Metternich, Clemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Fürst von
Metternich, Clemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Fürst von(klā`mĕns vĕn`tsəl nā`pōmo͝ok lō`tär fürst fən mĕt`ərnĭkh), 1773–1859, Austrian statesman and arbiter of post-Napoleonic Europe, b. Koblenz, of a noble Rhenish family.
While a student in Strasbourg Metternich witnessed revolutionary excesses, to which he later credited his extreme conservatism and hatred of political unrest. In 1795 he married Eleonora von Kaunitz, granddaughter of the Austrian statesman Wenzel von Kaunitz. She brought Metternich great estates and admission to the highest court circles. Metternich began his state career in 1797 as representative of the Westphalian college of counts at the Congress of Rastatt, and he became Austrian ambassador to Saxony (1801) and to Prussia (1803). The favorable impression he made upon the French envoy while in Berlin led Napoleon I to request that he be sent as Austrian representative to France (1806).
Metternich's influence greatly increased when he succeeded Johann Philipp von Stadion as foreign minister (1809). Until 1813 he pursued a policy of acquiescence to French supremacy, but he constantly sought to strengthen the diplomatic and military position of Austria in order to make future resistance possible and to disrupt the alliance between Napoleon and Czar Alexander I. He was successful in securing the marriage of Archduchess Marie LouiseMarie Louise,
1791–1847, empress of the French (1810–15) as consort of Napoleon I and duchess of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla (1816–47), daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II (later Emperor of Austria as Francis I.
..... Click the link for more information. to Napoleon (1810) and a temporary alliance with France (1812).
The middle course that Metternich pursued between France and Russia developed into a policy of armed mediation, and was supplanted by one of substituting Austrian for French supremacy in 1813. The Quadruple AllianceQuadruple Alliance,
any of several European alliances. The Quadruple Alliance of 1718 was formed by Great Britain, France, the Holy Roman emperor, and the Netherlands when Philip V of Spain, guided by Cardinal Alberoni, sought by force to nullify the peace settlements reached
..... Click the link for more information. was formed, and war of the coalition against France resulted in the allied victory at Leipzig (1813). Although Metternich wished French domination checked, he had no desire to see the country crushed, for he did not want Prussia and Russia too greatly strengthened and the balance of power upset. He hoped to make Austrian influence supreme in Italy and, while vigorously opposing German unity, sought Austrian ascendancy in the newly formed German ConfederationGerman Confederation,
1815–66, union of German states provided for at the Congress of Vienna to replace the old Holy Roman Empire, which had been destroyed during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It comprised 39 states in all, 35 monarchies and 4 free cities.
..... Click the link for more information. .
Although his role in Austrian affairs was weakened by rivalry with the liberal minister Franz Kolowrat, the period 1815–48 has been called the Age of Metternich, for during this time he was the chief arbiter of Europe. Using skillful diplomacy as the leader of conservatism in Europe, Metternich was the guiding spirit of the international congresses at Vienna (1814–15; see Vienna, Congress ofVienna, Congress of,
Sept., 1814–June, 1815, one of the most important international conferences in European history, called to remake Europe after the downfall of Napoleon I.
..... Click the link for more information. ), Aachen (1818), Carlsbad (1819; see Carlsbad DecreesCarlsbad Decrees,
1819, resolutions adopted by the ministers of German states at a conference at Carlsbad that was convened and dominated by Prince Metternich following the murder of August von Kotzebue by a student.
..... Click the link for more information. ), Troppau (1820; see Troppau, Congress ofTroppau, Congress of
, 1820, international conference convened at the behest of Czar Alexander I of Russia under the provisions of the Quadruple Alliance. The congress, which met at Troppau in Austrian Silesia, was attended by representatives of Russia, Austria, Prussia, Great
..... Click the link for more information. ), Laibach (1821; see Laibach, Congress ofLaibach, Congress of
, conference of European powers in 1821, held in what is now Ljubljana, Slovenia. The chief powers at the congress were Russia, Austria, Prussia, France, and Great Britain.
..... Click the link for more information. ), and Verona (1822; see Verona, Congress ofVerona, Congress of,
1822, at Verona, Italy, the last European conference held under the provisions of the Quadruple Alliance of 1814. The main problem discussed was the revolution in Spain against Ferdinand VII, and the congress decided that a French army, under mandate of the
..... Click the link for more information. ) and was the chief statesman of the so-called Holy AllianceHoly Alliance,
1815, agreement among the emperors of Russia and Austria and the king of Prussia, signed on Sept. 26. It was quite distinct from the Quadruple Alliance (Quintuple, after the admission of France) of Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, arrived at first in
..... Click the link for more information. . In 1813 he was created prince. His brilliant assistant was Friedrich von GentzGentz, Friedrich von
, 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.
..... Click the link for more information. .
The Metternich system depended upon political and religious censorship, espionage, and the suppression of revolutionary and nationalist movements. His name became anathema to liberals, and the revolutions of 1848revolutions of 1848,
in European history. The February Revolution in France gave impetus to a series of revolutionary explosions in Western and Central Europe. However the new French Republic did not support these movements.
..... Click the link for more information. (which forced him to seek refuge in England) were in part directed at his repressive system. Metternich returned to Austria in 1851.
Metternich's memoirs were published posthumously (1880–84), as was his correspondence (1899). The authoritative work on Metternich is Heinrich Ritter von Srbik's Metternich, der Staatsmann und der Mensch (1925).
See also biographies by H. du Coudray (1935), A. Cecil (3d ed. 1947), C. de Grunwald (tr. 1953), and A. Palmer (1972); studies by E. E. Kraehe (1963) and A. G. Haas (1963); A. J. May, The Age of Metternich (rev. ed. 1963).