The French Revolution and Napoleonic wars which produced new ideas of popular sovereignty, liberalism, and nationalism threatened the collective security and power relationships of many monarch states in Europe. The Vienna Congress that gathered attempted to reestablish the old conservative order and prevent the spread of the new order associated with Napoleonic France. Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo was an epic triumph for the allies of the Congress and their attempt to preserve the old order (Ancient Regime) and its associated power relationships. The defeat at Waterloo was not only a military victory it represented for the victors an end to the ideological trends initiated by the French Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic wars.
The Congress opened on October 1, 1814 and lasted to June 9, 1815 and focused on four broad objectives:
- creating a balance of power system in Europe
- Containing France and preventing it from becoming an European hegemonic power on the continent
- Restoring the legitimacy and place of the "old regime"
- Rewarding and sanctioning those parties involved in the Napoleonic Wars
One of the most delicate aspects of the Vienna Congress would be territorial settlements resulting in the French defeat.
Territorial gains and losses had to be drawn up in such a manner that would ensure a balance of power with the ultimate goal of European security. The most noteworthy part of the exercise to be pointed out was the fact that all of the allotted territories did not give rise to any one state becoming too powerful but resulting in a successful buffer against France. European Security was the ultimate goal in mind. The diplomats at the Vienna Congress realized that the idea of a secure Europe was one in which all of the countries were to be of similar strength...