THE Vienna settlement aimed at preserving peace and restoring "legitimate" rulers. France was not to have been penalised at all, save in returning to her 1792 boundaries, but after Napoleon's Hundred Days she had also to pay a small indemnity and restore art treasures stolen from Prussia. As France had fought most of the campaigns since 1793 on foreign soil and made foreign populations support her armies, she escaped very lightly and her national debts did not become very heavy.
The Allies reunited the Netherlands under a Dutch king, so that France should be held in check in the north by a strong state, while Prussia took over the Rhine frontier to hold against the eternal aggressor. The Netherlandic kingdom, however, was composed of incompatible partners. The Dutch were largely Protestant and Dutch-speaking and had a heavy national debt, while the Flemings and Walloons of the ex-Austrian Netherlands were Catholic, Flemish- or French-speaking, free from debt, and very pro-French in feeling.
Prussia was given half Saxony and her old possessions, or most of them, in Poland. Russia took most of the rest, including Finland. Sweden, for supporting the Allies, received Norway from Denmark, which had supported Napoleon. Austria gained, besides part of Poland, Lombardy and Venice; and Austrian princes were given small Italian dukedoms. The Pope and the King of Naples again misgoverned their old dominions, and the unity and efficient government which Italy had enjoyed under Napoleon, gave way to disunion and maladministration. Germany, which had also been unified by Napoleon as the Confederation of the Rhine, became a Bund or League, a little better organised, perhaps, than the old Holy Roman Empire had been. There were to be thirty-nine German states as against the former three hundred and sixty-five, and Austria was to preside over a system of government, whose powers in Germany corresponded to those of the League of Nations, as established in 1919, in Europe. Prussia was to play second fiddle, though it was already time for her to take Austria's place as the chief German power.
The Tsar persuaded most of the powers (except the Prince Regent of Great Britain and the Pope) to join a Holy Alliance, whose members should act towards each other and their subjects on Christian principles-that is, in the spirit of enlightened despotism recovering from over-indulgence in war. He was especially anxious that they should repress revolution, which seemed to be the great cause of war. They assented in mild scorn or in stupid good faith. More important was Metternich's plan of a permanent Concert of Europe, or a Congress System. Congresses were to be held every year or two years to discuss current affairs. Possible disputes could be talked over and talked out. It was a system which would give scope to his special gifts for intrigue and persuasion. This interesting anticipation of the League of Nations was launched; Europe settled down to its new order, at least recognising the principle of international co-operation, which had been so long disregarded.