Everything was so exciting yet nerve-cracking when you were representing a regime to attend a congress that will affect the fate of your country! In EU1101E, we were to have a simulation of either Congress of Vienna (Congrès de Vienne) 1815 or Paris Peace Conference 1919 for the Treaty of Versailles (which is the disaster that brings in WWII). And my tutorial which was under Dr Fairey (it’s not some fairy who fly around with a wand; but he did reminds me of the KFC uncle) was the former ones. Just today before lecture, I overheard some squeaky comments from other tutorial who did the Paris Peace Conference and that adds on to my nervousness!
Anyway, I won’t be putting all the details and rationales down here because I am supposed to submit them in a brief. Maybe, I can share some opinion over it the next time?
In this Congress of Vienna, the involved party were Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia. So, were were portraying the delegates, which is:
Metternich (Austria) and Castlereagh(British). Ah, just an interesting background reading info, Castlereagh is known to be handsome (I think he is, according to this painting, haha), neat in his personal life (which means no messing with mistresses or any family chaos), coldly polite to the delegates but clumsy in written expression. But apparently his career went downhill after these and he went with depression and committed suicide, sigh…
Wellington (British, but changed a lot due to certain circumstances), an able delegate who has also helped a lot in supressing Napoleon during the Hundred Days, and Talleyrand (France), a crippled ex-priest, exiled during Napoleonic era but came later as minister from Napoleon, resigned due to issues and is pro-Bourbons – and now, pushing to help France! I must say, though Talleyrand seemed to be complicated in background, but he did a great job as a delegate over here!
Hardenburg (with diplomat Wilhelm von Humboldt and also King Frederick William III of Prussia working in background) and the Tsar Alexander I (Russia) the remaining autocracy who have all the decision to be made by himself.
So, who am I? I am in the Team France, who will be Talleyrand – that fat-looking capable man! And why are we at the Congress? This congress aims to come out with a system to ensure no more conflicts will be happening to Europe, especially expansionist, aggressive and revolution. This congress is highly conservative and anti-revolutionary. And what lead us here? Thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte who became the Emperor of France and became the expansionist who is so aggressive that he fight across Europe and conquer most of the land right until they met their fate in Russia. Hence, France was blamed for this although we had restored our monarchy with the Bourbon Louis XIV! And hence, the congress started with us having this piece of paper, showing us as the supporter of legitimate power, the Bourbons – with Coats of Arm from House of Bourbons and his flag:
Other than that, being blamed with all the destruction and losses, we were fighting a tough duel here. During the Introduction phase, we were labelled ‘enemy’ by all of other great powers inside. During the setting of agenda, we were not given the voice to say anything and the British came out with this Article of not letting France vote in any land division decision, how nice!
The actual congress was actually not a round table but rather of banquets, tea, balls, dancing, socials and several activities (I even read about sledging!) in Vienna, Austria. So, today was the real congress day and as France, we started our first agenda ‘Balance of Power’ declaring of legitimacy and retaining French border to 1792. Of course, chaotic arguments came. Because this is decided in First Treaty of Paris (30 May 1814). But as the congress was ongoing, Napoleon actually escaped from Elba and came back for his Hundred Days until his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo and the Second Treaty of Paris (20 November 1815) where they reduced French borders to 1790. So, which day of Congress are we in?! They were arguing that we signed the Second Treaty but we were arguing about we just started the congress and Napoleon haven’t escape. It was quite disappointing as the fighting was not that strong for this point and this, the only gain for the whole congress, was gain just by that!!!
Next, we have to discuss about buffer states whereby there is a huge dispute between each other regard Saxony and Rhineland. Russia came into the intervention by trying to manipulate the situation, dealing with their dearest Poland. But the thing is, Russia seemed not to be concerned that British had been manipulating with the other Great Powers by sending us mails. Whether any alliances were formed, I have no idea, but they did find the French for a couple discussion or two. Everyone was arguing for each interest (note this is the weakness of this congress) and finally we came up with almost no decision made. And as we agreed to the article during agenda setting, if anything not mentioned or not coming into conclusion, things will go back to the real 1815; and also decision made will be according to majority vote of 4:1. So, with all the arguments made about legitimacy, balance of power, sovereignty, my land, your land and most of all – the French are aggressive and we must do something to prevent them and to contain them! How grateful for their concern! So, we do fight with our points but i realized that some groups were just treating this congress like a show of telling us facts. The way they argue was to dig out some facts and historical story while some, like French, was more on strategy, diplomacy that kind of discussions. So, as I said, quarrelling and unwillingness to take a step backwards, is a disaster!
We ended up nothing changed due to no 4:1 majority vote – because of some stubborn, greedy, land-thirsty country. Well, they are not that bad, but they just played their part to the extreme. Anyway, we did came up with some kind of Holy Alliances with the request of religious value taken off – but this came to no clear conclusion, shall consult the others what to do for it later… Yup, basically, that’s what we did. Basically, I realized I didn’t talk much in it because some country was talking rubbish at the same time, aih… haha, but I think I should ask for advice from the lecturer to see in which way I can improve in case I am stuck in some congress in some real life, haha!