The Congress of Vienna was conducted with the aim of reestablishing the territorial divisions of Europe at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. This in turn lead achieving a balance of power among the countries of Europe, which brought peace and order to Europe. To accomplish this diplomacy, the principle of a just equilibrium was adopted and the redrawing of boundaries of Europe to control the expansion of France was made. However, the objectives were achieved to a limited extent since countries self-interest affected the settlement of boundaries in Europe.
Each Great Power, Britain, France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria came to the Congress of Vienna with a preset idea of what each of their own countries were to achieve. Lord Casthereagh represented Britain at the Congress, adopted the idea of a just equilibrium from William Pitt. Casthereagh believed that the redrawing of country s boundaries in Europe should reflect equality in terms of size and quantity of land, when compared to the other powers. Thus, the term just meant fairness and equilibrium meant the common point of intersection in which all the powers were equal in territorial land. However, Britain s self-interests got in the way of this idea. Castlereagh believed the first settlement of Europe should not threaten Britain s enormous and vulnerable empire, and which whom international trade could be pursued without hindrance, as an increasingly industrialized country had to live. Thus, Britain focused on their naval supremacy to get this result. She obtained the Dutch colony of the Cape of Good Hope and Ceylon for eastern trade routes, Malta and the Ionian Islands for control of the Mediterranean, Holigoland for the control of the North Sea, and Trinidad to maintain trade within South America. Of these, the strategic islands were worth the most in terms of value, trade, and control of the waterways. British merchants in South America persuaded Castlereagh not to give places like Demerara to the Netherlands since 15 million had been invested into these places. Thus, taking this into account, they kept these places, forming British Guiana. To maintain the idea of a just equilibrium Casthereagh gave up some territories to display to the other powers that they were not gaining these islands for self-interest. He even wrote that it was not the business of England to collect trophies, but to restore Europe to peaceful habits. In regard to the 18th century diplomacy and just equilibrium Britain compromised on the same territories. This is why Britain and France did not come into conflict in the Treaty of Vienna in 1815 despite there have being self-interests in certain territories.
The Czar Alexander I represented Russia at the Congress of Vienna. He regarded himself as the sole individual of his state and deviser of his policy. People had hoped that he would consider the aims and interests of the people of Europe, and be less concerned with his country s territorial gains. This did not happen. Russia was so firm on attaining Poland, that Alexander had a 600 000 men army out of 1 000 000 situated in Poland. The other Great Powers did not want to be undermined by letting Russia attain all of Poland because they would potentially be a threat to the rest of Europe. With Britain having a strong navy, and France having the next best land army to Russia s, a Third Alliance was formed and prevented Russia from taking Poland. As a compromise, Poland was subdivided and Russia received the part of the Poland, which came to be Congress Poland. Despite Russia having wanted Poland, the other peacemakers at Vienna looked out for the interests of Europe and insured that Russia would not become too powerful and influential.
Chancellor Metternich represented Austria at the Congress of Vienna. In the interests of Austria, Metternich was bossy and domineering during territorial decisions at the Congress. Austria knew their power was slipping and that they were regarded by the other peacemakers as a power unlikely to remain a leading power. Austria was also remembered by the other powers as the country that had not taken a leading part in overthrowing Napoleon s empire. Thus Metternich strived at the congress of a central European power base controlled by Austria. He insisted that Austria have control of the Italian states so that Habsburg power remains influential over Europe and that peace and a good government in the peninsula would not occur without this. Regarding their self-interests, Austria wanted control of the German confederation. When the boundaries were settled, Austria was upset that she had to share the Confederation with Prussia. Thus she demanded that she be compensated for her inferiority to Germany by being awarded territories in Northern Italy. Austria was more concerned with maintaining her own power than trying to bring peace to Europe.
Prussia at the Congress was less concerned with territorial gains, but with regaining her power and prestige that she had lost at Jena in 1806 in a battle against France. Though Prussia had made a remarkable recovery from this defeat, she was still regarded as a weak state. The final settlement at the Congress of Vienna allotted the territory Posen and Thorn to Prussia. This was a successful gain for Prussia because Posen and Thorn were the best agriculture and farming land. It was three-fifths of Saxony; Swedish Pomerania, the Rhinelands and Saar. Also two-thirds of the population was located in this area. Prussia was more intent on compromising than trying to attain land, and so as a result, she did follow the aims of the peacemakers by attempting to reestablish a balance of power among the countries of Europe.
Talleyrand, who represented France, tried to appease the powers. He also tried to prove to the Great Powers that Louis XVIII could be trusted and should therefore be restored to the French throne. To have this done, Talleyrand created the Sacred Act of Legitimacy, which stated that rightful rulers should be restored to their legitimate thrones. The peacemakers agreed to this Act since Napoleon had left Europe in shambles, with some areas having no ruler. Thus, the rulers were restored to their thrones throughout Europe, in attempts to maintain peace and control of states. Despite Talleyrand wanting to gain back some areas France had lost, he compromised with the other powers in order to reach the settlement of Europe.
The peacemakers together agreed on one thing– France s empire had to be contained. They regarded France as a country that had aims since the 17th century, which caused her to be in a continual aggression of wars. To insure that there was peace in Europe, buffer states were created. These states were set up around France to control the Empire. The Kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia was created, Prussia s borders were extended towards France to give her control of the Rhine and the Kingdom of Netherlands joined the Belgians and Dutch together. Austria was awarded Northern Italian states so that there would be some Habsburg influence over the French Bourbon monarchy, but also to insure that France would be unchanged.
Despite the selfishness of each country have affected each representative at the Congress of Vienna, the peacemakers overcome this barrier and determined the settlement of Europe in the interest of Europe. The Treaty of Vienna in 1815 kept this balance of power which allowed the peace and order in Europe to remain undisturbed for at least 40 years.