Every ruler throughout time has had to find a way to maintain their power so they can continue to make an impact. Whether it be by force, acting as a strict monarch as Machiavelli describes in "The Prince", or by acting as a leader that the people like and want to support. In class, we recently studied the Congress of Vienna, a 19th century meeting between the leaders of every great European country. At this meeting, the main topic of discussion was how they would get back their power that had been previously taken from Napoleon Bonaparte, and how they would protect it from threatening forces. In class we analyzed readings and used padlet to collaborate on what decisions and precautions we thought these European leaders should take in order to maintain their power. Towards the end of class, Mrs. Gallagher revealed the decisions that were really made at the Congress of Vienna.
Check put our use of padlet to learn share our ideas/ opinions about the Congress of Vienna:
At the Congress of Vienna, the reactions of major European powers after defeating the threat of Napoleon formulated into a few concepts, one of them being the prinicipal of legitimacy. This principle stated that people formerly in power would gain back their rights to rule. Klemens Von Metternich, the Austrian monarch who threatened to impose war on Napoleon if he did not give up his conquest, issues the principal of legitimacy because he wants distribution of power to go back to the way it was before Napoleon. Like other European rulers, he establishes his rightful power to rule over his country. By 1815, the Congress of Vienna finished their meetings. As a result, Napoleon was viewed as the enemy, and former European rulers regained their power without threat.
Although the Congress of Vienna may have been extravagant and long winded, it was important because the powerful people at it made choices that helped them get rid of Napoleon and protect their own power as rulers. With Napoleon on the downfall, leaders at the Congress of Vienna reacted by establishing principles such as that of legitimacy. They felt desperate to protect their power because it had been taken from them for so long, so some of their decisions were a little extreme. One way that these leaders could have reacted that would have resulted better for their people would be by passing laws that they all agreed upon, so that the people wouldn't feel completely dominated by these "legitimate rulers", and would feel like they had a say. I believe that those in power should be willing to sacrifice some of it in order to help their people and do what's best for the general population. Overall the Congress of Vienna resulted in former rulers regaining their power, and Napoleon losing his, but perhaps these rulers could have gained their power back in a way that better took into consideration the opinions of their people.
To learn more about the congress of Vienna, be sure to check out this interactive map!