HISTORY Subject : History Paper No. : Paper-VI History of Modern Europe Unit No. & Title : Unit-1 Europe between 1780 & 1871 Lecture No. & Title : Lecture-10 Europe after Napoleon: Forces of continuity and Forces of change (For under graduate student) Script Europe after Napoleon: forces of continuity and forces of change The final defeat and banishment of Napoleon to St.Helena apparently ended a quarter century of turmoil in France and Europe. The statesmen assembled at Vienna resumed their work of reconstruction of Europe and generally sought to restore status quo ante 1789. But too much change had been concentrated in too short a time for peace and order to be restored quickly. More significantly, Europe was poised between, as David Thomson had put it, the forces of change and forces of continuity. The forces of continuity included the institution of monarchy, the church, the landowning aristocracy and a generalised desire for peace. Monarchy: The conservatives and all those who wanted order focused their traditional loyalty on monarchy. Even the French Revolution did not at the beginning do away with the monarchy. The basic idea was that the hereditary right was the most stable form of political power. This produced the idea of legitimacy, which was turned upside down by Napoleon, the usurper. Yet, even Napoleon ultimately overthrew the republic to return to the institution of monarchy. A quarter century of change transformed the institution of monarchy as well. Kingship lost much of its earlier magic. Legitimism alone seemed to be an insufficient mortar to bind society together. However, restoration of dynastic monarchy appeared to be the safest bet for those who wanted continuity of European politics and society. Church: Revival of religious faith and restoration of the power of the Roman church also helped restored monarchies. A close alliance between the throne and altar was traditional. The church had suffered during the Revolution and the compromise of Napoleon, the Concordat, virtually reduced the church into a department of the state. The church also lost its earlier grip on education. However, a reaction set in against the rationalism and free-thinking bred by the Enlightenment because of the persecution of the church. This led to a revival of faith and the restored monarchies strengthened the alliance between the throne and the altar. The privileges of the church were restored including the control over education. If most of the leading intellectuals were on the side of rationalism in 1800, more than a decade later many leading minds were advocates of traditionalism, conservatism and the church. They included men like Burke in England, Chateaubriand, Joseph de Maistre and Bonald in France. Landowning aristocracy: The third element, as it were, in this combination for old order was those whose wealth lay mostly in land. The old feudal order had decayed in England and in France the feudal relations were given a burial by the Revolution, but land-owners (including those who had acquired it during the Revolution in France) remained influential in both society and politics. The electoral arrangements gave weightage to the property-owners. In fact, power in France and England was shared by this class with the bourgeoisie, who had a greater share in Britain as trade and industry played a larger part in the life of Britain. In other parts, like Germany, Italy, Spain and the Austrian empire the landed aristocracy still clung to its landed estates and retained their social and political predominance. In Poland and Russia the traditional power of the landed aristocracy remained intact in 1815. To these may be added a generalised desire for peace which would have opted for order. This was, however, something intangible. Forces of change: Even though the forces of continuity appeared to be on the ascendant after 1815, there was little doubt that Europe had indeed entered an age of rapid and fundamental change. Of course, the French Revolution was a major force on the side of transformation, but there were other socio-economic forces which made change almost inevitable even if there had been no revolution. Demographic growth: The population of Europe grew at very fast rate after 1750. It was 140 millions in 1750, but grew to 266 by 1850 and reached a peak of 401 by 1900. This high rate of growth was a new phenomenon and was sure to affect both society and politics profoundly. This growth to a large extent explains the restlessness that European society experienced in the nineteenth century. Industrial revolution: England was the first country to witness the industrial revolution, having experienced the take-off between 1780 and 1800.The basis of the industrial revolution was a transformation in the mode of production. Application of steam power to new machines invented lately replaced the old system and introduced what came to be known as the factory system. There were thus changes both in the methods and organisation of industrial production. This transformation was sweeping enough to have the term revolution given to it. It led to the growth of urban centres as the new sites of industrial production. Along side emerged two new social classes- the owners of capital (the entrepreneurs, the financiers, capitalists) and a new industrial proletariat who provided the input of labour. Such fundamental transformation of European economies, slow but sure, could hardly leave society and politics intact. Here then was a powerful impetus to change. Nationalism: European nationalism in the modern sense is a product of nineteenth century. The enlightenment and the French Revolution provided a powerful impetus to the growth of this idea. It gradually became a strong feeling in Italy and Germany where unification was achieved only in the second half of the century. It became strong in Poland, Spain, Belgium and Russia as well. The new nationalism was romantic, particularist and exclusive in character. New political ideas emerged from the late 18th century. These came to be known as liberalism, democracy and socialism. Liberalism was content with a constitution and individual rights, an elected assembly (on the basis of restricted, property-based franchise); but democracy asked for universal suffrage and a wider participation of the people in the government. Socialism engaged with the fate of the new working class. All these forces worked for change, while the rulers sought to preserve the old order in Europe. Obviously, the calm was more apparent than real with subterranean tension characterising European politics and society. The Congress of Vienna: After the defeat of Napoleon and his exile to Elba, European statesmen met at Vienna under Metternich, the Austrian chancellor, to redraw the map of Europe. But the return of Napoleon for a hundred days, as it were, snuffed the lights out of Vienna. It was only after his final defeat Waterloo that the serious business of peacemaking could be attended to. The two treaties of Paris, signed with France in 1814 and 1815 and the treaty of Vienna constituted the territorial settlement of Vienna. The congress was a glittering affair to which the presence of all the major rulers and statesmen added a special aura. The central figure of the congress was, no doubt, Prince Metternich, the Austrian chancellor, who presided over the meeting. He took the lead in restoring the old order in Europe. He has been described as the conservative conscience of Europe. He was very ably assisted by Gentz, his secretary. Britain was represented by Lord Cstlereagh, who was interested only in preserving the balance of power. This almost became an abstraction, but here he was in agreement with Metternich. The Russian Tsar Alexander was present himself, but had a large retinue of important diplomats. The Prussian king, Frederick William III was present, but the Prussian team was really led by Hardenburg, who was assisted by Von Humboldt. But perhaps the cleverest representative at Vienna was the French representative, Talleyrand. As the representative of the defeated power, Talleyrand had a special role to play and he succeeded in minimising France’s losses. Harold Nicholson had noted that in Talleyrand, ‘the sense of proportion and the sense of the occasion transcended opportunism; they amounted to genius’. The Congress is believed to have followed three principles in effecting the settlement: legitimacy, compensation and balance of power. Territorial arrangements: Belgium and Luxembourg were added to Holland to create a strong state to the north of France. Germany was made a confederation of 38 states and Austria was made the President of the confederation. There would be a central Diet at Frankfurt. Rhineland was given to Prussia. Bavaria received Bayreuth and Anspach. Austria was given Venetia in Italy for the loss of Belgium. This apart, Austria had Lombardy as well. The Bourbons were restored in Naples. The Austrian princes were restored in Parma (Marie Louise, the wife of Napoleon), Modena and Tuscany. The Pope was restored in the Papal States. Genoa was given to the House of Savoy. Norway was given to Sweden; Finland was transferred from Sweden to Russia. The Swiss cantons were guaranteed neutrality and security. Russia also received some territorial gains in the Eastern Europe at the cost of the Ottoman Empire. Britain secured compensation in the colonies. Heligoland, Malta, Ionian Islands, Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, Ile de France, Santa Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago were important colonial acquisitions for England. France’s border of 1791 was recognised, but she had to pay huge reparation. An army of occupation was to remain in France till the reparation was paid. France escaped without heavy losses and Talleyrand could get the credit for this. The Congress also proposed to put a ban on slave trade. It also proposed internationalisation of the river ways in Europe for commercial purposes. Assessment: The works of the Congress of Vienna have received both criticism and praise. Understandably, historians are not unanimous in passing their judgement. Harold Nicholson felt that the Congress had saved Europe from war for a long time. He also did not agree with the view that the assembled diplomats were ‘mere hucksters bartering the happiness of millions with a scented smile’. Another opinion was that the ‘the reactionary statesmen were neither antiquarians, nor prophets; they were harassed diplomats who were bedevilled by the imperious problems of the present.’ A major critique of the Congress was that it completely ignored the principles of nationalism and liberalism. This is why its work proved to be ephemeral. A balanced view is that of David Thomson who argued that despite limitations, the Congress was on the whole ‘reasonable and statesmanlike’. A fair estimate would be that the works of the Congress can look both ways. While it did achieve a lot, there were limitations as well. There was no doubt that under the leadership of Metternich the Congress sought, above all, to restore peace in Europe and to restore the political status quo revolution which broke had out. existed It before followed the the French principle of legitimacy to restore the old rulers to their thrones. If this was a conservative approach, it was only to be expected. The Congress has been accused of ignoring the principles of nationalism and liberalism completely. The union of Belgium with Holland and denying greater unity to either Germany or Italy are cited as instances. The extent to which Germany or Italy was prepared for unity at the time remains a matter of speculation. Belgium did make itself free though after a decade and a half. It was unlikely that Metternich, who presided over a multi-ethnic empire, would encourage nationalism. The Congress permitted the rulers to introduce constitutions if they so desired. It was Austria under Metternich who suppressed liberal movements in Germany, Italy and elsewhere after 1815. The Congress arrangements remained intact for some time. It preserved peace in Europe. There was no major war before the Crimean war in 1853-4. A sort of balance was restored. But quite plainly the Congress could not resolve the tension between the forces of continuity and the forces of change. Thus changes in politics, society and economy made the arrangement Vienna increasingly obsolete as the century progressed.