The predecessor of the League of Nations and the UN, the Holy Alliance was created with the active participation of Russia
Napoleonic campaigns showed that war is not profitable for everyone. The European powers were eager for peace and stability, and 30 in May 1814 in Paris was won by Russia, the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and Great Britain, as well as the defeated France, and peace was concluded. However, European monarchies and more than any other Russian czar were looking for a truly effective way to insure their countries against shocks - especially revolutions.
Agamemnon of Europe
Russia played a decisive role in the victory over Napoleon: Alexander I’s insight prompted him not to limit himself to expelling the French invaders from the Russian limits, but to achieve a complete victory over them in Europe. This was not easy: the allies of Russia, Austria and Prussia, hesitated and generally leaned toward peace with Napoleon, subject to the release of part of the territories occupied by his troops. Alexander had to make considerable efforts to convince the allies that any world with Napoleon would inevitably turn out to be temporary - by gathering new forces, the “Corsican monster” would try to take revenge. Finally, in the grand “Battle of the Nations” at Leipzig, Germany was liberated from the French, and the defeat of Napoleon was only a matter of time: the Allied forces crossed the border of France and entered Paris. After Napoleon’s renunciation and exile of the Elbe, the Bourbon monarchy was restored in France, and it was Alexander who was one of those who persuaded the new king Louis XVIII to make it constitutional. For leadership, albeit informal, in the leadership of the allied forces, Alexander was called "Agamemnon of Europe."
When the French colossus was defeated, four European powers turned out to be the strongest: Russia, Prussia, Austria and Great Britain - it was they who had to decide the fate of Europe during the XIX century. However, the Vienna Congress, which opened in September 1814, showed that the collective victory over Napoleon and the possibility of the restoration of the monarchy in France did not at all smooth out the contradictions between the winners. It was easiest for the allies to agree on the borders of France - before the victory, in 1813, they offered peace to Napoleon on the condition that France would return to its previous size, 1790. Then Napoleon decisively rejected this proposal, which meant that France would lose not only the territories that he had conquered, but also those attached to it during the era of revolutionary wars. However, the defeat did not leave France a choice: Belgium, the Netherlands, the Savoy region, and part of the left bank of the Rhine were rejected.
Participants of the Congress of Vienna. Photo: Wikipedia.org
But the questions about Poland and Saxony caused serious disagreements. The allies, who feared over-gaining Russia, protested against Poland’s accession to Russia. Alexander, who wished to revive the Polish state, which would have been composed of lands belonging to Prussia, tried to compensate the Prussian king Frederick Wilhelm III for the lands he had lost by offering him Saxony in return. The decision suited both Prussia and the people of Saxony, who were Germans, not Slavs, like the inhabitants of Polish lands, and did not protest against living in the German state. However, Talleyrand, representing the interests of France and seeking to preserve the fragmentation of the German lands, in order to prevent the gain of Prussia, managed to turn Austria and England against this initiative. As a result, Prussia had to be content with Poznan, and not all Polish lands were included in the Duchy of Poland.
A novelty brought by the Congress of Vienna was a system of common treaties that linked the great powers - Russia, England, France - and the German states. These treaties pursued several goals. First of all, they were aimed at restoring the old dynasties and feudal order in the states that were previously conquered by Napoleon. Thus, the great powers insured themselves against the possibility of revolutions and guaranteed each other mutual support in case of internal unrest. Especially strong was the desire to prevent the return of the Bonapartist regime in France, which would give the nation hope for the return of the lost greatness. The new treaty system was supposed to provide Europe with stability.
At the same time, each of the great powers understood what stability is, somewhat differently. Alexander I, who personally took part in the negotiations in Vienna, sought to secure Russia's domination over other states and to prevent any coalitions against it. It was these considerations that forced the Russian tsar and his diplomats — Nesselrode, Razumovsky and Shtakelberg — to save France from over-weakening and to prevent the rapprochement between Austria and Prussia. The revival of Poland in this sense was one of the ways to keep Prussia and Austria from rising eastward. Austria was represented at the Congress of Vienna by Emperor Franz I and Chancellor Prince Metternich, the most consistent representative of the nobility-absolutist reaction.
It is curious that the Russian tsar acted there as the main apologist for liberal and constitutional ideas, in contrast to the Austrian Chancellor Clemens Metternich, who defended the inviolability of the rights of the old princely German dynasties and the feudal absolutist order. It was Metternich who fiercely protested against depriving the Saxon dynasty of her rights to the kingdom. In addition, Metternich, who sought to return to the old feudal order, pursued another goal - to prevent the national liberation movements from loosening multinational Austria from the inside.
There would be no happiness, but misfortune helped: the negotiations that had almost reached a dead end accelerated when Napoleon fled from the Elbe and, gathering a new army, began to move toward Paris. Just a few days before the battle of Waterloo, the Allies signed the final general act of Congress. New Europe received a whole system of checks and balances: France was surrounded by a number of buffer states and territories - the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in which Belgium and the Netherlands were united; enlarged Switzerland, the Sardinian kingdom, and the Rhine provinces of Prussia. In general, the territories of the great powers were increased in such a way that none of them gained a decisive advantage, which could soon turn against other states.
Title page of the act signed in Paris Title page of the act signed in Paris. Photo: Wikipedia.org
Union indestructible monarchs of Europe
European monarchs believed that the agreements reached at the Congress of Vienna were quite enough to secure the newly formed map of Europe. However, as early as next year the Russian tsar came up with a new initiative, which at first was perceived by his allies with great suspicion. 26 September 1815, Alexander I, Austrian Emperor Franz I and Prussian King Frederick William III signed an act in Paris declaring the appearance of the Holy Alliance. It was the first truly significant European collective defense treaty. The sovereigns who signed him promised "in any case and in any place ... to give each other benefits, reinforcements and assistance." In November, the French king Louis XVIII joined the union, and then most of the other monarchs - with the exception, as was often the case in European stories, became the UK, refraining from formal participation in the union, but later repeatedly consulted with him on certain issues.
Why did the Russian Tsar need the Holy Alliance? Soviet textbooks used to say that Alexander used the new treaty in order to stifle the revolutionary movements emerging in Europe. However, the king himself understood the meaning of the union differently. Thus, Metternich denies in his memoirs that the Holy Alliance was primarily a political association of powers, trying to limit the rights of peoples and guarantee the preservation of absolutism in the leading European powers. “The Holy Alliance was the only expression of the mystical aspirations of Emperor Alexander and the application of Christianity principles to politics,” writes the Chancellor. “The idea of a Holy Alliance arose from a mixture of liberal ideas, religious and political.”
Alexander really considered this collective agreement as a way of preserving peace in Europe and did not at all limit his role to the struggle with movements that arose within states. The Russian monarch understood him as a tool for building a new Europe on the basis of Christianity - apparently, this explains the unusual nature of the very text of the document, which was so different from the texts of all other treaties of the time. "In the name of the Most Holy and Divisible Trinity of Their Majesty, he feels an inner conviction of the need for the image of mutual relations before the powers to subordinate to the high truths inspired by the law of God the Savior, declare solemnly that the subject of this act is to open the universes of their unshakable determination ... to be led by the commandments of sowing the faith of faith, the commandments of love, truth and peace. " The document noted that monarchs should behave in relation to each other, like brothers, and in relation to their filed - as fathers of families. "The single prevailing rule be: to bring each other services, to provide mutual goodwill and love, to honor all of them as members of a single Christian people, because the Allied rulers consider themselves set up by Providence to manage a single family by branches ... confessing The autocrat of the Christian people ... there is no other truly, as the One to whom the country itself belongs, in it alone the treasures of love, knowledge and wisdom are infinite. ”
Alexander I in 1814 year near Paris. Picture F. Kruger.
Probably, the Sacred Alliance treaty was nothing more than a true predecessor of later documents that brought about such international organizations as the League of Nations and the UN. The similarity of formulations is striking if we recall the text of the preamble of the UN Charter: “We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, twice in our lives that brought mankind inexpressible grief, and reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in dignity and the value of the human person, the equality of men and women and the equality of the rights of large and small nations ... and to this end, show tolerance and live together in peace with each other, as good neighbors. " If we leave aside the Christian background of the ideology of the Holy Alliance and the secular - the UN Charter, the similarity is really remarkable.
And even the fact that in the future the union was engaged mainly in the suppression of revolutionary movements does not detract from the significance of this document. It can hardly be considered surprising that Alexander, like other European monarchs, continued to believe that the revolution threatened the world of their states, and over the years showed increasing suspicion towards liberal and constitutional ideals. Alexander and Metternich himself, who played a leading role at the congresses of the union, more consistently defended the principles of "legitimism" - the legitimacy of dynasties and regimes in power, overturned by the French revolution and Napoleonic wars. Having a good purpose, the Holy Alliance increasingly mutated into a tool to combat the revolutionary and national liberation movements - so, in 1920, after the revolution in Spain and Naples, the three leading powers of Europe - Russia, Austria and Prussia - signed at the Congress in Troppau a protocol openly proclaiming their right to interfere in the internal affairs of other states, if the interests of the struggle against the revolutionary contagion demanded it. And, despite the verbal protests of French and British diplomats, who feared that the Trinity’s intervention could affect the internal affairs of their home states, Austria tried the newly acquired right during the invasion of the Neapolitan kingdom and Piedmont, where absolute monarchies were restored.
The sacred union did not survive its initiator: with the death of Alexander, the collective activity of this organization collapses, its functions are assumed by its individual participants, who do not always consider it necessary to enlist the support of other states. Nevertheless, the system of relations created with the participation of the Russian emperor turned out to be more durable - it existed until the middle of the XIX century. The Congress of Vienna and the formation of the Holy Alliance had more serious consequences: they marked the beginning of a long world: almost 100 years, from 1815 to 1914 a year, Europe did not know major wars, in which several leading powers would take part.