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Congress of Vienna

The Congress of Vienna began September 1st. It was a conference between ambassadors from the major powers in Europe that was chaired by the Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich and held on the way to Vienna, Austria, until June 9, 1815. Its purpose was to redraw the continent's political map after the defeat of Napoleonic France the previous spring. The discussions continued despite the ex-Emperor Napoleon I's return from exile and resumption of power in France in March 1815, and the Congress's Final Act was signed nine days before his final defeat at Waterloo on June 18, 1815. Technically, one might note that the "Congress of Vienna" never actually occurred, as the Congress never met in plenary session, with most of the discussions occurring in informal sessions among the Great Powers.

The Congress was concerned with determining the entire shape of Europe after the Napoleonic wars, with the exception of the terms of peace with France, which had already been decided by the Treaty of Paris, signed a few months earlier, on May 30, 1814.

At the congress, the United Kingdom was represented first by its Foreign Secretary, Viscount Castlereagh; after Castlereagh's return to England in February 1815, by the Duke of Wellington; and in the last weeks, after Wellington left to face Napoleon in the Hundred Days, by the Earl of Clancarty. Austria was represented by Prince Klemens von Metternich, the Foreign Minister, and by his deputy, Baron Wessenberg. Prussia was represented by Prince Karl August von Hardenberg, the Chancellor, and the diplomat and scholar Wilhelm von Humboldt. Louis XVIII's France was represented by its foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. Although Russia's official delegation was led by the foreign minister, Count Nesselrode, Tsar Alexander I for the most part acted on his own behalf. Initially, the representatives of the four victorious powers hoped to exclude the French from serious participation in the negotiations, but Talleyrand managed to skillfully insert himself into their inner councils in the first weeks of the negotiations.

The Allies' indecision on how to conduct their affairs without provoking a united protest from the lesser powers led to the calling of a preliminary conference on protocol, to which both Talleyrand and the Marquis of Labrador, Spain's representative, were invited on September 30, 1814. Congress Secretary Friedrich von Gentz (1764-1832) would report that "The intervention of Talleyrand and Labrador has hopelessly upset all our plans. Talleyrand protested against the procedure we have adopted and soundly [be]rated us for two hours. It was a scene I shall never forget." The embarrassed representatives of the Allies replied that the document concerning the protocol they had arranged actually meant nothing. "If it means so little, why did you sign it?" snapped Labrador.

Talleyrand’s policy, directed as much by national as personal ambitions, demanded the close but by no means amicable relationship he had with Labrador. Talleyrand regarded Labrador with "Olympian disdain"; of Talleyrand, the testy Spaniard would remark: "that cripple, unfortunately, is going to Vienna." Talleyrand skirted additional articles suggested by Labrador: he had no intention of handing over the 12,000 afrancesados ("frenchified" Spanish fugitives who had sworn fealty to Joseph Bonaparte), with whom he had shady business connections, nor the bulk of the documents, paintings, pieces of fine art, and works of hydrography and natural history that had been looted from the archives, palaces, churches and cathedrals of Spain.

Most of the work at the Congress was performed by the five main powers (Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria, France).

Territorial Changes

  • Russia was given most of the Duchy of Warsaw (Poland) and was allowed to keep Finland (which it had annexed from Sweden in 1809 and held until 1917).
  • Prussia was given two fifths of Saxony, parts of the Duchy of Warsaw (the Grand Duchy of Posen), Danzig, and the Rhineland/Westphalia.
  • A Germanic Confederation of 39 states was created from the previous 300, under the presidency of the Austrian Emperor. Only portions of the territory of Austria and Prussia were included in the Confederation.
  • The House of Orange was given the Dutch Republic and the Austrian Netherlands (approx. modern-day Belgium) to rule as the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (with the Netherlands outside and Luxemburg inside the German Confederation)
  • Norway was transferred to Sweden (in personal union)
  • Sweden ceded Swedish Pomerania to Prussia.
  • The neutrality of Switzerland was guaranteed
  • Hanover gave up the Duchy of Lauenburg to Denmark, but was enlarged by the addition of former territories of the Bishop of Münster and by the formerly Prussian East Friesland, and made a kingdom.
  • Most of the territorial gains of Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Nassau under the mediatizations of 1801-1806 were recognized. Bavaria also gained control of the Rhenish Palatinate and parts of the Napoleonic Duchy of Würzburg and Grand Duchy of Frankfurt. Hesse-Darmstadt, in exchange for giving up the Duchy of Westphalia to Prussia, was granted the city of Mainz.
  • Austria regained control of the Tirol and Salzburg; of the former Illyrian Provinces, and of Lombardy-Venetia in Italy. Former Austrian territory in Southwest Germany remained under the control of Württemberg and Baden, and the Austrian Netherlands were also not recovered.
  • Habsburg princes were returned to control of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy of Modena
  • The Papal States were restored to their former extent, with the exception of Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin, which remained part of France.
  • Britain was confirmed in control of Cape Colony, South Africa; Tobago; Ceylon; and various other colonies in Africa and Asia. Other colonies, most notably the Dutch East Indies and Martinique, were restored to their previous owners.
  • The King of Sardinia was restored in Piedmont, Nice, and Savoy, and was given control of Genoa
  • The Duchies of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla were given to Marie Louise, Napoleon's wife.
  • The Duchy of Lucca was created for the House of Bourbon-Parma, which would have reversionary rights to Parma after the death of Marie Louise.
  • The Bourbon Ferdinand IV, King of Sicily was restored to control of the Kingdom of Naples, but only after Joachim Murat, the king installed by Bonaparte, rose up and supported Napoleon in the Hundred Days.
  • The slave trade was condemned
  • Freedom of navigation was guaranteed for many rivers, including the Rhine.


§British Finance

The Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814 was a hoax or fraud centered on false information about the then-ongoing Napoleonic Wars.

On the morning of Monday February 21, 1814, a uniformed man posing as Colonel du Bourg, aide-du-camp to Lord Cathcart, arrived at the Ship Inn at Dover, England, bearing news that Napoleon I of France had been killed and the Bourbons were victorious. Requesting that this information be relayed on to the Admiralty in London via semaphore telegraph, "Colonel du Bourg" proceeded on toward London, stopping at each inn on the way to spread the good news. At about noon, confirmation for the news of peace arrived in the form of another coach which circulated throughout London, bearing three French officers who distributed leaflets celebrating the Bourbon victory.

Rumors of Napoleon's defeat had been circulating throughout the month, and the combined events had a significant impact on the London Stock Exchange. The value of government securities soared in the morning, after the news from Dover began to circulate among traders at the Exchange. Lacking official confirmation of the news, prices began to slide after the initial rush, only to be further propped up at noon by the French officers and their handbills.

However, the entire affair was a deliberate hoax. In the afternoon, the government confirmed that the news of peace was a fabrication. The affected stocks' prices immediately sank to their previous levels.

The Committee of the Stock Exchange, suspecting deliberate stock manipulation, launched an investigation into the hoax. It was soon discovered that there had been a sale that Monday of more than £1.1 million of two government-based stocks, most of it purchased the previous week. Three people connected with that purchase were charged with the fraud : Lord Cochrane, a Radical member of Parliament and well-known naval hero, his uncle the Hon. Andrew Cochrane-Johnstone, and Richard Butt, Lord Cochrane's financial advisor. A Captain Random de Berenger, who had posed both as du Bourg and as one of the "French officers," was soon arrested, and a guilty verdict was returned against all three charged in the case. The chief conspirators were sentenced to 12 months of prison time, a fine of £1,000 each, and an hour in the public pillory. Lord Cochrane was also stripped of his naval rank and expelled from the Order of the Bath.

§British Industry

Blücher was an early railway locomotive built in 1814 by George Stephenson for Killingworth Colliery.

Blücher was the first successful locomotive incorporating the following design features:

  • Flanged wheels keeping the locomotive on the track
  • Traction relying only on the friction of wheels on rails
  • Cylinder rods directly connected to the wheels

Blücher had the ability to pull a train of 30 tons at a speed of 4 mph. It was named after the Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who, after a speedy march, arrived in time to the battle of Waterloo and helped defeat Napoleon.

§British Politics

Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814

The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, also known as the Convention of London (one of several) was a treaty signed between the United Kingdom and the United Provinces in London on August 13, 1814. It was signed by Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, for the UK and Hendrik Fagel (or Henry Fagel) for the Dutch.


The treaty returned the colonial possessions of the Dutch as they were at the outbreak of the war of January 1, 1803, in the Americas, Africa, and Asia with the exceptions of the Cape of Good Hope and the South American settlements of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, where the Dutch retained trading rights.

In addition, the UK ceded the island of Banca in the Malay archipelago in exchange for the settlement of Cochin in India and its dependencies on the coast of Malabar. The Dutch also ceded the district of Bernagore, situated close to Calcutta, in exchange for an annual fee. The treaty also noted a declaration of June 15, 1814, by the Dutch that ships for the slave trade were no longer permitted in British ports and it agreed that this restriction would be extended to a ban on involvement in the slave trade by Dutch citizens.

The UK also agreed to pay £1,000,000 to Sweden to resolve a claim to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe (see Guadeloupe Fund). The UK and the Dutch agreed to spend £2,000,000 each on improving the defences of the Low Countries. More funds, of up to £3,000,000, are mentioned for the "final and satisfactory settlement of the Low Countries in union with Holland." Disputes arising from this treaty were the subject of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.


March 12 - Louis-Antoine, Duke of Angouleme enters Bourdeaux, marking the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty.

§Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of Brienne was fought on January 29, and resulted in a French victory under Napoleon Bonaparte against the Russians and Prussians under General Blücher.

February 14 - Napoleon wins the Battle of Vauchamps.

February 18 - Napoleon wins the Battle of Montereau.

March 7 - Napoleon wins the Battle of Craonne.

March 10 - Napoleon is defeated at the Battle of Laon in France.

March 30 - Napoleonic Wars: Sixth Coalition forces march into Paris.

March 31 - Anti-Napoleonic troops occupy Paris.

April 4 or April 6 - Emperor Napoleon abdicates. Louis XVIII becomes King of France.

May 30 - The First Treaty of Paris was signed returning France's borders to their 1792 extent. Napoleon I of France was exiled to Elba on the same day.


November - Congress of Vienna left Italy divided.

Napoleon spent nine months and 21 days in uneasy retirement on Elba, an island in Tuscany, Italy, 20 km from the coastal town of Piombino. He watched events in France with great interest. As he foresaw, the shrinkage of the great Empire into the realm of old France caused infinite disgust, a feeling fed every day by stories of the tactless way in which the Bourbon princes treated veterans of the Grand Armée. Equally threatening was the general situation in Europe. The demands of Czar Alexander I were for a time so exorbitant as to bring the powers at the Congress of Vienna to the verge of war.

Thus everything portended a renewal of Napoleon's activity. The return of French prisoners from Russia, Germany, Britain and Spain would furnish him with an army far larger than that which had won renown in 1814. So threatening were the symptoms that the royalists at Paris and the plenipotentiaries at Vienna talked of deporting him to the Azores or to Saint Helena, while others more than hinted at assassination.

§Papal States

With the fall of the Napoleonic system in 1814, the Papal States were restored once more

August 7 - Pope Pius VII reestablished the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) all over the world, after having approved their survival and existence in Russia as part of the Orthodox Catholic religion.


July 1 - Restoration of the Spanish king, Ferdinand VII

The Inquisition was reconstituted when Ferdinand VII recovered the throne on July 1.

§North America

§United States

§War of 1812

March 27, in northern Alabama, United States forces under General Andrew Jackson defeated the Creek at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

May 5th, the British attacked Fort Ontario at Oswego, New York.

July 5 - War of 1812: Battle of Chippewa - American Major General Jacob Brown defeats British General Phineas Riall at Chippewa, Ontario.

July 24 - War of 1812: General Phineas Riall advances toward Niagara Falls, Ontario to halt Jacob Brown's American invaders.

July 25 - War of 1812: Battle of Lundy's Lane - Reinforcements arrive near Niagara Falls, Ontario for General Riall's British and Canadian force, and bloody, all-night battle with Jacob Brown's Americans commences at 18.00; Americans retreat to Fort Erie.

August 24 - During the War of 1812, British troops occupy Washington, DC, setting numerous buildings on fire, including the Capitol.

The squadron of twenty barges, built in 1813 to defend the Chesapeake Bay were launched in April 1814, the squadron was quickly cornered in the Patuxent River, and while successful in harassing the Royal Navy, they were powerless to stop the British campaign that ultimately led to the "Burning of Washington".

This expedition, led by Cockburn and General Robert Ross, was carried out between August 19 and August 29, 1814, as the result of the hardened British policy of 1814 (although British and American commissioners had convened peace negotiations at Ghent in June of that year). As part of this, Admiral Warren had been replaced as Commander-in-Chief by Admiral Alexander Cochrane, with reinforcements and orders to coerce the Americans into a favourable peace. Governor-General Sir George Prevost of Canada had written to the Admirals in Bermuda calling for a retaliation for the American sacking of York (now Ontario). A force of 2,500 soldiers under General Ross, aboard a Royal Navy task force composed of the Royal Oak, three frigates, three sloops and ten other vessels, had just arrived in Bermuda. Released from the Peninsular War by British victory, it had been intended to use them for diversionary raids along the coasts of Maryland and Virginia. In response to Prevost's request, it was decided to employ this force, together with the naval and military units already on the station, to strike at Washington D.C.

On August 24. Secretary of War Armstrong insisted that the British would attack Baltimore rather than Washington, even when the British army was obviously on its way to the capital. The inexperienced American militia, which had congregated at Bladensburg, Maryland, to protect the capital, were destroyed in the Battle of Bladensburg, opening the route to Washington. While Dolley Madison saved valuables from the White House, President James Madison was forced to flee to Virginia. The British commanders ate the supper which had been prepared for him before they buned the President's Mansion; American morale was reduced to an all-time low. The British viewed their actions as retaliation for the Americans' burning of York (now Toronto) in 1813, although there are suggestions that the burning was in retaliation of destructive American raids into other parts of Upper Canada.

Having destroyed Washington's public buildings, including the White House and the Treasury, the British army next moved to capture Baltimore, a busy port and a key base for American privateers. The subsequent Battle of Baltimore began with a British landing at North Point, but withdrew when General Ross was killed at an American outpost. The British also attempted to attack Baltimore by sea on September 13 but were unable to reduce Fort McHenry, at the entrance to Baltimore Harbor. All the lights were extinguished in Baltimore the night of the attack, and the fort was bombarded for 25 hours. The only light was given off by the exploding shells over Fort McHenry, which gave proof that the flag was still over the fort. The defense of the fort inspired the American lawyer Francis Scott Key to write a poem that would eventually supply the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Creek War

In March 1814, Jackson led a force of Tennessee militia, Cherokee warriors, and U.S. regulars southward to attack the Creek tribes, led by Chief Menawa. On March 26, Jackson and General John Coffee decisively defeated the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend, killing 800 of 1,000 Creeks at a cost of 49 killed and 154 wounded of approximately 2,000 American and Cherokee forces. Jackson pursued the surviving Creeks until they surrendered. Most historians consider the Creek war as part of the War of 1812, because the Indians were a cause and the British supported them.

Final Days August 28 - Alexandria, Virginia offers surrender to the British fleet without a fight.

September 11, the Battle of Lake Champlain took place.

September 13, the bombardment of Fort McHenry at Baltimore.

November 7, Andrew Jackson seized Pensacola, Florida.

December 15, Hartford Convention convened.

Treaty of Ghent and Battle of New Orleans

On December 24, 1814, diplomats from the two countries, meeting in Ghent, United Kingdom of the Netherlands (present Belgium), signed the Treaty of Ghent. This was ratified by the Americans on February 16, 1815.

Unaware of the peace, Jackson's forces moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in late 1814 to defend against a large-scale British invasion. Jackson decisively defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, with over 2000 British casualties and fewer than 100 American losses. It was hailed as a great victory, making Andrew Jackson a national hero, eventually propelling him to the presidency. The British gave up on New Orleans but moved to attack the town of Mobile; when news of peace arrived on Feb. 13 they sailed home.

By the terms of the treaty, all land captured by either side was returned to the previous owner; the Americans received fishing rights in the Gulf of St. Lawrence; and all outstanding debts and property taken was to be returned or paid for. Instead of returning captured slaves, large numbers of which had been recruited as free men into the British services, the British paid cash for them.

§U.S. Politics

Secretary of the Treasury Gallatin wanted the Federal bank rechartered, and when the War of 1812 broke out, he discovered how difficult it was to finance the war without the Bank. Gallatin's successor as Treasury Secretary, Alexander J. Dallas, proposed a replacement in 1814.



January 14 - Denmark cedes Norway to Sweden in exchange for west Pomerania, as part of the Treaty of Kiel.

Danish Jews were granted civic equality


February 11 - Norway's independence is proclaimed, marking the ultimate end of the Kalmar Union.

May 17 - The Constitution of Norway is signed and the Danish Crown Prince Christian Frederik is elected King of Norway by the Norwegian Constituent Assembly.

§South America


January 31 - Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of Argentina.


The British had assumed control in the late 18th century and Guyana was officially transferred from the Netherlands to Britain and renamed "British Guiana".

§South Pacific

§New Zealand

Missionaries attempted to write down the Maori language.


February 1 - Mayon Volcano, in the Philippines, erupts, killing around 1,200 people; most devastating eruption of Mayon Volcano.


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