The idea of a Concert of Europe was suggested by the Austrian Chancellor, Kaunitz, in 1971 and it found expression in the Treaty of Chaumont which was made in March 1814, by Great Britain, Russia, Prussia and Austria.
The same four Powers tried at the Congress of Vienna to effect “a regeneration of the political system of Europe.” The Congress of Vienna sealed the triumph of reaction and restored the pre-revolutionary conditions as far as possible.
However, the fear of revolution was so great that the European Powers could not rest contented until they had devised some means to secure the permanence of Vienna Settlement.
With that object in view, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia entered on 20 November 1815 into the Quadruple Alliance for the maintenance of the treaties with France and for the consolidation “of the intimate relations now uniting the four sovereigns for the welfare of the world.”
The Powers also agreed to hold periodical meetings “either under the immediate auspices of sovereigns or through their ministers.” Those meetings were to be “devoted to the grand interests they have in common, and to the discussion of measures which shall be judged to be most salutary for the repose and prosperity of the nations and for the maintenance of peace of Europe.” It was in this way that the Concert of Europe was formed.
This system of diplomacy by conferences was one of the most interesting experiments of 19th century. The period that followed the Quadruple Alliance is known as the Era of Congresses. On many occasions, the members of the European Concert met at different places to discuss questions that needed collective deliberations.
In these Congresses, the dominating personality was the Austrian Chancellor, Metternich Under his leadership and guidance, the Quadruple Alliance practically established a dictatorship of the Powers. However, the Concert of Europe broke up in 1823 after holding four conferences at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, at Troppau in 1820, at Laibach in 1821, and at Verona in 1822.
1. Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818):
The first Congress meets in 1818 at Aix-la-Chapelle where Napoleon had once put forward his own scheme for the welfare of Europe. Regarding this Congress, Metternich is said to have remarked that he had “never seen a prettier little Congress.” This Congress marked the zenith of the system by which the Allied Powers endeavored to establish a joint control over the affairs of all continental States. The Congress was recognized as the Supreme Council of Europe and accordingly it entertained appeals in all kinds of cases.
The most important question before the Congress was that of France and happily a compromise was arrived at on that point. As France had paid off the whole of war indemnity, it was decided to withdraw the Allied Army of Occupation from the French soil and to admit France into the Concert of Europe. It was in this way that the Quadruple Alliance was transformed into the Quintuple Alliance which was called by Metternich as “moral pentarchy.”
There was a difference of opinion between Russia on the one hand and England and Austria on the other regarding the basis on which France was to be admitted into the Quadruple Alliance. Russia proposed to follow the principles as embodied in the Holy Alliance. However, the view of England and Austria was that France should be admitted by means of a treaty alliance with the four Powers and that was done.
The Quadruple Alliance was renewed separately with a view to meeting any danger that might arise from France. However, to please Czar Alexander, a high-sounding statement was issued regarding the aims and objects of the moral pentarchy. It was intended to observe strictly the rights of the people, protect the arts of peace increase the prosperity of State, awaken sentiments of religion and morality and set an example of justice and concord.
The Congress also called upon the King of Sweden to explain why he had ignored the treaty rights with regard to Norway and Denmark. The ruler of Monaco was ordered to improve the administrative system of his country.
The Elector of Hesse petitioned to the Congress that he be allowed to take up the title of king, but it was refused. The Congress also dealt with the question of the disputed succession to the Duchy of Baden. The position of the Jewish citizens in Austria and Russia was also discussed.
In spite of the above achievements of the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle certain differences arose among the Powers and those differences increased with the passage of time. Those were due to the divergent interests and mutual jealousy of the Powers concerned.
As regards the question of the rebellious colonies of Spain in South America, there was going on a lot of trade between England and those colonies from the time of the French Revolution. As Great Britain had invested a lot of money in those colonies, Casdereagh, the British Foreign Minister, refused to agree to any proposal either to bring them back under Spain or even to mediate between them and Spain unless British interests in those colonies were safeguarded beforehand.
In order to suppress slave trade, Great Britain suggested that the European States should exercise a mutual right of search for slaves. However, the suggestion was not accepted on account of the jealousy of the naval strength of Great Britain. No country was prepared to tolerate British interference with her commerce. The result was that no effective, action could be taken against slavery.
With a view to checking the menace of the Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean, Russia suggested that an international fleet, representing the various powers, should be stationed in the Mediterranean. However Great Britain rejected the proposal. She was not prepared to allow a Russian fleet to be stationed in the Mediterranean. Her interests were secure because the Barbary Pirates respected the Union Jack. The result was that the menace of the Barbary Pirates continued.
It has been claimed that the real significance of the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle lies deeper. It was for the first time that Great Britain came to know of the real intentions of those who had set up the Concert of Europe. On this occasion, Czar Alexander proposed that a declaration should be signed by all the Powers guaranteeing the existing territorial boundaries and also the rights of sovereign princes.
As this proposal was in accordance with the views of Metternich, it was accepted by Austria. Prussia also followed suit. It is maintained that a universal guarantee of the status quo would have resulted in the systematic suppression of nationalism, liberalism and constitutionalism in Europe. The declaration would have acted as a crusade against the progressive forces of Europe and thereby proved fatal to her supremacy in the world.
There would have been no unification of Italy and Germany. It would have been impossible to separate Belgium from Holland in spite of the grievances of the former. Norway and Sweden would have continued to remain united. Greece, Rumania, Bulgaria and Serbia would have not have got their independence. Poland would have remained under foreign yoke for an indefinite period. Peace would have been secured in Europe at the price of liberty and independence.
However the credit for the failure of the scheme must go to Great Britain who opposed tooth and nail the move of Russia, Austria, and Prussia. The question was whether the Powers had any right to intervene in the internal affairs of a State merely on the ground that the status quo had been upset in a particular country.
Whatever the ostensible object of the Concert of Europe, its real object was to control the external and internal affairs of the European States. Great Britain was opposed to such a policy and counteracted the new move of the other Powers. The British stand was that she was not prepared to accept the general principle of international control. However, she was prepared to consider separately the question of intervention whenever an emergency arose in any country.
Great Britain rejected the idea that the collective force of the Allies was “to be prostituted to support the established order without any consideration of the extent to which it was abused.” According to Castlereagh, “The Alliance was never intended as a union for the governments of the world, or for the superintendence of the internal affairs of other States.” Its purpose was not to suppress revolutionary movements in every nook and comer of Europe irrespective of their merits.
The principle of intervention in the internal affairs of other states was, however, accepted in 1820 by the Congress of Troppau in spite of the protests of Great Britain. It was the application of this principle which enabled Austria to suppress revolts in Naples and Piedmont in 1821. France also interfered in Spain in 1823.
Kissinger points out that although at the Congress of Aix-la-Chappelle, there appeared to be outward harmony,
“the incompatibility of the various motivations was becoming manifest. With France integrated into the concert of powers, the political contest was finally over and with it disappeared the only motive which could make British participation in Continental affairs acceptable domestically. As Britain increasingly hedged its commitments, a vicious circle was set in motion the stronger Britain’s isolationist tendencies, the more Metternich, aware of Austria’s material weakness, came to rely on his most effective weapon of restraining the Tsar the appeal to Alexander’s moral fervour. But the more Metternich flattered the Tsar’s exaltation, the more difficult it became for Castlereagh to engage in any joint action. As the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle ended, both were eager to obscure this, however Metternich, because his bargaining position towards Russia depended on the illusion of his British option; Castlereagh, because of his European vision, which he still hoped he could make prevail against the obtuseness of his Cabinet and, to him, the petty quest for safety of his Allies. Yet he must have sensed that the time for illusions was coming to an end. For, at this moment Metternich engaged in act which left little doubt that the next battle would be fought on a plane where Castlereagh could not follow, whatever his personal sympathies. He submitted two memoranda of the King of Prussia advising him on the administrative structure of his State and urging the impossibility of fulfilling the promise, made during the passionate days of 1813, of granting a constitution to his subjects. The precise arguments used by Metternich are less interesting than this first step which indicated Metternich’s intention to function as the conservative conscience of Europe.”
2. Congress of Troppau (1820):
The second Congress met at Troppau in 1820. Revolutions had broken out in Naples, Spain and Portugal and the people had forced their kings to give them liberal constitutions. The great Powers condemned the revolutions but they differed with regard to the steps to be taken to meet the situation. Russia offered armed assistance to the Spanish king to suppress the revolt.
However, Metternich held her back because his hatred of revolution was balanced by his fear of Russian aggrandizement. Naples was considered to be a more urgent problem than others and consequently it was this revolt that occupied the statesmen assembled at Troppau. It was recognized by all the Powers that Austria had a special interest in Italy and consequently she should be allowed to suppress the revolt in Naples.
According to Castlereagh, Austria could interfere in Naples on two grounds? She had great interests at stake in Italy. The stability of Lombardy and Venetia was endangered by the revolt and these were within the Austrian Empire itself. The same was the case with Parma, Modena and Tusoany which, were ruled by the members of the Hapsburg family. Moreover, there was a treaty between the King of Naples and Austria by which the latter was bound to come to the assistance of Naples.
However, Metternich was not satisfied with the mere recognition of Austria’s right to interfere in the internal affairs of Italy. In addition to a narrow legal justification, he also wanted a moral justification for such interference. Castlereagh, the British Foreign Minister, was not prepared for that. His view was that no State was justified in interfering in the internal affairs of any other State except on the ground of a treaty between the two countries.
Moreover, the revolt at Naples was outside the orbit of Great Britain, and consequently there was no justification for Great Britain to interfere in that territory. Castlereagh was not prepared to say that all popular insurrections or revolutions originating from below were illegitimate and against the public law of Europe.
However Metternich was backed by Prussia and Russia. At the Congress of Troppau. Czar Alexander declared himself to be a convert of Metternich. Formerly, Metternich was always afraid of Russian designs because Russian agents had spread all over Europe to encourage revolutionary movements.
The conversion of Alexander, therefore, brought great relief to Metternich. The change in Alexander was due to the murder of Kotzebue and the mutiny of the Imperial Guards at Petrograd Czar Alexander declared his conversion to Metternich in these words. “So we are at one, Prince, and it is to you that we owe it. You have correctly judged the state of affairs. I deplore the waste of time which we must try to repair. I am here without any fixed ideas, without any plan; but I bring you a firm and unalterable resolution.
It is for your emperor to use it as he wills. Tell me what you desire and what you wish me to do, and I will do it.” The result was that the Quintuple Alliance was divided into two parts. On the one side were the reactionary governments of Russia, Austria and Prussia and on the other were Great Britain and France.
The Congress also passed the famous Protocol of Troppau which justified the intervention of one State in the internal affairs of other States. The Protocol provided. “States which have undergone a change of government due to revolution the results of which threaten other States, ipso facto cease to be members of the European Alliance, and remain excluded from it until their situation gives guarantee for legal order and stability. If, owing to such alterations, immediate danger threatens other States, the Powers bind themselves, by peaceful means, or if need be by arms, to bring back the guilty States into the bosom of the Great Alliance.”
Great Britain, however, refused to be a party to the above declaration. Castlereagh objected to the attempt “to reduce to an abstract rule of conduct possible cases of interference in the internal affairs of independent States.” His contention was that the Protocol was bound to be considered as a league of sovereigns against their subjects and there was every possibility of the revolutionary tendencies getting an impetus on account of it.
To quote him, “Would the great Powers of Europe be prepared to admit the principle that their territories were to be thrown open to each other’s approach upon cases of assumed necessity or expediency of which not the party receiving, but the party administering it, was to be the judge!” The British Government did not join in the police system which was bound to “lead to the creating of a species of general government in Europe, with a superintending Directory distractive of all correct notions of internal sovereign authority.”
According to Kissinger, “The Congress of Troppau marks the high point of Metternich’s diplomatic skill. Unwilling or unable to adapt Austria to the predominant trends of the period, confronted by the prospect of a battle against nationalism and liberalism, he succeeded in making it a European rather than an Austrian contest and thus avoided symbolizing the incongruity of Austria’s domestic structure. Faced with the danger of a resurgent France restoring its Italian position by means of a family compact and an appeal to constitutionalism, he managed to isolate France and to reduce her to impotence. The role of the French representatives at Troppau could not have been more miserable. By appearing as the most conciliatory of the plenipotentiaries, Metternich lured them into one trap after another.”
3. Congress of Laibach (1821):
The third Congress was held at Laibach. Austria was allowed to send her troops to Naples to suppress the revolt there. This was easily done by the Austrian troops. There had also occurred a revolt in Piedmont in the north of Italy. That revolt was also put down by the Austrian troops on their way back home.
4. Congress of Verona (1822):
The fourth and last Congress was held at Verona in 1822. There were two questions before the Congress, one of which was solved. The Greeks revolted against Turkey and thus the Greek question came up for consideration before the Congress of Verona.
Czar Alexander wanted to take isolated action in the same way as Austria had done in the case of Naples and Piedmont. However, Austria was Russia’s rival in the Balkans and Metternich was determined to prevent Russian intervention in Greek affairs.
Metternich was also supported by Great Britain who was opposed to Russian interference in the Balkans. Under these circumstances the Greek question was not taken up by the Congress of Verona and the Spanish question alone remained before it.
There was a revolt in Spain in 1820 and the King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, was forced to abolish the Inquisition and proclaim a constitution. However, from the very beginning, he acted in a clever way and appealed to the King of France for help against his subjects. This appeal of one Bourbon to another Bourbon looked like the revival of the old Bourbon family pact and no wonder England felt uneasy.
At the Congress of Verona, France announced her intention to intervene in Spain and asked for the moral support of the Powers. Austria Russia and Prussia backed France but Great Britain opposed the proposal. The Duke of Wellington, the British representative at Verona, was instructed by Canning to insist upon “a rigid abstinence from any interference in the internal affairs of Spain.”
The result was that when the British point of view regarding non-intervention was not accepted, Great Britain withdrew from the Congress and thus the era of Congress ended. Canning, the new Foreign Minister of England, was happy at the idea of the break-up of the Concert of Europe. He said. “The issue of Verona split the one and indivisible Alliance into three parts as distinct as the constitutions of England, France and Muscovy.” Again, “Things are getting back to a wholesome state again. Every nation for itself and God for us all. The time for Aeroepagus, and the like of that is gone by.”
5. Causes of failure of Concert:
The failure of the Concert of Europe was due to many causes. The principle of intervention in the internal affairs of the States divided the Powers into two camps. Great Britain opposed this principle in 1818. But in spite of that the Protocol of Troppau was made in 1820.
Again in 1822, Great Britain opposed the intervention of France in Spain and despite her protests France had her way and she did intervene in Spain. Her action was backed by Russia, Prussia and Austria. Great Britain could not put up with this attitude of the other Powers and she withdrew from the Congress of Verona.
The era of Congresses collapsed with the withdrawal of Great Britain. The attitude of the British Government can be understood from the following extract from a letter written by Canning to the British Ambassador to Verona in 1823: “England is under no obligation to interfere or to assist in interfering in the internal affairs of independent nations. The specific engagement to interfere in France is an exception so studiously particularized as to prove the rule.
The rule I take to be is that our engagements have reference wholly to the state of territorial possession settled at the Peace, to the state of affairs between nation and nation; not (with the single exception above stated) to the affairs of any nation within itself”.
Again, “What is the influence we have had in the counsels of Alliance? We protested at Laibach, we remonstrated at Verona; our protest was treated as waste paper; our remonstrances mingled with the air. Our influence, if it is to be maintained abroad, must be secure in the sources of strength at home; and the sources of that strength are in the sympathy between the people and the government; in the union of the public sentiment with the public counsels; in the reciprocal confidence and co-operation of the House of Commons and the Crown.”
Autocracy and constitutionalism cannot go together. No wonder, England with her parliamentary institutions found herself unable to pull on with the autocratic Powers of Europe. The Concert of Europe degenerated into a clique for the preservation of autocracy and the suppression of democracy and nationalism in every shape and form.
Mutual jealousies arose among the Powers from the very beginning. In the Congress of Aix-la-chapelle, the Powers disagreed on the question of slave trade and the suppression of the Barbary Pirates. They also disagreed in 1820 on the question of intervention.
There was no internal harmony among the Powers. Merely an outward show of co-operation was maintained for some time. However, such a state of affairs could not last long and the matters were precipitated by the intervention of France in Spain.
It was also stated that the Concert of Europe was a product of the Napoleonic Wars and its object was to provide against a common enemy-France. However, when the French danger was over, the unity among the Allies was gone and every Power decided to deal individually with her diplomacy.
The view of Ketelbey is that the era of Congresses went to pieces on many rocks, chiefly on Britain’s withdrawal and the mutual jealousies of the Great Powers. The British assertion of the principle of non-intervention was partly a return to a policy of isolation and partly a claim for national independence which was not possible to reconcile with a policy of concerted action.
It was a protest against the autocracy of the Eastern Powers and a stand against the potential dictatorship of the Mediterranean system. It is doubtful whether England ever held herself committed to the idea of a common European policy. Her statesmen had not foreseen the logical implications of it as contained in the Protocol of Troppau.
The Quadruple Alliance was to Castlereagh only the renewal of the Treaty of Chaumont directed against France. The concert of Europe broke up on the divergent interests of the powers the irreconcilable differences of constitutional outlook and the absence of any agreed principles of political faith. The powers were agreed that peace must be maintained but they were not agreed on the point what threatened peace.
They were ready to defend common interests, but they had none else except the fear of France. They could not decide whether it was better to submerge their individual interests in collective action or to indulge them on the basis of separate spheres of influence The result was that the concert of Europe for the preservation of peace dwindled to a clique of the Three Gentlemen of Verona for the preservation of Autocracy and collective action was given up for the older principle of national interest and ad hoc alliance.
It was good that the Concert of Europe collapsed. Had that continued, the nationalist and liberal forces in Europe would have got a severe setback. Great Britain rendered a great service to the cause of nationalism and constitutionalism by first protesting and later leaving the Concert.
According to David Thomson, “In so far as the Congress system meant that the Great Powers of Europe could usually meet together from time to time to resolve disputes among them and to preserve a certain balance of power in the continent, it met with the partial success and helps to keep the peace. At successive Congresses, such questions as the abolition of slavery, navigation of the Danube and arbitration of disputes were considered. But in so far as it came to serve the purposes of the Holy Alliance and of at least some partners of the Quadruple Alliance, it was a disturbing force in Europe. The principle of joint intervention, generally accepted in reference to the ex-enemy State of France became an excuse for a universal meddlesomeness that chimed with the real interests neither of Metternich nor of Britain. Each Power in turn was prompted to intervene: Austria in Piedmont and Naples, France in Spain and Greece, Britain in Portugal and Greece, Russia in Greece. Britain’s alarmed by the interventions of reactionary monarchs and by the ambiguous aims of Russia in Turkey, found herself committed to the paradoxical policy of ‘intervening to prevent intervention.’ Even the long and tense achievement of’ holding the ring’ during the Greek revolution broke down in the end, and meanwhile brought terrible losses to the Greeks. The protest of the Monroe Doctrine against the practice of intervention for or against existing regimes helped to force upon public attention this fundamental issue of international relationships. Neither the forces of conservatism nor those of nationalism and liberalism derived unmitigated benefits from it. Intervention favoured monarchs in Spain and Naples, liberal rebels in Portugal and Greece; but neither dynastic monarchy nor national independence stood to gain in the long run from accepting the doctrine that external powers might property intervene in the internal affairs of States. It was discovered by experience that the Congress system could mean generalizing, and so magnifying every dispute; it meant altering governments everywhere whenever there was an insurrection anywhere. By making peace indivisible, it made peace more fragile for the rival interests of the major Powers were implicated in each revolutionary crisis. The ‘Concert of Europe’ viewed by the conservative powers as a dam against revolution, was thought of by Britain rather as a sluice gate, allowing for a measured flow of national and liberal powers.”
According to Grant and Temperley, “It is not fair, however, to dismiss this first serious experiment in international government without pointing out some of its merits. The idea of personal conference and mutual confidence between rulers was excellent. Castlereagh was sincere in promoting the reunions, and so was Metternich, up to a point. But Alexander went too far and too fast for both. After 1820 the Congress system became in effect a trade union of kings for suppressing the liberties of peoples. To the continuance of that system, parliamentary England could not consent and parliamentary France only shared in it with reluctance. The smaller Powers, who did not share in it at all, were naturally opposed to it. In the thirties there were European Congresses again which did much’ good. But, though the Great Powers still took the lead, there was no collective attempt to revive the doctrines of absolutism, to condemn revolution as such, or to proclaim a general policy of intervention by force. Parliamentary England and parliamentary France were, therefore, able to enter freely into conference with the three despotic monarchies of East Europe. The Congress which settled the independence of Belgium is a good example of how Great Powers can meet without embarrassment and effect lasting good because each respected the institutions and difficulties of the other.”
A reference may be made to the following remarks of Canning:
“I have called a new world into existence to redress the balance of the old.” This was his reply to the French invasion of Spain which he could not check. England was opposed to the general principle of intervention in the internal affairs of other European States. She opposed the move of Russia, Austria and Prussia in 1818 to enforce this principle in European politics.
However, in spite of the protests of England, the Protocol of Troppau was adopted in 1820. By this, the European States were allowed to interfere in the internal affairs of their neighbours if there was a revolt in them and that revolt threatened their own security. It was in pursuance of that policy that Austria intervened in Naples and Piedmont in 1821.
At the Congress of Verona in 1822, Great Britain opposed the intervention of any country in Spain, but the French troops entered Spain and restored its king to absolute powers. It was evident that England had failed so far as intervention in Spain was concerned. When this happened. Canning made it clear that he would not allow the re-conquest of the Spanish colonies in South America, and thereby make up the balance in America for the loss in Europe.
The policy of Canning to create a new world to redress the balance of the old was not the result of any sudden inspiration. It was a deliberate policy which was long contemplated and tenaciously followed. In 1790, Pitt had told Miranda that the emancipation of Spanish America was a matter which would engage the attention of every Minister of England.
In 1808, the separation of the Spanish colonies in South America under British protection was an idea present to the minds of both Canning and Castlereagh. This very thought engaged the attention of Canning from his first day at the Foreign Office until it was accomplished. In 1822, Canning wrote thus to Duke of Wellington who represented Great Britain in the Congress of Verona.
“Every day convinces me more and more that in the present state of the Peninsula, and in the present state of this country, the American questions are out of all proportion more important to us than the European ones and that, if we do not seize and turn them to our advantage in time, we shall rue the loss of an opportunity never to be recovered.”
It cannot be denied that Spain had found great difficulty in governing her American colonies. In 1817, Spain sold to the U.S.A. the territory of Florida for 5 million dollars. Things did not improve even after that. These were anarchy in South America and consequently Englishmen suffered a great deal on account of attacks on their ships. England failed to get any compensation for these.
In 1823, Canning appointed Consuls to the Spanish colonies for the protection of British trade. The British Government made it clear to France that she would not allow the reconquest of the Spanish colonies by a Power other than Spain, and she knew that Spain alone could not reconquer them.
On the 1 January 1825, the Powers were informed that Great Britain had recognised the independence of Buenos Aires, Colombia and Mexico. The Powers protested against this action of Great Britain but they could do practically nothing. Canning continued his policy in spite of the annoyance of the Great Powers of Europe.
Cunning found a powerful ally in the U.S.A. In December 1823, President Monroe enunciated his famous Monroe Doctrine. He declared that “any interference on the part of the Great Powers of Europe for the purpose of oppressing or controlling the destiny of the Spanish American States which had declared their independence would be dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States, and would be considered as the manifestation of the unfriendly disposition towards them.
” Canning wrote thus in 1824.”I have very little doubt that the President was encouraged to make his declaration about the South American States by his knowledge of our sentiments. The effect of the ultra-liberalism of our Yankee co-operators on the ultra-despotism of our Aix-la-Chapelle laws gives us just the balance that I wanted.”
Again, he wrote thus next year.”The thing is done….An act which will make a change in the face of the world almost as great as of the discovery of the Continent now set free. The Allies will fret; but they will venture no serious remonstrance. France will forget; but it will be with a view to hastening after our example as regards South America.” The action of Great Britain and United States was decisive. By 1830, the Spanish empire in South America had ceased to exist and consequently the following independent republics came into existence Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Rio de la Plata or Buenos Aires.
It is evident from the above that while Canning failed in Europe, he succeeded in America. He could not stop the intervention of France in Spain, but he was able to stop the intervention of Spam or any other Power in Spanish America and thereby establish the independence of the Spanish colonies in America. Canning was right in saying that he had brought a new world into existence in South America and thereby redressed the balance which had been upset on account of the combination of Austria, Russia, Prussia and France.