Jean Godefroy - Congress of Vienna

History of Ahmet Cevdet: Vienna Congress

Biography of Ahmet Cevdet Pasha

He was one of the most important historians of the Ottoman Empire in 19.century. (1822-1895) Cevdet wrote the history of the Ottoman Empire in twenty volumes. He contributed the preparation of the Mecelle – codification of Islamic and Western law. Cevdet was not only historian but also poet, lawyer, scientist. He worked in the Ottoman bureaucracy, Education, Ministry of Commerce and Agriculture.

Cevdet wrote “Tezakir-i Cevdet” political events of the period in 1855-1865. Besides, the first grammar book “Kavaid-I Osmaniyye” is the author another important work. The most famous book is “Kısas-I Enbiya” related to all prophets and history of Islam. He is father of Fatma Aliye known the first woman novelist.


In this volume, the process of the Congress is narrated by Ahmet Cevdet. He uttered the political aims and the importance of the Congress.

He realized that this convention was not only related to the Western countries, it also related to the world. Cevdet emphases the considerable importance of this Congress in each part of the text. This Congress is principal European governing council that determines the limits of sovereignty in terms of law. European governors allied against Napoleon Bonaparte and the issues related to French Revolution.  In this Congress, the lands were occupied by Napoleon, were shared by European Powers. This objective resulted in the redrawing of the continent’s political map, establishing the boundaries of France, the Duchy of Warsaw, the Netherlands, the states of the Rhine, the German province of Saxony, and various Italian territories.

Cevdet is cognizant about the content of the meeting completely. The issue of black servant was discussed as a part of the principle of European Concert. This Congress is the first step in series of international meetings that came to be known as the Concert of Europe.

Vienna Congress

First of all, the names of everyone attending the meeting sorted Cevdet. He highlights that  this representatives are selected and experienced. Representatives Prince Meternich from Austria, Viscount Castlereagh from Britain, Karl August von Hardenberg from Prussia, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord from France are introduced precisely.

Cevdet felt humiliated because of the exception of Ottoman representative in such a important meeting. He adds the invitation sending by European Countries. However, the Ottoman Empire had some struggle inside. Also, there was no expert adequate for representing the Empire in this Congress.

The Congress inaugurates on 22 September, 1914 in Vienna. The convening honorable and prominent persons make Vienna as a “residence of Duke”. Cevdet speaks in praise of the glory of the meeting, parties, ceremony of the palace. This meeting is not impressive aspect of the matters in question but also the appearance of protocol.

The representatives met to organize the Congress on 16 September. Prince Metternich Viscount Castlereagh, Karl August von Hardenberg, Wilhelm von Humbold decided to separate the issues in two parts. One part is about the European states internal relations and the second is about occupied territories by Bonaparte. Therefore, two commissions were constituted by different representatives. The first commission is composed of the representatives of Russia, Britain, Prussia, Austria and French, the second is composed of Austria, Prussia, and Germany ( Bavaria, Württemberg ).

Cevdet is well-informed about all details about the Congress and he gives lot of information about all process.  He does not evaluate the meeting as a European internal matter the exact opposite of this, he follow all issues.

The chairman of the Congress was Prince Metternich as a house owner of the meeting. The overall number of the representatives was twenty. The main subject of the representatives was the turned situation in Europe after French Revolution. This problem could be solved by Great Power because of this small states didn’t participate to discuss the main issues. Cevdet says that these states hoped to be involve this process completely. In Congress, the ultimate objective was returning the structure of the Europe before the French Revolution in 1792. However, Cevdet believes that this project cannot be executed conveniently.

Cevdet gives information about French Revolution and the internal juncture of France. In this time, France returned to its former monarchy system. Hence, the solely responsible for the damage and destruction in Europe was Napoleon. He was in imprisonment in the island of Elbe and his sovereignty ended. In such a case, nobody could capture the territories which European countries regain in this Congress. Britain and Prussia were exposed to economical and military compulsion from the beginning of the revolution. At ones, the power passed the European hands.

Britain representative tried to organize the European system according to self-interest as a Great Power. Britain intended to prevent expansion of the Russia in Europe. However, Russia required gaining control on Poland. On the other hand, Austria purposed to gain profit in this process.

Cevdet mentiones that all representatives are worried about their own internal interests. He conceives the covered aims and struggles between European countries. Cevdet cites some bilateral agreements containing some underlying profits. Besides, The French representative was sidelined in meeting according to Cevdet consideration. European Powers were afraid of French expansion like before. However, French representative desired to be in Great Powers and he was concerned about establish the terms of agreement in French government.

There was very severe and long discussions because of the purposes of each state were different. The main problem was sharing the territories that occupied by Napoleon. Cevdet perceives that the Congress will be subject to obligation for a long time. It was obvious that the agreement between Great Powers required the new system in Europe.

Cevdet emphases that the most effective power is Britain. The representative endeavored for  chancing European map according to its own policy. Cevdet highlights this fact in this sentence;

“Vefil vakı ingiltereli eyyam ı fetret ve ihtilalde pek çok giriftar olmuş ise de bedel mafat olarak ber vechi bala pek çok yerlere malik olub dünyanın en mühim noktalarını ele geçirmiş ve Avrupa haritasını kendi politikasına muvafık surete Tevfik etmek arzusunda bulunmuş olduğu halde Rusya impnun krallarını sallayarak şöylece geri dönüvermesi kabil değildi.”

Warsaw and Saxony on the discussions in Congress ended a long period of time. Because of this reason rumors began between the people for the function of this Congress. Besides, the problem caused the hostility in the representatives. The main aim of the meeting could not be implemented for a long time. For as much as Russia approach to Warsaw and Saxony was opposed to Britain policy. The final situation was not convenient for the atmosphere of peace.

According to Cevdet prospect, the negotiations failed and the representatives didn’t struggle to resolve the problems any more. The impression of the people for meeting was negative.

Cevdet cites that the cancellation of the meeting was expected. He also says that the Powers began to prepare for the new war. In spite of word of the war was not said by people and governors, in France started to arrange supplies of the armies. Likewise Britain had assembled a place in the state in Belgium. Bavaria and Prussian troops began to move in a short time.

On the other hand, Austria commenced to garrison its armies in the state of Moravia against of the expansion of Russian military forces toward to the west. The reason of this was the information of the placement of the Russian armies in Poland.

Cevdet recovers all the process of the each country very well. He says that the footstep of the new war was begun to hear in the world.  Cevdet “Politika meraklılarından birçoğu garibel ahidde bir muharebe i umumiye vuku bulacağı fikrine zahib suretle tesviyepezir olacağı itikadında idiler.” evaluates the meeting that changed from peace to war.

As he mentioned before the struggle of the Warsav and Saxony could not be resolve. Hence, establishment of the commission to discuss this issue was decided. However, all representatives could not take part this commission like France. Russia, Britain and Austria were constituted this committee but for a while France was accepted to this commission.

Cevdet also notices other details about Vienna Congress. He mentions the parties and entertainment of the participants who were self-indulgent with criticizing of the expenditure of the amusement. Cevdet express this point like below:

Avusturya lı sarayı ile misafirlerine ikram için sarf edeceği mübaliğ-i kesireye ilaveten izhar ı ammeyi işgal için dahi bir hali masraf ihtiyar ederek teksir eylediği tiyatro ve balo gibi envaı mülaib ve mülahi kongre işlerince faideden hayli değilidi”

Cevdet states some special information about specific countries. For instance, he tells some exact features of the Britain in this part. This evaluation rests his experience in the foreign policy. He states their behavior when they brought up the issue of black slave trade like that:“Malum İngilizler bir şeyi zihinlerine korsa onun üzerine ne kadar musırr  olurlar”

This issue was discussed with the effort of Britain in this Congress. The governor had begun to agree some countries to abolish slave trade in Europe. The covered aim of Britain was to prevent other Powers getting strength with the assistance of the slaves. Firstly, Britain and Denmark had signed an agreement to hinder slave trade. Later on, in 1814 Sweden was persuaded to partake in agreement. Spanish also accepted this agreement but it needed some time.

Cevdet claims that France and Spanish were not ambitious to abolish slave trade because of the revenues of slaves in villages and other messy works. Cevdet states this policy in this sentence: “Fransa ve İsp gibi bazı düvel i Avrupa Afrika ve Amerika taraflarında idinmiş oldukları mamurelerindeki çiftlikleri zenci köleler ile idare etmekte olduklarından zenci ticaretini iptalini istemezlerdi.”

However, bringing up this issue for the European powers was not very important. Otherwise, they had to solve crucial issues like lands and sharing sovereignty in Europe. The results of all negotiations the declaration was arranged in February 8, 1815. In this declaration, the urgency of abolition of slave trade stated because of the contrary of the human nature and values. Cevdet also agrees this declaration exactly. He clarifies slaves as suffering situation for human nature. When we look at the sentences of Cevdet, the opposition of this trade can be seen:

 “Şöyle ki Afrika’da cari olan zenci ticaretine atf ı nazar ı dikkat olundukta ashab ı nisfet ve hakkaniyet ve erbab ı rüşd ve dirayet indinde öteden beru insaniyet ve ahlak ve edep i umumiyyeye muğayir bir muamele olduğu malum olub ancak ilcaet i zamaniyyeden neşet eylemiş olduğu cihetle defa ve ref olması muteassır olduğundan şimdiye dek böyle muhafaza ı kerahet ve fahşiyette müstetir olub kalmışdır.”

At the same time discussing the issue of the conditions of Belgium, Napoleon was in preparation for escaping in Island of Elbe. Cevdet mentions this attempt with describing the internal situation of France. He follows the events in Vienna and also in France. It shows his perspective to reconnect events with each other. He tells the common opinion side of Napoleon. French people again supported the sovereignty of Napoleon. Cevdet mentions him as a hero. He states the adventure of escape and hassles of the advent of Napoleon. Cevdet apprises his attempt for liberty of French people.

Bonaparte nin hürriyet bahadırlığı denmeye şayan olan cesaretine ve Fransızların derhal olan ona itaatine bütün alem mütteacip ve müttehir oldu.”

This change was occurring in France, the Congress was going on in Vienna. The representatives thought that the war is imminent so they ordered to get ready to armies in Belgium. Likewise, Bonaparte responded this attempt to go to Belgium for defending his country. In July, 18 Bonaparte’s army was defeated in this battle strictly.

As a result of this defeat, Napoleon was exiled to the island to live his remaining life. He had to live there after the second period of empire. However, this period was shorter than before. Cevdet emphases that the sovereignty of the second period was nearly one hundred days. Cevdet expresses it this way: “Bu defaki imparatorluğu yüz günden ibaret olmakla yüz günlük devlet deyu maruf olmuştur.”

After Cevdet tells the events of French imperialism, he returns to tell the negotiations of Vienna Congress. He cites the decisions of the final agreement and new system of European countries.

The Final Act, embodying all the separate treaties, was signed on 9 June 1815, Russia, Britain, Austria, German Confederation, Sweedish and Prussia decide to new European system proper for its benefits Great Powers. A German Confederation of 38 states was created from the previous 360 of the Holy Roman Empire, under the presidency of the Austrian Emperor. Only portions of the territory of Austria and Prussia were included in the Confederation

The Netherlands and the Southern Netherlands (approx. modern-day Belgium) were united in a constitutional monarchy, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, with the House of Orange-Nassau providing the king (the Eight Articles of London). To compensate for the Orange-Nassau’s loss of the Nassau lands to Prussia, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg were to form a personal union under the House of Orange-Nassau, with Luxembourg (but not the Netherlands) inside the German Confederation. Swedish Pomerania, ceded to Denmark a year earlier, was ceded to Prussia.

The neutrality of Switzerland was guaranteed. Hanover gave up the Duchy of Lauenburg to Denmark, but was enlarged by the addition of former territories of the Bishop of Münster and by the formerly Prussian East Frisia, and made a kingdom.

Most of the territorial gains of Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Nassau under the mediatizations of 1801–1806 were recognized. Bavaria also gained control of the Rhenish Palatinate and parts of the Napoleonic Duchy of Würzburg and Grand Duchy of Frankfurt. Hesse-Darmstadt, in exchange for giving up the Duchy of Westphalia to Prussia, was granted the city. Austria regained control of the Tirol and Salzburg; of the former Illyrian Provinces; of Tarnopol district (from Russia); received Lombardy-Venetia in Italy and Dubrovnik in Dalmatia. Former Austrian territory in Southwest Germany remained under the control of Württemberg and Baden, and the Austrian Netherlands were also not recovered

Another main issue slave trade was condemned according to British profits. Also Freedom of navigation was guaranteed for many rivers, notably the Rhine and the Danube. This article was also related to the naval forces of Britain.

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