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The Congress of Vienna was a gathering of representatives of European kingdoms that was presided over by the Austrian Chancellor Klemens Von Metternich. The Congress was held in Vienna from 1814 to 1815. The goals of the Congress were to secure peace and stability in Europe and to ensure that revolutions did not destabilize the Continent, as they had in the previous 25 years. The Congress was initially able to establish an international system to prevent a general war, for several decades. However, it was to lay the ground for future wars in Europe, as it ignored the rise of nationalism among the peoples of Germany, Italy, Poland and others.
From 1789 until the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Europe was devastated by war and revolution. After the French Revolution, in 1789, the great powers in Europe, including Prussia, Austria and Britain had tried to destroy the new Revolutionary government in Paris.<ref>Zamoyski, Adam (2007). ''Rites of Peace; the Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna''. HarperCollins Publishers. p. 257</ref>The Monarchs of Europe believed that the French Revolution with its democratic and republican values was a threat to their power. They formed a coalition and they jointly invaded France. The French Revolutionaries fought off the invasion and even went on the offensive.<ref>Zamoyski, p. 234.</ref>
The French Revolutionary government was unstable and eventually Napoleon made himself first leader of the government and in 1801, Emperor of the French. Napoleon, one of the most brilliant military strategists of all time, conquered most of Europe by 1805. However, by, 1814, Napoleon had suffered a series of defeats and had been forced to abdicate. He did make a brief return to power in Paris but was quickly defeated by the coalition at Waterloo in 1915. Those who gathered at the Congress of Vienna had experienced a generation of conflict and revolution. They were determined to ensure that France or any revolutionary government would drag Europe into war again. The Congress was also very committed to ensuring that the coalition of kingdoms that had defeated Revolutionary France and Napoleon, remained allies and did not become enemies. There were long standing tensions between all the kingdoms over border disputes and it was feared that the allies could turn on each other to secure territories.<ref> Zamyoski, p. 78.</ref>