Age of Metternich  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Age of Metternich refers to the period of European politics in between the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 and the Revolutions of 1848. After the Congress of Vienna, the European powers collectively agreed to maintain the balance of power. This partially consisted of helping to suppress any internal strife that occurred in any European Empire. This period was marked by the success of the old regimes in putting down popular uprisings.

The "Age of Metternich" takes its name from the Austrian statesman, Prince Klemens von Metternich, who dominated Austrian and German politics during the era and best exemplified the reactionary attitude of the age.

The Age of Metternich came to a dramatic close as the desire for self-determination finally boiled over in the Revolutions of 1848, when rebellions occurred in almost every major European city. Apart from France (where the uprisings succeeded in overthrowing the government), the European powers were generally successful in suppressing the uprising. However, the governments also had to make important concessions (including the dismissal of Metternich himself) that were to lead to the rise of nationalism and the unification of Germany and Italy, as well as to the slow decline of the old Habsburg-dominated Austrian Empire.

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