Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna

Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna

by David King
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Overview

Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna by David King

“Reads like a novel. A fast-paced page-turner, it has everything: sex, wit, humor, and adventures. But it is an impressively researched and important story.”
—David Fromkin, author of Europe’s Last Summer


Vienna, 1814 is an evocative and brilliantly researched account of the most audacious and extravagant peace conference in modern European history. With the feared Napoleon Bonaparte presumably defeated and exiled to the small island of Elba, heads of some 216 states gathered in Vienna to begin piecing together the ruins of his toppled empire. Major questions loomed: What would be done with France? How were the newly liberated territories to be divided? What type of restitution would be offered to families of the deceased? But this unprecedented gathering of kings, dignitaries, and diplomatic leaders unfurled a seemingly endless stream of personal vendettas, long-simmering feuds, and romantic entanglements that threatened to undermine the crucial work at hand, even as their hard-fought policy decisions shaped the destiny of Europe and led to the longest sustained peace the continent would ever see.

Beyond the diplomatic wrangling, however, the Congress of Vienna served as a backdrop for the most spectacular Vanity Fair of its time. Highlighted by such celebrated figures as the elegant but incredibly vain Prince Metternich of Austria, the unflappable and devious Prince Talleyrand of France, and the volatile Tsar Alexander of Russia, as well as appearances by Ludwig van Beethoven and Emilia Bigottini, the sheer star power of the Vienna congress outshone nearly everything else in the public eye.

An early incarnation of the cult of celebrity, the congress devolved into a series of debauched parties that continually delayed the progress of peace, until word arrived that Napoleon had escaped, abruptly halting the revelry and shrouding the continent in panic once again.

Vienna, 1814 beautifully illuminates the intricate social and political intrigue of this history-defining congress–a glorified party that seemingly valued frivolity over substance but nonetheless managed to drastically reconfigure Europe’s balance of power and usher in the modern age.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307407368
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 03/11/2008
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 635,421
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

A Fulbright scholar with a master’s degree from Cambridge University, DAVID KING is the author of the acclaimed Finding Atlantis. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his wife and children.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
tchaffee More than 1 year ago
An excellent account of an important time period! Well researched and documented.
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DuctorCE More than 1 year ago
"The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different." Aldous Huxley Do not be confused by this book about the Congress of Vienna in 1814. It reads like a novel, but it is serious history as the almost 90 pages of "Notes & Sources" can testify. The style is easy: perhaps a little simplistic in places, but none-the-less an excellent read. If your politics lean ever so slightly to the left, David King's book will drive you to distraction. It describes in detail how the privileged few, carved up Europe after Napoleon's abdication. It demonstrates the blatant greed and narcissism of Kings, Emperors and their Ministers. We learn about the rich man's wars, but not too much about the poor man's fight. King takes us deeply into the chess game that was European politics, and we can see the mind-set that set Europe ablaze in 1914. Well-behaved women rarely make history. Vienna 1814 confirms that in spades. I never cease to be amazed by man's inability to keep his level of concentration above his navel for more that limited periods. The future of Europe was never allowed to interfere with the latest sexual conquest. A 100 years later, nothing had changed. During cabinet meetings discussing the war in France, H.H.Asquith (Prime Minister), wrote love letters to Venitia Stanley. They were not very effective. She got engaged to one of his staff - but omitted to mention it. There were however two notable exceptions to this broad condemnation of the 'Powers that be'; and they were both English. The first was Robert Stewart - Lord Castlereagh, foreign secretary under Lord Liverpool, and the Duke of Wellington. Castlereagh did his best to get some sense out of the Congress, and was fired for his trouble. The Iron Duke took over and was fortunate that Napoleon skipped Elba and he was able to charge off to Waterloo and win the ultimate battle. The frightening thing about this book is that nothing has changed. The Congress of Vienna was dominated by an aggressive Russia hell-bent on expansion. Replace Tsar Alexander with Mr Putin, and it is apparent that we have not progressed very far in the last 194 years. Rich man's war, poor man's fight - 'twas ever thus.
Marek More than 1 year ago
Well researched, highly readable account of the Congress of Vienna. I was vagely familiar with this conference and the major players, but the profiles provided in this book of Talleyrand, Czar Alexander, Metternich, Napoleon (who was in exile on Elba), and others were clear and interesting. Unknown to me were the long term effects of this summit of royalty and diplomats, on the future of Europe and the world. The conference went beyond a normal 'divide the spoils' mentality after the first defeat of Napoleon and touched on such modern(for the time) topics as, abolition of slavery, freedom of the press, freedom of religion.
Rousseau More than 1 year ago
If you are interested in the intrigues and concerns of all the monarchies at Vienna following the exile of Napoleon to Elba this is the book for you. A close up look at the plots and ploys of all the powers involved including Republican France. All the main players are here. Their goals and desires...including the role played by important women of the day. You will read of the Congress itself and the heavy burden placed upon Austria who hosted hundreds and hundreds of people, feeding them day after day with incredible meals...to the point the Austrian treasury thought they would bankrupt themselves with the expense. If you enjoy a close look at life and politics in this particular period you will not be unhappy with this work. I, infact, enjoyed it so much I purchased a copy for a friend. You will gain an insight into the mindset of Napoleion's contemporaries and the concerns about a Republican France and why they considered restoring the monarchy to France. You will not be displeased with this work.
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Kk. ^_^
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fox walks in