The Vienna Congress was not a peace conference since the settlement had been done in the Treaty of Paris in 1814. It aimed at restoring and maintaining peace and order among nations by international co-operation. Although it really did prevent a general European conflagration for a whole century of time, it had also created a lot of problems, which led to further conflicts and unrest.
Maintaining peace was the main aim of this Congress. The Congress of Vienna succeeded in maintaining peace to some extent, but there were many other impacts created by it.
Firstly, several states lost their territories during the creation of new balance of power in Napoleon conquest. They needed compensation. Also, Countries who helped in defeating Napoleon needed to be rewarded. Under the punishment and reward system, lands from defeated countries were given to the victorious countries. Also because of the fear of the rise of French, there was the principle of encirclement. This created a new balance of power in Europe. It also led to many conflicts and problems in the later years. Such as Lombardy and Venetia of Italy were given to Austria, which created an obstacle to Italian unification. Sweden received Norway from Denmark, but Norway have uprising in the 1830s against Sweden ruled.
Secondly, by the principle of encirclement, buffer states were created to check against French ambition, as they still regarded France as a threat to European peace. An example of buffer state was the kingdom of Netherlands, which were the joining of Holland and Belgium. These two countries have a lot of differences, which later led to the Belgium war of independent.
Thirdly, by the principle of legitimacy, old and conservative regime might be restored. People would be under autocratic, conservative rules again. For example, the Pope was restored to Naples; Habsburgs was restored to Italy. By neglecting liberalism and nationalism, short-term peace might be maintained, but in the long term, people would finally rise up and fight for their rights, liberty and independence.
Fourthly, there was the forming of the Holy Alliance, which was aimed at keeping peace by international co-operation and was based on the Christian principles of justice, charity and peace. It seemed to be a merit of the Congress, but the truth was, no Power took this alliance seriously. Metternich’s comment on the alliance was “High-sounding nothing”. Instead, the alliance bound Austria, Prussia and Russia together, as they were all countries that were conservative and against changes. This split the European Powers into two camps. One was the conservative Powers and the other was the liberal one, which consisted Britain and France. The forming of the two camps had drawn many powers into the Crimean war in 1854, as conflict between any countries of the two camps will draw the supporting powers into it. Many powers were then pulled into the trouble water. It magnified the problems from internal into international scale.
Lastly, although the powers seemed to have common aim in maintaining peace, they were basically based on their self-interest instead of maintaining real peace. This might led to the growth of ideological, political, and economic gap between the absolutist and moderate liberal-constitutionalist governments and groups. Such as Russia wanted Poland because she wanted warm seaport; Prussia wanted Saxony for its own expansion. But Austria and Britain wanted to maintain a balance of power and status quo in Europe. Therefore, they often objected the requests of Russia, which in turn let to mutual distrust among countries.
Despite the numerous problems the Vienna Congress had created, it had successfully solved some problems created by Napoleonic conquest.
Firstly, during Napoleonic Era, he had disturbed a lot of countries by creating a lot of new states, changing the boundaries and appointing new rulers for some states. The representatives agreed to redraw the map in order to have a world with better order and please the unrest people who were disappointed by Napoleon’s arrangements. By legitimacy, they restored the old regime to the countries, which was familiar to the people, therefore they could adapt to their rule easier. Such as restoration of the Bourbon and Habsbury rule to France and Italian states respectively.
Secondly, there was the founding of the Concert of Europe, by which the five great powers became a governing council or directory for settling serious international questions. By using Concert practices such as diplomatic conferences rather than bilateral or multilateral negotiations to achieve agreed solutions. By this concert, many international conflicts were solved often by repressive means and never without friction, rivalry and great-power war or aggrandizement. Such as, in the Belgium war of independent, the Great Powers have not really involved in the war. They held the Congress of London and the Treaty of London in 1839 guaranteed Belgium neutrality. This proved that negotiations and diplomatic conferences were used instead of force.
Thirdly, France was known as a threat to European peace, therefore, it was necessary to prevent the re-emergence of France. By lenient treatment to France in the Treaty of Paris, France did not lose her own land and only had to give up those in which she conquered from others. France was also accepted in the Quadruple Alliance that later became the Quintuple Alliance. This aimed at discussing their “common interest” and “for the maintenance of peace in Europe”. Also, by encircling France, which was creating buffer states by strengthening states surrounded France, can prevent France from becoming too powerful and taking revenge. Balance of power can also be maintained. Such as joining of the Belgium and Holland to become the Kingdom of Netherlands; Piedmont was given the small states of Nice, Savoy and Genoa, and was united with Sardinia.
Fourthly, the balance of power and status quo were maintained and upheld by the policy of reward and compensation. Such as, Austria received Lombardy and Venetia in Italy; Russia received Finland and part of Poland. By this, it embodied a moderate, sensible territorial settlement that satisfied the main needs and requirements of the victors without despoiling or humiliating France. No powers became too powerful to threaten peace. Peace had really been maintained for at least 50 years, and no major wars were fought.
To conclude, the statement was true to a certain extent. The Congress of Vienna was a mixed blessing. Although it had created a lot of problems after a short period of peace, it at least really succeed in maintaining the peace for at least half a century, and solved the problems left by Napoleon.