Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna by Adam Zamoyski - review by Christopher Clark

Christopher Clark

Sex and Summitry

Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna


Harper Press 616pp £25

A new Europe was born at the Congress of Vienna. A Dutch–Belgian composite state, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, appeared in the north-west. Norway was transferred from Denmark to Sweden. Austria relinquished forever its foothold in the Netherlands and struck deep inroads into Italy with the acquisition of Lombardy-Venetia and the installation of Habsburg dynasts on the thrones of Tuscany, Modena and Parma. The kingdom of Prussia became a colossus that stretched across the north of Germany, broken only by one gap, forty kilometres wide at its narrowest point. Of the 300-odd principalities and statelets that had inhabited the old Holy Roman Empire, only thirty-nine German territories remained. The borders of the Russian Empire, redrawn to encompass the bulk of eastern and central Poland, extended further westwards than at any time in European history.

The implications of this comprehensive restructuring were momentous. Prussia replaced Austria as the foremost German power. Piedmont-Sardinia emerged as the pre-eminent territory in the Italian peninsula. The Poles seethed for a century under a triple regime of occupation. The fear of the threat posed by a resurgent France sufficed, more

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