The Congress in Vienna
My current stay in Vienna coincides with the Europe in Vienna exhibition at the museum of the Belvedere Palace*, which commemorates the bicentenary of the Congress of Vienna 1814/5, and so I made a visit to the exhibition on Saturday. It was pretty interesting, organised chronologically and thematically it showcased many artifacts and paintings from the long-running negotiations which set the shape of European international relations for the C19th century and beyond (video preview here).
The exhibition examined Vienna’s experience of the Napoleonic wars, the intellectual and social environment that surrounded the Congress, Austria’s diplomacy under Metternich, Austria’s use of aesthetic means to pursue what Morgenthau and Gilpin would call a policy of prestige, and the relationship among the principle powers – particularly Prussia, Russia and Austria. The exhibition featured lots of fascinating caricatures and cartoons from the era, lots of hagiographic depictions of generals and statesmen, one of the remaining versions of Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass, and the original Austrian copy of the Congress of Vienna Final Act itself – opened to the page of signatures. The exhibition really helped me envisage the Congress and make the events of that era present in my mind. I’ve been reading Braumoeller’s case study of the post-Vienna order and I’m tempted to delve deeper into the subject and getting to grips with the accounts by Schroeder and Osiander – but I think I will focus on more pressing goals in the immediate future. There’s never going to be a shortage of interesting things to read about world politics and interesting history.
*=Although the Belvedere was the site for the exhibition, the negotiations that comprised the Congress were conducted primarily at the Hofburg Palace closer to the centre of the city.