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>
[[File:Congress_of_Vienna_1815.jpg|thumbnail|A meeting of diplomats at the Congress of Vienna in 1815]]
==Proceedings of the Congress==
The Congress was attended by all the kingdoms who had fought together in the coalition. It was a particular challenge for the Austrian Chancellor to organize the Congress.<ref> Chapman, Tim (1998). ''The Congress of Vienna 1814-1815''. London: Routledge, p. 56. </ref> The four main powers, Prussia, Russia, Austria and Great Britain were to dictate the future of Europe and they had the power to re-draw borders and transfer territories.<ref>Chapman, p. 157.</ref> Eight other kingdoms were expected to take little or no part in the Congress and merely to agree to the demands of the four major powers. In 1815, France send a representative to negotiate on behalf of the recently restored French king’s behalf. The French representative was the willy Charles de Talleyrand. He was a very skilful diplomat and negotiator and was eventually able to secure the right of France to join the ‘four great powers’ and helped to reshape the map of Europe. The participants agreed a number of treaties on some of the outstanding issues facing them and these were all gathered together in the Final Act (1815). This series of documents was to determine the map of Europe for the next forty years.