New Editorial: The Congress of Aachen [Aix-la-Chapelle] (1818) and the Completion of the Vienna System
The Vienna system, the political and legal order of Europe after the fall of Napoleonic France, rested on two main pillars. If any leading principle could be discovered in the territorial settlement that was reached at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, it was the restoration of the balance of power. The principle was invoked to contain France by strengthening its neighbours to the east—in Italy and Germany—and to the north—the United Kingdom and the Netherlands—and to reorganize the defunct Holy Roman Empire into a confederation of just under 40 states led by Austria and Prussia. The other pillar, which became known as the ‘Concert of Europe’, was an agreement between the four leading powers that had brought Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) to his knees—Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia—to sustain their alliance against France and jointly assume responsibility for the territorial status quo and the peace of Europe.
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