Vaud and Aargau. Cf. Paul-Otto Bessire, Histoire du Jura bernois et de l'ancien Evêché de Bâle, Moutier 1977, 238.
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on October 7, 2006 .