Posts Tagged ‘aix la chapelle


European History Pt. 50 — The Conservative International System

Last time I looked at the aftermath of Vienna. Basically, agitation began immediately. Napoleon had tried to impose a revolutionary changes to government from above, but now there were movements from below to reform and change the way that power was distributed. For example, last time we saw that England, which had been EXEMPTED from Napoleon’s rule, was not especially due for changes, and the working class along with even certain business leaders wanted to reform the voting system and corn laws.

Now I want to look at the way in which the signatories to Vienna worked largely cooperatively to manage a series of revolutionary attempts throughout Europe.

Aix-la-Chapelle 1918

At this conference, the victorious powers over Napoleon agreed to withdraw their occupying troops from France. They wanted the new Bourbon monarch, XVIII to stand on his own. France’s reparation debt was privatized. The allies were paid immediately and France paid back the private bankers over time.

Alexander proposed a kind of league of nations whereby a standing international force would act to guarantee the international order (read: status quo). The British, like the U.S. today, refused to commit themselves to unforeseen situations. They promised only to make alliances for specific scenarios (like a resurgent France).

Troppau 1820

At the congress of Troppau, the main issue was the agitation in souther Europe, such as in Italy (Naples) and Spain. At first, these countries accepted Napoleonic rule as progressive, but then they went their own way and created new constitutions that were then forced on the Bourbon rulers that were installed after the war. The funny thing was that the regimes in Spain and Naples were so decrepit and corrupt that the “revolutionaries” were nothing more than average, probably somewhat prosperous, citizens.

Metternich, ever on the watch against change, was scared. He thought the rest of Europe should be quarantined from the revolutions. He called the congress of Troppau, to which Britain and France only sent observers. There, at Troppau, something extraordinary happened. Metternich met privately with Alexander at an inn and had tea. Metternich convinced Alexander to change his entire political philosophy. After this meeting, Alexander admitted that the was wrong about constitutionalism and popular sovereignty and that he would join Metternich’s crusade for stability and against political agitation.

The “Troppau Protocol” was drawn up which declared the need for European great powers to band together against revolution. Neither France nor Great Britain signed, but Neapolitans were put to the sword anyway and Ferdinand I was restored as “absolute” king. The book says it well, “…the Congress of Troppau, ostensibly a Europewide international body, had in effect functioned as an antirevolutionary alliance of Austria, Russia, and Prussia.” Yes.

Congress of Verona 1922

In 1821, a Greek man named Alexander Ypsilanti, a former Russian soldier, initiated a series of revolutionary acts in order to separate a Greek part of the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire. He thought he would receive help from Russia since a Grecophile conversion of the Ottoman empire had been a long time Russian project. Metternich was scared of what a pro Russia Greece (and more) would mean.

Alexander, who going by pure self interest should have supported Ypsilanti, joined Metternich in quashing the uprising. 

Also very interesting was that France, growing weary of spies and revolutionaries on its western border, asked permission to lead an army into Spain. Of course, those at the congress eagerly agreed. Spain was reconquered and the French army was greeted with cheering crowds. This was a sad development because Spanish liberals could only watch as the general populace supported a completely counterrevolutionary, foreign army reinstall the king and crush “heretics” and “masons.” Spain’s essential conservatism was utterly confirmed.