Concert of Europe

The Concert of Europe represented the European balance of power from 1815 to 1848 and from 1871 to 1914.

A first phase of the Concert of Europe, known as the Congress System or the Vienna System after the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), was dominated by five Great Powers of Europe: Prussia, Russia, Britain, France and Austria. The more conservative members of the Concert of Europe, who were also members of the Holy Alliance, used this system to oppose revolutionary movements, weaken the forces of nationalism, and uphold the balance of power. Historians date its effective operation from the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815) to the early 1820s, although some see it playing a role until the Crimean War (1853–1856).[1]

With the Revolutions of 1848 the Vienna system collapsed and, although the republican rebellions were checked, an age of nationalism began and culminated in the unifications of Italy (by Sardinia) and Germany (by Prussia) in 1871. The German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck re-created the Concert of Europe to avoid future conflicts escalating into new wars. The revitalized concert included France, Britain, Austria, Russia, and Italy with Germany as the main continental power economically and militarily. The Congress of Berlin and the Conference of Berlin promoted the solidification of power in the respective controlled regions as well as imperialism. Ultimately the Concert of Europe split itself into the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, and World War I broke out in 1914.[2]

Concert of Europe
1815 to 1848 – 1871 to 1914
Europe 1815 map en
The national boundaries within Europe as set by the Congress of Vienna, 1815.
Preceded byNapoleonic era
Followed byWorld War I


The Concert of Europe was founded by the powers of Austria, Prussia, Russia and the United Kingdom, which were the members of the Quadruple Alliance that defeated Napoleon and his First French Empire. In time, France was established as a fifth member of the Concert, following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy.

At first, the leading personalities of the system were British foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh, Austrian Chancellor Klemens von Metternich and Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord of France was largely responsible for quickly returning that country to its place alongside the other major powers in international diplomacy.

Metternich (c. 1835-40)
Prince Metternich, Austrian Chancellor and an influential leader in the Concert of Europe.

The age of the Concert is sometimes known as the Age of Metternich, due to the influence of the Austrian chancellor's conservatism and the dominance of Austria within the German Confederation, or as the European Restoration, because of the reactionary efforts of the Congress of Vienna to restore Europe to its state before the French Revolution. It is known in German as the Pentarchie (pentarchy) and in Russian as the Vienna System (Венская система, Venskaya sistema).

The Concert of Europe had no written rules or permanent institutions, but at times of crisis any of the member countries could propose a conference.[3] Meetings of the Great Powers during this period included Aix-la-Chapelle (1818), Carlsbad (1819), Troppau (1820), Laibach (1821), and Verona (1822).

The Concert's effectiveness came to an end because of many factors such as the British distrust of Russia.[4]


The idea of a European federation had been already raised by figures such as Gottfried Leibniz[5] and Lord Grenville.[6] The Concert of Europe, as developed by Metternich, drew upon their ideas and the notion of a balance of power in international relations, so that the ambitions of each Great Power would be restrained by the others:

The Concert of Europe, as it began to be called at the time, had ... a reality in international law, which derived from the final Act of the Vienna Congress, which stipulated that the boundaries established in 1815 could not be altered without the consent of its eight signatories.[7]

French Revolution

From the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792 to the exile of Napoleon to Saint Helena in 1815, Europe had been almost constantly at war. During this time, the military conquests of France had resulted in the spread of liberalism throughout much of the continent, resulting in many states adopting the Napoleonic code. Largely as a reaction to the radicalism of the French Revolution,[8] most victorious powers of the Napoleonic Wars resolved to suppress liberalism and nationalism, and revert largely to the status quo of Europe prior to 1789.[9]

Holy Alliance

The Kingdom of Prussia, and the Austrian and Russian empires, formed the Holy Alliance (26 September 1815) with the expressed intent of preserving Christian social values and traditional monarchism.[10] Every member of the anti-Napoleonic coalition promptly joined the Alliance, except for the United Kingdom, a constitutional monarchy with a more liberal political philosophy. The great powers were now in a system of meeting wherever a problem arose. Britain and France did not send their representatives because they opposed the idea of intervention.

Quadruple Alliance

Britain did however ratify the Quadruple Alliance, signed on the same day as the Second Peace Treaty of Paris (20 November 1815), which became the Quintuple Alliance when France joined in 1818. It was also signed by the same three powers that had signed the Holy Alliance on 26 September 1815.[11]

Differences between the Holy Alliance and the Quadruple Alliance

There has been much debate between historians as to which treaty was more influential in the development of international relations in Europe in the two decades following the end of the Napoleonic Wars. In the opinion of historian Tim Chapman the differences are somewhat academic, as the powers were not bound by the terms of the treaties and many of them intentionally broke the terms if it suited them.[12]

The Holy Alliance was the brainchild of Tsar Alexander I. It gained a lot of support because most European monarchs did not wish to offend the Tsar by refusing to sign it, and as it bound monarchs personally rather than their governments, it was easy to ignore once signed. Only three notable princes did not sign: Pope Pius VII (it was not Catholic enough), Sultan Mahmud II of the Ottoman Empire, and the British Prince Regent because his government did not wish to pledge itself to the policing of continental Europe. In the opinion of Lord Castlereagh, the British foreign secretary at the time of its inception, the Holy Alliance was "a piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense".[12] Although it did not fit comfortably within the complex, sophisticated and cynical web of power politics that epitomised diplomacy of the post-Napoleonic era, its influence was more long lasting than its contemporary critics expected and was revived in the 1820s as a tool of repression when the terms of the Quintuple Alliance were not seen to fit the purposes of some of the Great Powers of Europe.[13]

The Quadruple Alliance, by contrast, was a standard treaty, and the four Great Powers did not invite any of their allies to sign it. The primary objective was to bind the signatories to support the terms of the Second Treaty of Paris for 20 years. It included a provision for the High Contracting Parties to "renew their meeting at fixed periods...for the purpose of consulting on their common interests" which were the "prosperity of the Nations, and the maintenance of peace in Europe".[14] A problem with the wording of Article VI of the treaty is that it did not specify what these "fixed periods" were to be and there were no provisions in the treaty for a permanent commission to arrange and organise the conferences. This meant that the first conference in 1818 dealt with remaining issues of the French wars, but after that instead of meeting at "fixed periods" the meetings were arranged on an ad hoc basis, to address specific threats, such as those posed by revolutions, for which the treaty was not drafted.[15]


  • The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818) resolved the issues of Allied occupation of France and restored that country to equal status with Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia.
  • The Congress of Troppau (1820) decreed that in the event of revolution a country could be expelled from the European Alliance, and armed intervention could be used to "bring back the guilty state into the bosom of the Great Alliance".

Collapse by 1823

The territorial boundaries laid down at the Congress of Vienna were maintained; even more important, there was an acceptance of the theme of balance with no major aggression.[16] Otherwise, the Congress system, says historian Roy Bridge, "failed" by 1823.[17] In 1818, the British decided not to become involved in continental issues that did not directly affect them. They rejected the plan of Alexander I to suppress future revolutions. The Concert system fell apart as the common goals of the Great Powers were replaced by growing political and economic rivalries.[18] Artz says the Congress of Verona in 1822 "marked the end."[19] There was no Congress called to restore the old system during the great revolutionary upheavals of 1848 with their demands for revision of the Congress of Vienna's frontiers along national lines.[20]

Historian Paul Hayes says of British foreign minister George Canning:

His most important achievement was the destruction of the system of the neo-Holy Alliance which, if unchallenged, must have dominated Europe. Canning realized it was not enough for Britain to boycott conferences and congresses; it was essential to persuade the Powers that their interests could not be advanced by a system of intervention based upon principles of legitimacy, anti-nationalism and hostility to revolution.[21]

See also


  1. ^ Elrod, Richard B. "The Concert of Europe: A Fresh Look at an International System". World Politics. 28 (2): 159–174. doi:10.2307/2009888. Retrieved 16 June 2017 – via Cambridge Core.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Stevenson, David (2004). 1914 – 1918: The History of the First World War. Penguin Books. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-14-026817-1.
  4. ^ Guy Arnold (2002). Historical Dictionary of the Crimean War. p. 65.
  5. ^ Loemker, Leroy (1969) [1956]. Leibniz: Philosophical Papers and Letters. Reidel. p. 58, fn 9.
  6. ^ Sherwig, John M. (September 1962). "Lord Grenville's Plan for a Concert of Europe, 1797–99". The Journal of Modern History. 34 (3): 284–293. doi:10.1086/239117.
  7. ^ Soutou, Georges-Henri (November 2000). "Was There a European Order in the Twentieth Century? From the Concert of Europe to the End of the Cold War". Contemporary European History. Theme Issue: Reflections on the Twentieth Century. 9 (3): 330.
  8. ^ Soutou 2000, p. 329.
  9. ^ Soutou 2000, p. 330.
  10. ^ PD-icon.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Spahn, M. (1910). Holy Alliance". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
  11. ^ Chapman, Tim (2006). The Congress of Vienna 1814–1815. Routledge. p. 60. ISBN 9781134680504.
  12. ^ a b Chapman 2006, p. 60.
  13. ^ Chapman 2006, p. 61.
  14. ^ Chapman 2006, p. 62.
  15. ^ Chapman 2006, pp. 61–62.
  16. ^ Gordon Craig, "The System of Alliances and the Balance of Power." in J.P.T. Bury, ed., The New Cambridge Modern History, Vol. 10: The Zenith of European Power, 1830–70 (1960) p 266.
  17. ^ Roy Bridge, "Allied Diplomacy in Peacetime: The Failure of the Congress 'System,' 1815–23" in Alan Sked, ed., Europe's Balance of Power, 1815–1848 (1979), pp 34–53
  18. ^ C.W. Crawley, "International Relations, 1815–1830" in C.W. Crawley, ed., The New Cambridge Modern History: Volume 9, War and Peace in an Age of Upheaval, 1793–1830. Vol. 9 (1965) pp 669–71, 676–77, 683–86.
  19. ^ Frederick B. Artz, Reaction & Revolution: 1814–1832 (1934) p 170.
  20. ^ Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics: 1763–1848 (1996) p 800.
  21. ^ Paul Hayes, Modern British Foreign Policy: The 19th Century 1814–80 (A&C Black, 1975) p 89

Further reading

  • Bridge, Roy, "Allied Diplomacy in Peacetime: The Failure of the Congress 'System,' 1815–23" in Alan Sked, ed., Europe's Balance of Power, 1815–1848 (1979), pp 34–53.
  • Ghervas, Stella (2008). Réinventer la tradition. Alexandre Stourdza et l'Europe de la Sainte-Alliance. Paris: Honoré Champion. ISBN 978-2-7453-1669-1.
  • Jarrett, Mark (2013). The Congress of Vienna and its Legacy: War and Great Power Diplomacy after Napoleon. London: I. B. Tauris & Company, Ltd. ISBN 978-1780761169.

External links


The 1810s decade ran from January 1, 1810, to December 31, 1819.

The decade was opened with a very hostile political climate around the world. Napoleon was invading France's neighbours in efforts to build a French Empire, causing a chain of global-scaled conflicts known as the Napoleonic Wars. Here, France's Napoleonic empire saw its rise and fall through events such as Napoleon's attempts to conquer Russia, the War of 1812 (spillover to America), and the Battle of Waterloo (Napoleon's ultimate defeat). Imperialism began to encroach towards African and Asian territories through trade, as the U.S saw mass-scaled migration that headed westward towards the American frontier (mostly through the opening of the Oregon Trail.)

Concert of Nations

The Concert of Nations is a set of political beliefs that emerged in the nineteenth century at the Congress of Vienna but continue to be influential for international relations even through the present day. The ideas behind the Concert of Nations are rooted in seventeenth century political philosophy of harmonism, which included music, politics, religion, science, and the entire universe (physical and metaphysical). The Congress of Vienna enacted the principles of the Concert in both musical entertainment and political relations. The stability of Europe during the decades following the Congress of Vienna has led to widespread popularity of the idea of a Concert of Nations, though its (largely theoretical) application vary widely in their interpretations of what a Concert of Nations means for present-day international relations.

Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818)

The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, held in the autumn of 1818, was a high-level diplomatic meeting of France and the four allied powers Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia which had defeated it in 1814. The purpose was to decide the withdrawal of the army of occupation from France and renegotiate the reparations it owed. It produced an amicable settlement, whereby France refinanced its reparations debt, and the Allies in a few weeks withdrew all of their troops.It was part of the series of conferences in the Concert of Europe.

The occupation was formally terminated at the conference on 30 September 1818; by 30 November evacuation was complete. The French representative Duc de Richelieu succeeded in having France admitted as a full discussion partner in the European congress system and France's position as a European power was restored.

Financially, France was originally obligated to pay 700 million francs, in installments every four months for five years (see Treaty of Paris, 1815). When the Congress met, Paris had discharged its obligations punctually. 332 million remained, and France offered to pay the sum of 265 million. Of that, 100 million francs would be in the form of French bonds bearing interest, and the rest in installments through to English banks.

The main achievement of the Congress was to definitively terminate the great wars of 1792-1815. They closed out all claims against France, and accepted France as an equal and full member of the Concert of Four, which was now composed of Five Powers. To hedge their bets, the Four secretly renewed the Quadruple Alliance, but this was a formality of no consequence. The Four drifted apart year by year over questions dealing with Italy, South America, and Greece.

Congress of Laibach

The Congress of Laibach was a conference of the allied sovereigns or their representatives, held in 1821 as part of the Concert of Europe, which was the decided attempt of the Great Powers to settle international problems after the Napoleonic Wars through discussion and collective weight rather than on the battlefield. A result of the Congress was the authorization of Austrian intervention in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in order to quell a liberal uprising.

Congress of Verona

The Congress of Verona met at Verona on 20 October 1822 as part of the series of international conferences or congresses that opened with the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15, which had instituted the Concert of Europe at the close of the Napoleonic Wars.

The Quintuple Alliance was represented by the following persons:

Russia: Emperor Alexander I and Count Karl Robert Nesselrode (minister of foreign affairs). Count George Mocenigo (Ambassador of Russia in Torino), was also present;

Austria: Prince Metternich;

Prussia: Prince Hardenberg and Count Christian Gunther von Bernstorff;

France: The duc de Montmorency-Laval (minister of Foreign Affairs) and François-René de Chateaubriand;

United Kingdom: The Duke of Wellington, who was taking the place of Viscount Castlereagh after his suicide on the eve of the congress.

Congress of Vienna

The Congress of Vienna (French: Congrès de Vienne, German: Wiener Kongress), also called Vienna Congress, was a meeting of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, and held in Vienna from November 1814 to June 1815, though the delegates had arrived and were already negotiating by late September 1814. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution, both of which threatened to upset the status quo in Europe. France lost all its recent conquests while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west, Swedish Pomerania and 60% of the Kingdom of Saxony; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained parts of Poland. The new Kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, and included formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.

The immediate background was Napoleonic France's defeat and surrender in May 1814, which brought an end to 25 years of nearly continuous war. Negotiations continued despite the outbreak of fighting triggered by Napoleon's dramatic return from exile and resumption of power in France during the Hundred Days of March to July 1815. The Congress's "final act" was signed nine days before his final defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

The Congress has often been criticized for causing the subsequent suppression of the emerging national and liberal movements, and it has been seen as a reactionary movement for the benefit of traditional monarchs. However, others praise it for having created relatively long-term stability and peaceful conditions in most of Europe.In a technical sense, the "Congress of Vienna" was not properly a congress: it never met in plenary session, and most of the discussions occurred in informal, face-to-face sessions among the Great Powers of Austria, Britain, France, Russia, and sometimes Prussia, with limited or no participation by other delegates. On the other hand, the congress was the first occasion in history where, on a continental scale, national representatives came together to formulate treaties instead of relying mostly on messages among the several capitals. The Congress of Vienna settlement, despite later changes, formed the framework for European international politics until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

Conservative Order

The Conservative Order is the period in European political history after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. From 1815 to 1830 a conscious program by conservative statesmen, including Metternich and Castlereagh, was put in place to contain revolution and revolutionary forces by restoring old orders, particularly previous ruling aristocracies. In South America, on the other hand and in light of the Monroe Doctrine, this was a time in which the Spanish and Portuguese colonies gained independence.

Britain, Prussia, Russia and Austria renewed their commitment to prevent any restoration of Bonapartist power and agreed to meet regularly in conferences to discuss their common interests. This period contains the time of the Holy Alliance, which was a military agreement. The Concert of Europe was the political framework that grew out of the Quadruple Alliance, in November 1815.

Eastern Question

In diplomatic history, the "Eastern Question" refers to the strategic competition and political considerations of the European Great Powers in light of the political and economic instability in the Ottoman Empire from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. Characterized as the "sick man of Europe", the relative weakening of the empire's military strength in the second half of the eighteenth century threatened to undermine the fragile balance of power system largely shaped by the Concert of Europe. The Eastern Question encompassed myriad interrelated elements: Ottoman military defeats, Ottoman institutional insolvency, the ongoing Ottoman political and economic modernization programme, the rise of ethno-religious nationalism in its provinces, and Great Power rivalries.The origin of the Eastern Question is normally dated to 1878, when the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) ended in defeat for the Ottomans. As the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire was believed to be imminent, the European powers engaged in a power struggle to safeguard their military, strategic and commercial interests in the Ottoman domains. Imperial Russia stood to benefit from the decline of the Ottoman Empire; on the other hand, Austria-Hungary and Great Britain deemed the preservation of the Empire to be in their best interests. The Eastern Question was put to rest after World War I, one of the outcomes of which was the collapse and division of the Ottoman holdings.

European balance of power

The European balance of power referred to international relations between European countries during the First World War, which evolved into the present states of Europe. The Nineteenth Century political concept emerged at the Peace of Paris in 1815. It is often known by the term European State System. Its basic tenet is that no single European power should be allowed to achieve hegemony over a substantial part of the continent and that this is best curtailed by having a small number of ever-changing alliances contend for power.

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor

Francis II (German: Franz; 12 February 1768 – 2 March 1835) was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation after the decisive defeat at the hands of the First French Empire led by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1804, he had founded the Austrian Empire and became Francis I, the first Emperor of Austria, ruling from 1804 to 1835, so later he was named the one and only Doppelkaiser (double emperor) in history.

For the two years between 1804 and 1806, Francis used the title and style by the Grace of God elected Roman Emperor, ever Augustus, hereditary Emperor of Austria and he was called the Emperor of both the Holy Roman Empire and Austria. He was also Apostolic King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia as Francis I. He also served as the first president of the German Confederation following its establishment in 1815.

Francis II continued his leading role as an opponent of Napoleonic France in the Napoleonic Wars, and suffered several more defeats after Austerlitz. The proxy marriage of state of his daughter Marie Louise of Austria to Napoleon on 10 March 1810 was arguably his severest personal defeat. After the abdication of Napoleon following the War of the Sixth Coalition, Austria participated as a leading member of the Holy Alliance at the Congress of Vienna, which was largely dominated by Francis's chancellor Klemens Wenzel, Prince von Metternich culminating in a new European map and the restoration of Francis's ancient dominions (except the Holy Roman Empire which was dissolved). Due to the establishment of the Concert of Europe, which largely resisted popular nationalist and liberal tendencies, Francis became viewed as a reactionary later in his reign.

Great power

A great power is a sovereign state that is recognized as having the ability and expertise to exert its influence on a global scale. Great powers characteristically possess military and economic strength, as well as diplomatic and soft power influence, which may cause middle or small powers to consider the great powers' opinions before taking actions of their own. International relations theorists have posited that great power status can be characterized into power capabilities, spatial aspects, and status dimensions.

While some nations are widely considered to be great powers, there is no definitive list of them. Sometimes the status of great powers is formally recognized in conferences such as the Congress of Vienna or the United Nations Security Council. Accordingly, the status of great powers has also been formally and informally recognized in forums such as the Group of Seven (G7).The term "great power" was first used to represent the most important powers in Europe during the post-Napoleonic era. The "Great Powers" constituted the "Concert of Europe" and claimed the right to joint enforcement of the postwar treaties. The formalization of the division between small powers and great powers came about with the signing of the Treaty of Chaumont in 1814. Since then, the international balance of power has shifted numerous times, most dramatically during World War I and World War II. In literature, alternative terms for great power are often world power or major power, but these terms can also be interchangeable with superpower.

Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha

Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha, also spelled as Mehmed Emin Aali (March 5, 1815 – September 7, 1871) was a prominent Ottoman statesman during the Tanzimat period, best known as the architect of the Ottoman Reform Edict of 1856, and for his role in the Treaty of Paris (1856) that ended the Crimean War. Âli Pasha was widely regarded as a deft and able statesman, and often credited with preventing an early break-up of the empire.Âli Pasha advocated for a western style of reform to modernize the empire, including secularization of the state and improvements to civil liberties. He worked to pacify nationalist movements while at the same time fend off foreign aggressors that were trying to weaken Ottoman control. He advocated for an Ottoman nationalism that would replace diverse ethnic and religious loyalties.

From humble origins as the son of a doorkeeper, Âli Pasha rose through the ranks of the Ottoman state and became the Minister of Foreign Affairs for a short time in 1840, and again in 1846. He became Grand Vizier for a few months in 1852, then again Foreign Minister in 1854. Between 1855 and 1871 he alternated between the two jobs, ultimately holding the position of Foreign Minister seven times and Grand Vizier five times in his lifetime. He was awarded the Order of the Red Eagle, 1st Class (for non-Christians) in 1851.

Romantic nationalism

Romantic nationalism (also national romanticism, organic nationalism, identity nationalism) is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs. This includes, depending on the particular manner of practice, the language, race, culture, religion, and customs of the nation in its primal sense of those who were born within its culture. This form of nationalism arose in reaction to dynastic or imperial hegemony, which assessed the legitimacy of the state from the top down, emanating from a monarch or other authority, which justified its existence. Such downward-radiating power might ultimately derive from a god or gods

(see the divine right of kings and the Mandate of Heaven).

Among the key themes of Romanticism, and its most enduring legacy, the cultural assertions of romantic nationalism have also been central in post-Enlightenment art and political philosophy. From its earliest stirrings, with their focus on the development of national languages and folklore, and the spiritual value of local customs and traditions, to the movements that would redraw the map of Europe and lead to calls for self-determination of nationalities, nationalism was one of the key issues in Romanticism, determining its roles, expressions and meanings.

Historically in Europe, the watershed year for romantic nationalism was 1848, when a revolutionary wave spread across the continent; numerous nationalistic revolutions occurred in various fragmented regions (such as Italy) or multinational states (such as the Austrian Empire). While initially the revolutions fell to reactionary forces and the old order was quickly re-established, the many revolutions would mark the first step towards liberalization and the formation of modern nation states across much of Europe.

Splendid isolation

Splendid isolation is the term used at the time for the 19th-century British diplomatic practice of avoiding permanent alliances, particularly under the governments of Lord Salisbury between 1885 and 1902. The practice emerged as early as 1822 with Britain's exit from the post-1815 Concert of Europe and continued until the 1904 Entente Cordiale with France, when the division of Europe into two power blocs and Britain's isolation during the 1899–1902 Second Boer War led to a reversal of the policy.

The term was coined in January 1896 by a Canadian politician, George Eulas Foster, indicating his approval for Britain's minimal involvement in European affairs by saying, "In these somewhat troublesome days when the great Mother Empire stands splendidly isolated in Europe."

Treaty of London (1839)

The Treaty of London of 1839, also called the First Treaty of London, the Convention of 1839, the Treaty of Separation, the Quintuple Treaty of 1839, or the Treaty of the XXIV articles, was a treaty signed on 19 April 1839 between the Concert of Europe, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Belgium. It was a direct follow-up to the 1831 Treaty of the XVIII Articles which the Netherlands had refused to sign, and the result of negotiations at the London Conference of 1838–1839.Under the treaty, the European powers recognized and guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Belgium and established the full independence of the German-speaking part of Luxembourg. Article VII required Belgium to remain perpetually neutral, and by implication committed the signatory powers to guard that neutrality in the event of invasion.

Treaty of Paris (1856)

The Treaty of Paris of 1856 settled the Crimean War between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia.The treaty, signed on 30 March 1856 at the Congress of Paris, made the Black Sea neutral territory, closed it to all warships and prohibited fortifications and the presence of armaments on its shores.

The treaty marked a severe setback to Russian influence in the region. Conditions for the return of Sevastopol and other towns and cities in the south of Crimea to Russia were clear, as it could not establish any naval or military arsenal on the coast of the Black Sea.


Unilateralism is any doctrine or agenda that supports one-sided action. Such action may be in disregard for other parties, or as an expression of a commitment toward a direction which other parties may find disagreeable. Unilateralism is a neologism which is already in common use; it was coined to be an antonym for multilateralism, which is the doctrine which asserts the benefits of participation from as many parties as possible.

The two terms together can refer to differences in foreign policy approached to international problems. When agreement by multiple parties is absolutely required—for example, in the context of international trade policies—bilateral agreements (involving two participants at a time) are usually preferred by proponents of unilateralism.

Unilateralism may be preferred in those instances when it's assumed to be the most efficient, i.e., in issues that can be solved without cooperation. However, a government may also have a principal preference for unilateralism or multilateralism, and, for instance, strive to avoid policies that cannot be realized unilaterally or alternatively to champion multilateral solutions to problems that could well have been solved unilaterally.

Typically, governments may argue that their ultimate or middle-term goals are served by a strengthening of multilateral schemes and institutions, as was many times the case during the period of the Concert of Europe.

War of the Quadruple Alliance

The War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-1720) was caused by Spanish attempts to regain territorial losses in Italy agreed in the 1713 Peace of Utrecht. Spain recaptured Sardinia in 1717 without opposition but when followed by landing on Sicily in July 1718, it led to the formation of the Quadruple Alliance on 2 August 1718, comprising Britain, France, Emperor Charles VI and the Dutch Republic.

The war was primarily conducted in Italy, with minor engagements in the Americas and Northern Europe; It was ended by the Treaty of The Hague in 1720, which restored the position prior to 1717 but with Savoy and Austria exchanging Sardinia and Sicily.

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