The Russian Empire known as Imperial Russia or Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917. The third largest empire in world history, at its greatest extent stretching over three continents, Europe and North America, the Russian Empire was surpassed in landmass only by the British and Mongol empires; the rise of the Russian Empire coincided with the decline of neighboring rival powers: the Golden Horde, the Swedish Empire, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire. It played a major role in 1812–1814 in defeating Napoleon's ambitions to control Europe and expanded to the west and south; the House of Romanov ruled the Russian Empire from 1721 until 1762, its matrilineal branch of patrilineal German descent the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov ruled from 1762. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire extended from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea in the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean, into Alaska and Northern California in America on the east.
With 125.6 million subjects registered by the 1897 census, it had the third-largest population in the world at the time, after Qing China and India. Like all empires, it included a large disparity in terms of economics and religion. There were numerous dissident elements. Economically, the empire had a predominantly agricultural base, with low productivity on large estates worked by serfs, Russian peasants; the economy industrialized with the help of foreign investments in railways and factories. The land was ruled by a nobility from the 10th through the 17th centuries, subsequently by an emperor. Tsar Ivan III laid the groundwork for the empire that emerged, he tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, laid the foundations of the Russian state. Emperor Peter the Great fought numerous wars and expanded an huge empire into a major European power, he moved the capital from Moscow to the new model city of St. Petersburg, led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political mores with a modern, Europe-oriented, rationalist system.
Empress Catherine the Great presided over a golden age. Emperor Alexander II promoted numerous reforms, most the emancipation of all 23 million serfs in 1861, his policy in Eastern Europe involved protecting the Orthodox Christians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. That connection by 1914 led to Russia's entry into the First World War on the side of France, the United Kingdom, Serbia, against the German and Ottoman empires; the Russian Empire functioned as an absolute monarchy on principles of Orthodoxy and Nationality until the Revolution of 1905 and became a de jure constitutional monarchy. The empire collapsed during the February Revolution of 1917 as a result of massive failures in its participation in the First World War. Though the Empire was only proclaimed by Tsar Peter I following the Treaty of Nystad, some historians would argue that it was born either when Ivan III of Russia conquered Veliky Novgorod in 1478, or when Ivan the Terrible conquered the Khanate of Kazan in 1552. According to another point of view, the term Tsardom, used after the coronation of Ivan IV in 1547, was a contemporary Russian word for empire.
Much of Russia's expansion occurred in the 17th century, culminating in the first Russian colonization of the Pacific in the mid-17th century, the Russo-Polish War that incorporated left-bank Ukraine, the Russian conquest of Siberia. Poland was divided in the 1790 -- 1815 era, with much of the population going to Russia. Most of the 19th-century growth came from adding territory in Asia, south of Siberia. Peter I the Great played a major role in introducing Russia to the European state system. While the vast land had a population of 14 million, grain yields trailed behind those of agriculture in the West, compelling nearly the entire population to farm. Only a small percentage lived in towns; the class of kholops, close in status to slavery, remained a major institution in Russia until 1723, when Peter converted household kholops into house serfs, thus including them in poll taxation. Russian agricultural kholops were formally converted into serfs earlier in 1679. Peter's first military efforts were directed against the Ottoman Turks.
His attention turned to the North. Peter still lacked a secure northern seaport, except at Archangel on the White Sea, where the harbor was frozen for nine months a year. Access to the Baltic was blocked by Sweden. Peter's ambitions for a "window to the sea" led him to make a secret alliance in 1699 with Saxony, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark against Sweden, resulting in the Great Northern War; the war ended in 1721. Peter acquired four provinces situated east of the Gulf of Finland; the coveted access to the sea was now secured. There he built Russia's new capital, Saint Petersburg, to replace Moscow, which had long been Russia's cultural center. In 1722, he tur
Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars, he won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history, he was born in Corsica to a modest family of Italian origin from minor nobility. He was serving as an artillery officer in the French army when the French Revolution erupted in 1789.
He rose through the ranks of the military, seizing the new opportunities presented by the Revolution and becoming a general at age 24. The French Directory gave him command of the Army of Italy after he suppressed a revolt against the government from royalist insurgents. At age 26, he began his first military campaign against the Austrians and the Italian monarchs aligned with the Habsburgs—winning every battle, conquering the Italian Peninsula in a year while establishing "sister republics" with local support, becoming a war hero in France. In 1798, he led a military expedition to Egypt, he became First Consul of the Republic. Napoleon's ambition and public approval inspired him to go further, he became the first Emperor of the French in 1804. Intractable differences with the British meant that the French were facing a Third Coalition by 1805. Napoleon shattered this coalition with decisive victories in the Ulm Campaign and a historic triumph over the Russian Empire and Austrian Empire at the Battle of Austerlitz which led to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1806, the Fourth Coalition took up arms against him because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. Napoleon defeated Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt marched his Grande Armée deep into Eastern Europe and annihilated the Russians in June 1807 at the Battle of Friedland. France forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, bringing an uneasy peace to the continent. Tilsit signified the high-water mark of the French Empire. In 1809, the Austrians and the British challenged the French again during the War of the Fifth Coalition, but Napoleon solidified his grip over Europe after triumphing at the Battle of Wagram in July. Napoleon invaded the Iberian Peninsula, hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, declared his brother Joseph Bonaparte the King of Spain in 1808; the Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support. The Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, ended in victory for the Allies against Napoleon.
The Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states Russia. The Russians were unwilling to bear the economic consequences of reduced trade and violated the Continental System, enticing Napoleon into another war; the French launched a major invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The campaign did not yield the decisive victory Napoleon wanted, it resulted in the collapse of the Grande Armée and inspired a renewed push against Napoleon by his enemies. In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in the War of the Sixth Coalition against France. A lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, but his tactical victory at the minor Battle of Hanau allowed retreat onto French soil; the Allies invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April. He was exiled to the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany, the Bourbon dynasty was restored to power.
Napoleon took control of France once again. The Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition which defeated him at the Battle of Waterloo in June; the British exiled him to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died six years at the age of 51. Napoleon's influence on the modern world brought liberal reforms to the numerous territories that he conquered and controlled, such as the Low Countries and large parts of modern Italy and Germany, he implemented fundamental liberal policies throughout Western Europe. His Napoleonic Code has influenced the legal systems of more than 70 nations around the world. British historian Andrew Roberts states: "The ideas that underpin our modern world—meritocracy, equality before the law, property rights, religious toleration, modern secular education, sound finances, so on—were championed, consolidated and geographically extended by Napoleon. To them he added a rational and efficient local administration, an end to rural banditry, the encouragement of science and the arts, the abolition of feudalism and the greatest codification of laws since the fall of the Roman Empire".
The ancestors of Napoleon descended from minor Italian nobility of Tuscan origin who had come to Corsica fr
Battle of Friedland
The Battle of Friedland was a major engagement of the Napoleonic Wars between the armies of the French Empire commanded by Napoleon I and the armies of the Russian Empire led by Count von Bennigsen. Napoleon and the French obtained a decisive victory that routed much of the Russian army, which retreated chaotically over the Alle River by the end of the fighting; the battlefield is located near the town of Pravdinsk, Russia. The engagement at Friedland was a strategic necessity after the Battle of Eylau earlier in 1807 had failed to yield a decisive verdict for either side; the battle began when Bennigsen noticed the isolated corps of Marshal Lannes at the town of Friedland. Bennigsen, who planned only to secure his march northward to Wehlau and never intended to risk an engagement against Napoleon's numerically-superior forces, thought he had a good chance of destroying these isolated French units and ordered his entire army over the Alle River. Lannes held his ground against determined Russian attacks until Napoleon could bring additional forces onto the field.
Bennigsen could have recalled the Russian forces, numbering about 50,000–60,000 men, retreated across the river before the arrival of Napoleon's entire army but, being in poor health, decided to stay at Friedland and took no measures to protect his exposed and exhausted army. By late afternoon, the French had amassed a force of 80,000 troops on the battlefield. Relying on superior numbers, Napoleon concluded that the moment had come and ordered a massive assault against the Russian left flank; the sustained French attack pressed them against the river behind. Unable to withstand the pressure, the Russians broke and started escaping across the Alle, where an unknown number of them died from drowning; the Russian army suffered horrific casualties at Friedland–losing over 40% of its soldiers on the battlefield. Napoleon's overwhelming victory was enough to convince the Russian political establishment that peace was necessary. Friedland ended the War of the Fourth Coalition, as Emperor Alexander I reluctantly entered peace negotiations with Napoleon.
These discussions culminated in the Treaties of Tilsit, by which Russia agreed to join the Continental System against Great Britain and by which Prussia lost half of its territories. The lands lost by Prussia were converted into the new Kingdom of Westphalia, governed by Napoleon's brother, Jérôme. Tilsit gave France control of the Ionian Islands, a vital and strategic entry point into the Mediterranean Sea; some historians regard the political settlements at Tilsit as the height of Napoleon's empire because there was no longer any continental power challenging the French domination of Europe. Prior to Friedland, Europe had become embroiled in the War of the Third Coalition in 1805. Following the French victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in December 1805, Prussia went to war in 1806 to recover her position as the leading power of Central Europe. Franco-Prussian tensions increased after Austerlitz. Napoleon insisted; this adversely affected the German merchant class. Napoleon ordered a raid to seize a subversive, anti-Napoleonic bookseller named Johann Philipp Palm in August 1806, made a final attempt to secure terms with Britain by offering her Hanover, which infuriated Prussia.
The Prussians began to mobilize on August 9, 1806, issued an ultimatum on August 26: they required French troops to withdraw to the west bank of the Rhine by October 8 on pain of war between the two nations. Napoleon aimed to win the war by destroying the Prussian armies before the Russians could arrive. 180,000 French troops began to cross the Franconian forest on October 2, 1806, deployed in a bataillon-carré system designed to meet threats from any possible direction. On October 14 the French won decisively at the large double-battle of Jena-Auerstedt. A famous pursuit followed, by the end of the campaign the Prussians had lost 25,000 killed and wounded, 140,000 prisoners, more than 2,000 cannon. A few Prussian units managed to cross the Oder River into Poland, but Prussia lost the vast majority of its army. Russia now had to face France alone. By November 18 French forces under Louis Nicolas Davout had covered half the distance to Warsaw, Augereau's men had neared Bromberg, Jérôme Bonaparte's troops had reached the approaches of Kalisz.
When the French arrived in Poland, the local people hailed them as liberators. The Russian general Bennigsen worried that French forces might cut him off from Buxhoevden's army, so he abandoned Warsaw and retreated to the right bank of the Vistula. On November 28, 1806, French troops under Murat entered Warsaw; the French pursued the fleeing Russians and a significant battle developed around Pułtusk on December 26. The result remained in doubt, but Bennigsen wrote to the Tsar that he had defeated 60,000 French troops, as a result he gained overall command of the Russian armies in Poland. At this point, Marshal Ney began to extend his forces to procure food supplies. Bennigsen noticed a good opportunity to strike at an isolated French corps, but he abandoned his plans once he realized Napoléon's maneuvers intended to trap his army; the Russians withdrew towards Allenstein, to Eylau. On February 7 the Russians fought Soult's corps for possession of Eylau. Daybreak on February 8 saw 44,500 French troops on the field against 67,000 Russians, but after receiving reinforcements the French had 75,000 men against 76,000.
Napoleon hoped to pin Bennigsen's army long enough to allow Ney's and Davout's troops to outflank the Russians. A fierce struggle ensued; the Frenc
A sister republic was a republic established by French armies or by local revolutionaries and assisted by the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars. The French Revolution was a period of social and political upheaval in France from 1789 until 1799; the Republicans who overthrew the monarchy were driven by ideas of popular sovereignty, rule of law and representative democracy. The Republicans borrowed values from Whiggism and Enlightenment philosophers; the French Republic supported the spread of republican principles in Europe, but most of these sister republics became a means of controlling occupied lands as client regimes through a mix of French and local power. Republic of Alba reconquered by the Kingdom of Sardinia Republic of Pescara re-united with the Kingdom of Naples Parthenopean Republic reconquered by the Sanfedisti for the King of Naples and Sicily Roman Republic ended with the restoration of the Papal States Republic of Ancona joined Roman Republic Tiberina Republic joined Roman Republic Subalpine Republic annexed to the French Republic Piedmontese Republic, conquered by Austro-Russian troops and rendered back to Sardinia, but reconquered by Napoleon in 1800 and renamed Subalpine Republic Ligurian Republic annexed to the French Empire Republic of Lucca, replaced by the Principality of Lucca and Piombino Italian Republic transformed into the Kingdom of Italy Cisalpine Republic transformed into the Italian Republic Cispadane Republic formed the Cisalpine Republic Bolognese Republic annexed to the Cispadane Republic Republic of Bergamo formed the Cisalpine Republic Transpadane Republic formed the Cisalpine Republic Republic of Crema formed the Cisalpine Republic Republic of Brescia formed the Cisalpine Republic Republic of Bouillon Republic of Liège Republic of Rauracia revolutionary French republic in Basel Lémanique Republic joined the Helvetic Republic Republic of Mainz revolutionary French republic in Rhenish Hesse and the Electoral Palatinate Batavian Republic Netherlands Cisrhenian Republic Germany Republic of Connacht accompanied Humbert's Irish expedition in support of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 Helvetic Republic Switzerland Republic of Danzig Rhodanic Republic
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg, its total length is 1,094 kilometres. The Elbe's major tributaries include the rivers Vltava, Havel, Schwarze Elster, Ohře; the Elbe river basin, comprising the Elbe and its tributaries, has a catchment area of 148,268 square kilometres, the fourth largest in Europe. The basin spans four countries, with its largest parts in the Czech Republic. Much smaller parts lie in Poland; the basin is inhabited by 24.4 million people. The Elbe rises at an elevation of about 1,400 metres in the Krkonoše on the northwest borders of the Czech Republic near Labská bouda. Of the numerous small streams whose waters compose the infant river, the most important is the Bílé Labe, or White Elbe. After plunging down the 60 metres of the Labský vodopád, or Elbe Falls, the latter stream unites with the steeply torrential Malé Labe, thereafter the united stream of the Elbe pursues a southerly course, emerging from the mountain glens at Jaroměř, where it receives Úpa and Metuje.
Here the Elbe enters the vast vale named Polabí, continues on southwards through Hradec Králové and to Pardubice, where it turns to the west. At Kolín some 43 kilometres further on, it bends towards the north-west. At the village of Káraný, a little above Brandýs nad Labem, it picks up the Jizera. At Mělník its stream is more than doubled in volume by the Vltava, or Moldau, a major river which winds northwards through Bohemia. Upstream from the confluence the Vltava is in fact much longer, has a greater discharge and a larger drainage basin. Nonetheless, for historical reasons the river retains the name Elbe because at the confluence point it is the Elbe that flows through the main, wider valley while the Vltava flows into the valley to meet the Elbe at a right angle, thus appears to be the tributary river; some distance lower down, at Litoměřice, the waters of the Elbe are tinted by the reddish Ohře. Thus augmented, swollen into a stream 140 metres wide, the Elbe carves a path through the basaltic mass of the České Středohoří, churning its way through a picturesque, deep and curved rocky gorge.
Shortly after crossing the Czech-German frontier, passing through the sandstone defiles of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, the stream assumes a north-westerly direction, which on the whole it preserves right to the North Sea. The river rolls through Dresden and beyond Meißen, enters on its long journey across the North German Plain passing along the former western border of East Germany, touching Torgau, Dessau, Magdeburg and Hamburg on the way, taking on the waters of the Mulde and Saale from the west, those of the Schwarze Elster and Elde from the east. In its northern section both banks of the Elbe are characterised by flat fertile marshlands, former flood plains of the Elbe now diked. At Magdeburg there is a viaduct, the Magdeburg Water Bridge, that carries a canal and its shipping traffic over the Elbe and its banks, allowing shipping traffic to pass under it unhindered. From the sluice of Geesthacht on downstream the Elbe is subject to the tides, the tidal Elbe section is called the Low Elbe.
Soon the Elbe reaches Hamburg. Within the city-state the Unterelbe has a number of branch streams, such as Dove Elbe, Gose Elbe, Köhlbrand, Northern Elbe, Southern Elbe; some of which have been disconnected for vessels from the main stream by dikes. In 1390 the Gose Elbe was separated from the main stream by a dike connecting the two then-islands of Kirchwerder and Neuengamme; the Dove Elbe was diked off in 1437/38 at Gammer Ort. These hydraulic engineering works were carried out to protect marshlands from inundation, to improve the water supply of the Port of Hamburg. After the heavy inundation by the North Sea flood of 1962 the western section of the Southern Elbe was separated, becoming the Old Southern Elbe, while the waters of the eastern Southern Elbe now merge into the Köhlbrand, bridged by the Köhlbrandbrücke, the last bridge over the Elbe before the North Sea; the Northern Elbe passes the Elbe Philharmonic Hall and is crossed under by the old Elbe Tunnel, both in Hamburg's city centre.
A bit more downstream the Low Elbe's two main anabranches Northern Elbe and the Köhlbrand reunite south of Altona-Altstadt, a locality of Hamburg. Right after both anabranches reunited the Low Elbe is passed under by the New Elbe Tunnel, the last structural road link crossing the river before the North Sea. At the bay Mühlenberger Loch in Hamburg at kilometre 634, the Northern Elbe and the Southern Elbe used to reunite, why the bay is seen as the starting point of the Lower Elbe. Leaving the city-state the Lower Elbe passes between Holstein and the Elbe-Weser Triangle with Stade until it flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven. Near its mouth it passes the entrance to the Kiel Canal at Brunsbüttel before it debouches into the North Sea; the Elbe has been navigable by commercial ve
Central Europe is the region comprising the central part of Europe. It is said to occupy continuous territory that are otherwise conventionally Western Europe, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe; the concept of Central Europe is based on a common historical and cultural identity. Central Europe is going through a phase of "strategic awakening", with initiatives such as the CEI, Centrope and the Visegrád Four. While the region's economy shows high disparities with regard to income, all Central European countries are listed by the Human Development Index as highly developed. Elements of unity for Western and Central Europe were Latin; however Eastern Europe, which remained Eastern Orthodox, was the area of Graeco-Byzantine cultural influence. According to Hungarian historian Jenő Szűcs, foundations of Central European history at the first millennium were in close connection with Western European development, he explained that between the 11th and 15th centuries not only Christianization and its cultural consequences were implemented, but well-defined social features emerged in Central Europe based on Western characteristics.
The keyword of Western social development after millennium was the spread of liberties and autonomies in Western Europe. These phenomena appeared in the middle of the 13th century in Central European countries. There were self-governments of towns and parliaments. In 1335, under the rule of the King Charles I of Hungary, the castle of Visegrád, the seat of the Hungarian monarchs was the scene of the royal summit of the Kings of Poland and Hungary, they agreed to cooperate in the field of politics and commerce, inspiring their post-Cold War successors to launch a successful Central European initiative. In the Middle Ages, countries in Central Europe adopted Magdeburg rights. Before 1870, the industrialization that had developed in Western and Central Europe and the United States did not extend in any significant way to the rest of the world. In Eastern Europe, industrialization lagged far behind. Russia, for example, remained rural and agricultural, its autocratic rulers kept the peasants in serfdom.
The concept of Central Europe was known at the beginning of the 19th century, but its real life began in the 20th century and became an object of intensive interest. However, the first concept mixed science and economy – it was connected with intensively growing German economy and its aspirations to dominate a part of European continent called Mitteleuropa; the German term denoting Central Europe was so fashionable that other languages started referring to it when indicating territories from Rhine to Vistula, or Dnieper, from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans. An example of that-time vision of Central Europe may be seen in J. Partsch's book of 1903. On 21 January 1904, Mitteleuropäischer Wirtschaftsverein was established in Berlin with economic integration of Germany and Austria–Hungary as its main aim. Another time, the term Central Europe became connected to the German plans of political and cultural domination; the "bible" of the concept was Friedrich Naumann's book Mitteleuropa in which he called for an economic federation to be established after the war.
Naumann's idea was that the federation would have at its centre Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire but would include all European nations outside the Anglo-French alliance, on one side, Russia, on the other. The concept failed after the German defeat in the dissolution of Austria -- Hungary; the revival of the idea may be observed during the Hitler era. According to Emmanuel de Martonne, in 1927 the Central European countries included: Austria, Germany, Poland and Switzerland; the author use both Human and Physical Geographical features to define Central Europe, but he doesn't care about the legal development, the social, economic, infrastructural developments in these countries. The interwar period brought new geopolitical system and economic and political problems, the concept of Central Europe took a different character; the centre of interest was moved to its eastern part – the countries that have appeared on the map of Europe: Czechoslovakia and Poland. Central Europe ceased to be the area of German aspiration to lead or dominate and became a territory of various integration movements aiming at resolving political and national problems of "new" states, being a way to face German and Soviet pressures.
However, the conflict of interests was too big and neither Little Entente nor Intermarium ideas succeeded. The interwar period brought new elements to the concept of Central Europe. Before World War I, it embraced German states, non-German territories being an area of intended German penetration and domination – German leadership position was to be the natural result of economic dominance. After the war, the Eastern part of Central Europe was placed at the centre of the concept. At that time the scientists took an interest in the idea: the International Historical Congress in Brussels in 1923 was committed to Central Europe, the 1933 Congress continued the discussions. Hungarian scholar Magda Adam wrote in her study Versailles System and Central Europe: "Today we know that the bane of Central Europe was the Little Entente, military alliance of Czechoslovakia and Kingdom of Serbs and Slovenes (later Yu
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna called Vienna Congress, was a meeting of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, held in Vienna from November 1814 to June 1815, though the delegates had arrived and were negotiating by late September 1814. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars; the goal was not to restore old boundaries but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution, both of which threatened to upset the status quo in Europe. France lost all its recent conquests while Prussia and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in Swedish Pomerania and 60 % of the Kingdom of Saxony. Russia gained parts of Poland; the new Kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, included Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.
The immediate background was Napoleonic France's defeat and surrender in May 1814, which brought an end to 23 years of nearly continuous war. Negotiations continued despite the outbreak of fighting triggered by Napoleon's dramatic return from exile and resumption of power in France during the Hundred Days of March to July 1815; the Congress's "final act" was signed nine days before his final defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. The Congress has been criticized for causing the subsequent suppression of the emerging national and liberal movements, it has been seen as a reactionary movement for the benefit of traditional monarchs. However, others praise it for having created long-term stability and peaceful conditions in most of Europe. In a technical sense, the "Congress of Vienna" was not properly a congress: it never met in plenary session, most of the discussions occurred in informal, face-to-face sessions among the Great Powers of Austria, France and sometimes Prussia, with limited or no participation by other delegates.
On the other hand, the congress was the first occasion in history where, on a continental scale, national representatives came together to formulate treaties instead of relying on messages among the several capitals. The Congress of Vienna settlement, despite changes, formed the framework for European international politics until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914; the Treaty of Chaumont in 1814 had reaffirmed decisions, made and that would be ratified by the more important Congress of Vienna of 1814-15. They included the establishment of a confederated Germany, the division of Italy into independent states, the restoration of the Bourbon kings of Spain, the enlargement of the Netherlands to include what in 1830 became modern Belgium; the Treaty of Chaumont became the cornerstone of the European Alliance that formed the balance of power for decades. Other partial settlements had occurred at the Treaty of Paris between France and the Sixth Coalition, the Treaty of Kiel that covered issues raised regarding Scandinavia.
The Treaty of Paris had determined that a "general congress" should be held in Vienna and that invitations would be issued to "all the Powers engaged on either side in the present war". The opening was scheduled for July 1814; the Congress functioned through formal meetings such as working groups and official diplomatic functions. The Four Great Powers had formed the core of the Sixth Coalition. On the verge of Napoleon's defeat they had outlined their common position in the Treaty of Chaumont, negotiated the Treaty of Paris with the Bourbons during their restoration: Austria was represented by Prince Metternich, the Foreign Minister, by his deputy, Baron Johann von Wessenberg; as the Congress's sessions were in Vienna, Emperor Francis was kept informed. Britain was represented first by Viscount Castlereagh. In the last weeks it was headed by the Earl of Clancarty, after Wellington left to face Napoleon during the Hundred Days. Tsar Alexander I controlled the Russian delegation, formally led by the foreign minister, Count Karl Robert Nesselrode.
The tsar had two main goals, to gain control of Poland and to promote the peaceful coexistence of European nations. He succeeded in forming the Holy Alliance, based on monarchism and anti-secularism, formed to combat any threat of revolution or republicanism. Prussia was represented by Prince Karl August von Hardenberg, the Chancellor, the diplomat and scholar Wilhelm von Humboldt. King Frederick William III of Prussia was in Vienna, playing his role behind the scenes. France, the "fifth" power, was represented by its foreign minister, Talleyrand, as well as the Minister Plenipotentiary the Duke of Dalberg. Talleyrand had negotiated the Treaty of Paris for Louis XVIII of France; these parties had not been part of the Chaumont agreement, but had joined the Treaty of Paris: Spain – Marquis Pedro Gómez de Labrador Portugal – Plenipotentiaries: Pedro de Sousa Holstein, Count of Palmela. Sweden – Count Carl Löwenhielm Denmark – Count Niels Rosenkrantz, foreign minister. King Frederick VI was present in Vienna.
The Netherlands – Earl of Clancarty, the