Gentz, Friedrich von

Gentz, Friedrich von

(frē`drĭkh fən gĕnts), 1764–1832, German conservative political theorist. Admirer of the English political system of checks and balances, Gentz was critical of the French Revolution. He translated (1793) Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. He conducted a relentless polemical campaign against Napoleon I, advocating civic liberties and the rule of law against egalitarian autocracy and illegitimate imperialism. Prussian neutrality led him to move from Berlin to Vienna (1802), where he advised on Austrian foreign policy and (1812) became secretary to Metternich. A powerful figure in Austrian and European politics, he served as secretary-general of the Congresses of Vienna, Aachen, Laibach, Troppau, and Verona, supporting the old order against the new without exception: in the Balkans, Spain, and Latin America.

Bibliography

See his The French and American Revolutions Compared (tr. by J. Q. Adams, 1803, new ed. 1955). See also biography by P. R. Sweet (1941, repr. 1970); G. Mann, Secretary of Europe (tr. 1946, repr. 1970); study by P. F. Reiff (1912, repr. 1967).

Gentz, Friedrich Von

 

Born May 2, 1764, in Breslau; died June 9, 1832, in Weinhaus, near Vienna. Austrian politician and publicist. Born into the family of a Prussian civil servant.

Gentz entered the Prussian state service in 1786 and went over to the Austrian service in 1802. In the mid-1790’s, he violently opposed the French Revolution and then Napoleonic France in his publicistic writing. He was subsidized by various countries (including Britain, from 1802). A close and trusted adviser of Metternich, Gentz was secretary of the Congress of Vienna of 1814-15, a conference of allied ministers in Paris in 1815, and congresses of the Holy Alliance in Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), Verona, Laibach, and Troppau. Gentz was an active defender of feudal-monarchical reaction. His works are an important historical source.

WORKS

Ausgewählte Schriften. …, vols. 1-5. Leipzig, 1836-38.
Tagebücher … , vols. 1-4. Leipzig, 1873-74.
Tagebücher (1829-1831). Vienna [1921].
Briefe, vols. 1-3. Munich-Berlin, 1909-13.

REFERENCES

Sweet, P. R. Friedrich von Gentz: Defender of the Old Order. Madison, Wise. [1941].
Mann, G. Friedrich von Gentz: Geschichte eines europäischen Staatsmannes. Zürich-Vienna, 1947.

A. B. GERMAN

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