When the Congress Wasn’t Dancing

Michael Glover describes how Vienna in 1815 was the scene of endless entertainment for European rulers and their delegations.

The Congress of Vienna, called to settle the frontiers of Europe after the wars which followed the French revolution, settLed the political geography of Europe for half a century but, in fact, it scarcely met. It was summoned for October 1st, 1814, and the delegates duly travelled to Vienna but it only met in full session on June 9th, 1815, nine days before Waterloo was fought, to sign the final treaties which had been laboriously worked out by meetings of the statesmen of the great powers and by hard-working committees of diplomats and civil servants.

The great majority of the members of delegations had eight months of idleness, and Vienna was put under great strain to provide entertainment for them. A horrifying load of hospitality fell on the Emperor Francis. He was not by nature a sociable man but he found himself obliged to entertain the Tsar and the Tsarina, the King of Prussia, three other Kings, two Crown Princes, three Grand Duchesses, a number of princes of various bloods royal, including for a time the Duke of Cumberland, and thirty-two minor German royalties.

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