Short description
In Vienna from 18 September 1814 to 9 June 1815, the Congress of Vienna convened. It had a double mission: establish a new European territorial order and solve the German constitutional question. The central position of Austria in Europe and in Germany had to be taken into account in the future new order, therefore an Austrian emperor in Vienna was not merely a host, nor was Metternich a mere chairman of the session with Gentz an ordinary secretary. At least in principle their ideas and key issues influenced the results of the Congress, which is among the most important political and diplomatic events of modern European history. The Congress primarily represented the four great powers - Russia, Austria, Great Britain and Prussia, of which three of their rulers - Austrian (Francis I), Russian (Alexander I) and Prussian (Friedrich Wilhelm III) - attended the Congress in person. Also in attendance were the other signatories of the First Peace of Paris (Spain, Portugal, Sweden) and conquered France, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, the Papal States, Genoa, the Netherlands, Sardinia, Sicily, Modena, the Kingdom of Naples and all the German states, the most important of which being: Bavaria, Saxony, Württemberg, Hanover, and including many other less important states and former heads of countries which were swept up by the previous revolutionary upheavals. Turkey did not attend the Congress, and Venice and Dubrovnik, victims of Napoleons coup, were not even invited. With the First Peace of Paris, which was signed at the end of May 1814, it was agreed that within two months a General Congress of the warring parties would convene in which they had to agree on a territorial and constitutional-political new European order which should be based on a shared responsibility for the maintenance of peace as the first requirement for the establishment of a reliable politically-secure system on the continent. This Vienna order (Wiener Ordnung) truly provided Europe with a long period of peace, but its starting point - the Congress - was itself anything but a success story. Historiography, especially in recent decades, has dealt with some of its aspects such as change, difficulties and even the coincidences that marked the work it did and the results it produced more than the mere intentions of its protagonists. Being threatened in various ways with the possibility to disintegrate, it arrived at a conclusion – Metternich, at the beginning, estimated at most a month or a month and a few days for its survival - under pressure from Napoleons 100 days and important points arising from many results, which were indeed very far from satisfying everyone, but were crucial in the long run. It was dissolved with the signing of the Final Act (Acte Final) 9 in June 1815. This was the only thing that breathed life into the Congress, which, in the words of the Prince of Ligne, did not work but danced, and therefore should be judged by its objective results rather than the agonizing paths which led to them, as Friedrich von Gentz would write in his Diario. The task for historiography is that with the passing of time, and of course with its characteristically critical lapse, that it again and again perceives this happening, along with its conclusions and consequences. The 200th anniversary of the time the Congress of Vienna was held and concluded seems to us a very appropriate occasion for this kind of reflection, here shaped in several essays on various themes and with different emphases which revolve around the same bearing and inspirational axis - the Congress of Vienna. This is all the more important because in Croatian historiography this anniversary (and this issue) has passed quite unnoticed, unlike, for example, the events pertaining to the period and dates of the French administration in the Croatian region. However, at least in its most essential, factual form, it was and still is permanently present in contemporary readings of Croatian historiography. The continuation of this path can certainly follow, of course in more complex and wider contexts, and in fresher and more modern forms, of which there are not just a few, nor are there few protagonists and problems which are swelling up and historiographically attractive. The purpose of these Proceedings is to encourage such new, wider and deeper historiographical insights regarding the Congress of Vienna in relation to the whole scope of this topic. The essays we present here, we hope, may serve such advances. And the names of the authors and subjects that are dealt with want to contribute to such a reflection. The languages on the other hand, in which the works are written, on a symbolic level point out that it is necessary to develop a broader comparative historical perspective. In fact the bibliography, which is gathered in one place at the end of the Proceedings, may serve as a useful and reliable guide.

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