Restauration and Rising Nationalism

The Holy Alliance

After the VIENNA CONGRESS, the victorious powers formed the HOLY ALLIANCE with the goal to safeguard the new order as decided upon on the Congress. The borders were regarded inviolable. Members promised each other mutual assistance in case a revolution would break out. The dominant five great powers - Russia, Britain, Austria, Prussia and France - were referred to as the Pentarchy. Many of the smaller nations, for their protection, depended on the system of COLLECTIVE SECURITY, also referred to as the CONGRESS SYSTEM, provided by the Holy Alliance, which consisted of three powers, Russia, Prussia and Austria.
CZAR ALEXANDER I. was the most active proponent of the Holy Alliance. There were follow-up meetings to the Vienna Congress, the congresses at AACHEN (Aix-la-Chapelle) in 1818, at TROPPAU (Silesia) in 1820, at LJUBLJANA (Ger.: Laibach) in 1820, at Verona in 1822.
In 1830, when revolutions broke out in France and Belgium, his successor Nicholas I. actually prepared to dispatch troops, when the Poles rebelled against his rule. In 1848/49, the assistance of Russian troops was critical in the (Austrian) suppression of Hungary's revolution.

Britain was sceptical toward the alliance; it regarded the situation in Italy and Germany - too many small and medium-size states - as an open invitation for expansionist policy.
In 1830 the order established by the Vienna Congress underwent it's first major change, Belgium being separated from the Netherlands (1830/39), Greece declared independent and Serbia autonomous. In France, the Bourbon dynasty was finally expelled, meaning that Britain and France virtually broke out of the Holy Alliance. When Britain and France in 1853 attacked Russia, and both Prussia and Austria remained neutral (rather than assist Russia), the Alliance was practically dead. The Russians were especially disappointed of Austria, which only with Russian help in 1849 had been able to crush the Hungarian revolt.

Holy Alliance, article from the Catholic Encyclopedia
Holy Alliance, article from EB 1911
Congress of Vienna and the Congress System, 1814-1848, from Churchill HS
Article Aix-la-Chapelle, Congresses of, from EB 1911
Article Troppau, Congress of, from EB 1911
Article Laibach, from EB 1911
DOCUMENTS Holy Alliance Treaty of 1815, from History 232 at Dickinson College
Secret Treaty of Congress of Verona (1822), attached to 1916 Congressional Record Senate
Medals : Congress of Verona 1822 : Comte de Chateaubriand, Alexander I., Francis II., Friedrich Wilhelm III., Empress Marie Louise, posted by Christopher Eimer; medals stuck in England, satirical comments
REFERENCE Harold Nicolson, The Congress of Vienna, a Study in Allied Unity, 1812-1822, NY : Grove (1946) 2001, 320 pp. [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 4th 2001, last revised on July 13th 2005

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