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Metternich: Strategist and Visionary

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A compelling new biography that recasts the most important European statesman of the first half of the nineteenth century, famous for his alleged archconservatism, as a friend of realpolitik and reform, pursuing international peace.

Metternich has a reputation as the epitome of reactionary conservatism. Historians treat him as the archenemy of progress, a ruthless aristocrat who used his power as the dominant European statesman of the first half of the nineteenth century to stifle liberalism, suppress national independence, and oppose the dreams of social change that inspired the revolutionaries of 1848. Wolfram Siemann paints a fundamentally new image of the man who shaped Europe for over four decades. He reveals Metternich as more modern and his career much more forward-looking than we have ever recognized.

Clemens von Metternich emerged from the horrors of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, Siemann shows, committed above all to the preservation of peace. That often required him, as the Austrian Empire’s foreign minister and chancellor, to back authority. He was, as Henry Kissinger has observed, the father of realpolitik. But short of compromising on his overarching goal Metternich aimed to accommodate liberalism and nationalism as much as possible. Siemann draws on previously unexamined archives to bring this multilayered and dazzling man to life. We meet him as a tradition-conscious imperial count, an early industrial entrepreneur, an admirer of Britain’s liberal constitution, a failing reformer in a fragile multiethnic state, and a man prone to sometimes scandalous relations with glamorous women.

Hailed on its German publication as a masterpiece of historical writing, Metternich will endure as an essential guide to nineteenth-century Europe, indispensable for understanding the forces of revolution, reaction, and moderation that shaped the modern world.

Edition Number:
Siemann Wolfram
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Wolfram Siemann, one of Germany’s leading historians of the nineteenth century, is Professor Emeritus for Modern and Contemporary History at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

  • A Note on the Frontispiece
  • Translator’s Note
  • Preface to the English-Language Edition
  • Introduction
    • A Life in Seven Stages
    • Metternich’s Biographers across the Generations
    • The Risks and Limitations of Srbik’s Biography of Metternich
  • 1. Origins: Family Ties and the Rise of the Metternichs
    • The Ministerial Metternichs
    • The Lords of Königswart
    • The Barons of Winneburg and Beilstein
    • The Counts as Members of the Imperial Diet
    • The Highest Floor: The Princes in the Bel Étage
  • 2. Metternich’s Generation: Ancien Régime and Enlightenment, 1773–1792
    • Parental Home, Childhood, and Education
    • Studies in Strasbourg and Mainz: Formation of a Political and Historical View of the World
  • 3. A Double Crisis: Empire and Revolution, 1789–1801
    • Fin de Siècle: The Imperial Elections of 1790 and 1792
    • 1789: The Rupture of the French Revolution
    • Brussels and the Austrian Netherlands
    • The Journey to Great Britain: The Final Piece to the Young Metternich’s Political Universe
    • Collapse and Flight in 1794
    • A New Beginning: Vienna, Königswart, and Austerlitz
    • Time of Transition: The Diplomat in Waiting, 1796–1801
  • 4. Between Peace and War: Life as an Ambassador, 1801–1806
    • Dresden, 1801–1803: The Minister at His “Observation Post”
    • Berlin, 1803–1806: The Ambassador on the Grand Diplomatic Stage
    • The Peace of Pressburg and the Beginning of the End for the Holy Roman Empire
  • 5. World War: Outset and Intensification, 1806–1812
    • Ambassador in Paris, 1806–1809: In the “Lion’s Den”
    • Ambassador on Borrowed Time and Napoleon’s Captive under House Arrest
    • The Interim Minister: Sidelined by Napoleon
    • The Minister in Charge of the New Direction: A Defensive Strategy in Domestic Policy and Matchmaking Abroad, 1809–1810
    • The Foreign Minister on Tour: 181 Days with Napoleon
    • Domestic and International Consolidation, 1810–1812
  • 6. World War: Climax and Crisis, 1813
    • Metternich Discreetly Assembles the Forces
    • The Tactical Path to an “Armed Mediation”
    • Austria Joins the War: The Quadruple Alliance
  • 7. World War: Catastrophe and Resolution, 1814
    • The Final Battle against Napoleon and the Prefiguration of the Vienna Order
    • Metternich’s Second Voyage to England and the Preparations for the Congress of Vienna
    • Metternich, the War, and Violence in Politics
  • 8. The End of an Era and a New Beginning for Europe: The Congress of Vienna, 1814–1815
    • The Initial Situation: The Experience of War and a Legal Vacuum
    • The “Cosmopolitans”: Instigating a New Law Based on Imperial Legal Orders
    • A Master Plan? Metternich between Realpolitik, Strategy, and Vision
    • The Congress on the Brink: Crises Test the Principle of Balance
    • The End the Holy Roman Empire: The Habsburg Empire and the German Question
    • “Germany—United by Federal Ties”: Metternich’s Part in the Foundation of the German Confederation
    • “The Congress Dances”—Especially in Metternich’s House
  • 9. Connoisseur of Women and Head of the Entail
    • Iconography and Historical Specificity of Love
    • Love and Politics: At the Courts of Dresden, Berlin, and Paris
    • Wilhelmine von Sagan and the Confusion of Feelings
    • Dorothea von Lieven: “The Nearness of the Beloved”?
    • Wives and Children: Family Ties and Tribulations
  • 10. The Construction of a New Beginning: Reform and Reconstruction, 1815—1818
    • Metternich’s Ideas and Policies on the Nationality Question: The Case of Italy
    • Journeys to Italy, a Happy, Ungovernable Country
    • Metternich’s Plan for a Reorganization of the Monarchy
    • Habsburg and the German Confederation: An Affirmation for Metternich and Prussia, 1817—1818
  • 11. Defensive Security Policies: Averting Threats under the Vienna System, 1815—1829
    • Napoleon’s “Hundred Days”: Activating the European Security System
    • Fault Lines in the Societies of Europe after 1815
    • Metternich and British Security Policies, 1817–1820: Pretext or Defense against a Revolution?
    • The Radicalization of the German National Movement: The Wartburg Festival and Sand’s Assassination of Kotzebue
    • Metternich’s Hesitant Reactions: The Press, the Professors, and the Students
    • From Teplitz to Carlsbad: The Conferences on Domestic Security, 1819–1820
    • Metternich’s Suggestions for the Development and Extension of the German Federal Constitution: The Final Act of the German Confederation, May 15, 1820
    • Terrorism and Security Policies as a European Problem: England, France, and Metternich
    • A Double-Edged Sword of Intervention and the Concert of Europe
    • The Concert of Europe and the Defensive Security Policies of the 1820s
  • 12. The Economist: Metternich as a Capitalist with a Social Conscience
    • Managing Financial Crises
    • Metternich as Agrarian Economist: Farmer, Vintner, Forester
    • Factory Owner and Industrial Entrepreneur
  • 13. The Spring of Nations amid Poverty, 1830–1847
    • The July Revolution in 1830 and Metternich’s International Crisis Management
    • A Revolution in Communication, the Spring of Nations, State Security
    • Tolerated Revolutions after 1830
    • From the Orient to the Rhine: The Concert of the Major Powers as a Challenge
    • Metternich and Customs Policies
  • 14. The Organization of Rule: Power Centers, Networks, Interests, Intrigues
    • The Master of the State Chancellery
    • Constrained by Emperor Franz’s “Personal Regime”
    • Emperor Franz’s Legacy: A System “Headed by a Half-Wit Who Represents the Crown”
    • Crisis Instead of Reform: Metternich versus Kolowrat
    • Lobbyism, the Power Politics of the Imperial Family, the Estates
  • 15. Revolution, Escape, Exile, 1848–1851
    • Revolution 1848: “Sheet Lightning,” Outbreak, and Escape
    • Metternich’s English Self: In Exile, 1848–1849
    • Brussels 1849–1851: Metternich’s Look Back at a Liberal Economic Policy That Was Not to Be
  • 16. At the Observatory: Twilight Years in Vienna, 1851–1859
  • Epilogue: Metternich as a Postmodern Character in Early Modernity
  • Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Illustration Credits
  • Index
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