although the Vienna conference restored the Bourbon Dynasty, this period is not so much a retrogression of the historical process as the beginning of modern history. After the Metternich era, the concept of “national rationality” in the 18th century was replaced by the new concept of “political equilibrium”.

“Vienna conference

people have conducted various studies on the Vienna conference and the Metternich era for many reasons. At that time, people were concerned about the choice of following the old system and opening up a new way; Later researchers hope to learn some experience and solve the problems of their own times. For example, at the end of the 19th century, liberals and nationalists studied this era and condemned it as delaying the development of so-called liberalism and nationalism. After the first World War, historians marveled at the long-term peace after the Vienna conference and wanted to explore ways to create stability. During the cold war, “realists” believed that the world had been dominated by power politics, and they also intended to find a way to balance the two major forces in this era – they felt that Europe was in the middle of the seesaw, with the western world led by the United States and the eastern world led by the Soviet Union on both sides.

after the cold war, historians often look back on this period. For them, what is noteworthy about the Vienna conference is not what mistakes the participants made or how they balanced the forces in Europe, but that the conference opened up a new perspective of international politics by using the widely accepted code of ethics and conduct as a basis for assessing various situations and related consequences. Recent historians believe that after the Metternich era, the concepts of “reason of state” and “balance of power” in the 18th century were replaced by the new concept of “political equilibrium”. This concept advocates maintaining mutual stability and mutual benefit. The old concept of “countries sweep the snow in front of their own doors” has been gradually eliminated.

if we want to understand the greatness of the Vienna conference and the Metternich era, it is necessary to study the continuity of this period of history and the changes it brings in the broadest sense. Generally speaking, historians emphasize the revolutionary significance of the French Revolution and the times. History textbooks and history classes are also usually launched from the French Revolution in 1789. From this point of view, the Vienna conference and the Metternich era are only an episode – or even a setback – in the historical process, because it can be called a setback for the French Revolution and the principles of freedom, equality and fraternity advocated and emphasized by Napoleon. However, today’s historians began to pay more attention to this history and reassess its significance. There is no doubt that from the perspective of the pursuit of freedom and individualism in the process of human history, compared with the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era, this period has a retrogressive trend. But now there is a lot of evidence that Napoleon’s consciousness was far from reaching the modern level.

when Napoleon was born and broke the tranquility of France and even Europe, all his actions were based on the criterion of “national rationality”, which was actually a kind of egoism. This thought was widely reflected in the dynastic wars in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Like the Napoleonic wars, these wars were all for expansion. The countries that launched these wars pursued the traditional power politics, that is, the ruling dynasties and countries used the war to prevent their neighbors from becoming too powerful. In this era of cabinet diplomacy, the interests of dynasties and countries are paramount, while the interests of the whole Europe and the European people are irrelevant. Although Napoleon’s wartime propaganda and memoirs whitewashed his motives, the Napoleonic War was not divorced from the thinking system that dominated diplomacy throughout the 18th century.

Austrian foreign minister Metternich

Metternich’s practice of “political equilibrium” diplomacy

from this point of view, the Vienna conference and Metternich era can be said to be a major turning point in international relations. The long-term dynastic war and the recent Napoleonic War have gradually brought new ideas to European politicians. This new consciousness and determination contributed to the Vienna conference and the Metternich era. Therefore, although the Vienna conference enabled the restoration of the Bourbon Dynasty, this period was not so much a setback in the historical process as the beginning of modern history.

in the last period of Napoleon’s rule, new diplomatic ideas have sprouted. Although Napoleon himself never accepted this new view, his former ally and future enemy Clemens von metterne readily accepted it. In the summer of 1813, the Austrian foreign minister tried to mediate Napoleon’s relations with Britain, Prussia and Russia. He urged Napoleon to shake hands and make peace with these countries, taking into account the independence and neutrality of the Rhine Confederation. Metternich’s proposal will not damage France’s prestige, national strength and territory, but also reconstruct the political balance in Europe. But Napoleon believed that Austria’s move was for its own interests and refused to believe them.

some historians believe that mettner’s mediation is entirely to find a reason for the Habsburgs to break with the war madman Napoleon. Others believe that metterne aims to balance the forces of all parties. Peace talks can not only give Napoleon a little peace, but also ensure that Germany, once Napoleon’s Rhine Confederation, remains neutral and independent, so as to curb the ambitions of Prussia and Russia. However, using neutrality as a means of balancing forces is a new idea; It is also unprecedented that advice is only for the realization of regional peace and stability.

what metterne considered was neither the collapse of Napoleon nor the restoration of European dynasties. He just called for a just and peaceful Europe. The politician on the European continent realized that the chaos in Europe was very unfavorable to the Habsburg family. He hoped that Napoleon would give up hegemony and jointly create an era of peace and stability. nothingAt that time or now, both opponents and revolutionaries condemned mettner’s behavior and believed that he was conservative and safeguarded the relationship between the government and society at that time. The so-called “son of meine” is still trapped in the old thinking of Napoleon in 1813, but he can’t understand it. Finally, metterne reluctantly signed the Treaty of Chaumont on March 9, 1814 and joined the alliance of Britain, Russia and Prussia. The four countries agreed to fight for peace, erasing Napoleon’s last hope of dividing hostile forces. The alliance established by the Chaumont treaty continued to develop in the next 20 years, ensuring that the participating countries could resist the invasion of France together. Napoleon’s stubbornness made France have to face the Allied forces of European powers. For the first time in history, these countries worked together to face a common enemy. For the peace and stability of the whole continent, they not only defeated Napoleon, but also completely eliminated his possibility. Like the modern United Nations, this wartime military alliance has set the goal of maintaining international security for a long time even at the beginning of its establishment.