What Is the Concert of Europe?

The Concert of Europe was formed to maintain a balance of power and preserve the political and territorial integrity of European nations after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Founding members included the United Kingdom, Russia, Austria and Prussia. Later, France was also allowed to join.

It was established in 1815 by the members of the Quadruple Alliance that had stopped Napoleon, and the Concert of Europe did not have permanent institutions or written rules. However, in times of need, any member could propose a conference. These meetings were held at various locations, including Aix-la-Chapelle, Carlsbad, Verona, London and Berlin. Initially, the dominating statesmen were Austrian chancellor Klemens von Metternich, British foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh and Czar Alexander I of Russia. At the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, a treaty for withdrawal from occupied France was signed, and the Quadruple Alliance became the Quintuple Alliance with the addition of France. At the Congress of Verona in 1822, the allies agreed to let France intervene on behalf of Spanish royalists during a period of political turmoil in Spain. In 1830, the Concert of Europe recognized Belgian independence from the Netherlands.

In time, the British became less involved in continental issues. Economic and political rivalries weakened the alliance. A series of wars in the mid- and late-19th century caused alliances to shift. By World War I, the members of the Concert of Europe had become members of opposing coalitions, and the Concert for Europe became obsolete.