The delegates at the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) were motivated to a surprisingly large degree by the desire to benefit Europe as a whole, and this is reflected in their purpose in calling the Congress together and the settlement they reached. National interest was modified for the sake of the general interest of Europe.
The Congress of Vienna was held in order to draw up a plan to alter Europe politically and territorially so as to prevent the extensive expansion of any one great power, such as that Napoleon had brought about. Creating a balance of power among the powerful nations of Europe, reinstating conservative regimes, containing France and reaching an agreement to cooperate with each other were the goals of the Congress which illustrated the altruistic attitude of the national representatives present and supported the overall purpose of preventing future widespread conflict.
Although the separate ambitions of the victors at the Congress to gain territory were mostly fueled by naked self- interest, they were forced to compromise in order to establish a balance of power.
Alexander I of Russia felt the nation was owed all of Poland while Prussia had designs on Saxony. In the final settlement, however, Russia had to share claim to Poland with Austria and Prussia, and Prussia received only half of Saxony with additional territories in the Rhineland as compensation. In this way, national interest was modified for the sake of maintaining the balance of power, which was in the general interest of Europe.
Besides the fact that the final settlement at the Congress of Vienna allotted the territory Napoleon had conquered to the victors in such a way as to prevent any one of them from becoming too powerful, the spoils were distributed in order to create a buffer against France. The Kingdom of...