The Congress of Vienna was the assembly held between 1814 and 1815. The event led to the complete reorganization of Europe after the Napoleonic wars. The congress initially convened in September of 1814, which was a few months after Napoleon first abdicated. The Congress lasted until June 1815, around the time that the Waterloo campaign and the defeat of Napoleon happened. It was one of the most comprehensive treaties that the continent has ever witnessed.
The countries which took up a considerable responsibility in defeating Napoleon Included Austria, Russia, Great Britain, and Prussia; a vast region in present-day central Europe. The countries concluded a first treaty that was known as the Treaty of Chaumont, and later included France, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden in their alliance. However, the aforementioned countries wanted to keep the powers to make decisions to themselves.
In the September of 1814, delegates started arriving in Vienna. These were Europe’s most important statesmen including Prime Ministers, representatives to emperors, dukes, principal ministers and other ranking statesmen. Every part of the European continent was represented at the conference. A revolutionary aspect of the Congress was the attendance of rulers representing minor European states. Here, those that represented more underpopulated countries not only attended the Congress, but additionally and brought along ladies and secretaries to enjoy the social life of the Austrian court. It is said that this social side of the Congress was the reason why the Congress of Vienna took such a long time before it produced tangible results.
At the congress, the procedure followed was determined by the simplicity or difficulty level of the issue at hand. The first challenge was that of organizing the Congress, as there was no precedent. The four principal nations were allowed to keep managing the significant problems by themselves. The four decided that they were to determine the fate of all the conquered territories. When Talleyrand found this situation, he refused to go with the rules and disputed the legality of the four. He wanted the Congress to be summoned to elect a directing committee.
Talleyrand wanted the inclusion of the lesser four countries to form the eight, and the core four knew that the others would support him. They did not intend to cede to his demands, so the meetings were postponed many times. However, at some point, the four fell out, and Talleyrand realized that he had won Castlereagh and Metternich. He was able to get them to include France in the core decision-making group, and these five constituted the actual Congress of Vienna.
In June 1815, the final act of the Congress of Vienna was signed. This included all the earlier agreements in one instrument. There were political boundaries that were drawn by the Congress of Vienna which lasted for 40 years. The principals worked out a balance of power which ignored some aspects of statesmanship. It is this mistake that perhaps has led to a lot of condemnation of the Vienna congressmen. But with time, people have come to realize the critical role which was played by the Congress in securing a period of peace for the continent, without which, the entire continent would have fallen apart.
The statesmen’s biggest mistake was perhaps failing to give to international relations any organ that would lead to their work getting adopted by the new forces which arose in the 19th Century. As a result, most of their work was doomed for destruction. Therefore, held Europe together, even though it was faulty and helped the continent sail through one of the toughest periods in their history.