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Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 4. Februar 2008

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  • Taschenbuch: 416 Seiten
  • Verlag: Harpercollins Publishers (4. Februar 2008)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0007203063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007203062
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13 x 4,2 x 19,7 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 10.356 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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'Deeply researched, elegantly written, gleaming with the political and sexual depravity of the Congress that decided the fate of Europe, Zamoyski's "Rites of Peace" is outstanding - a delicious, triumphant feast of a book.' Daily Mail 'Impressively detailed diplomatic history; it deals with the fate of nations and dynasties and the doings of emperors, kings and princes. The author keeps up a strong narrative drive, guiding the reader through the tortuously involved negotiations of the Congress.' The Economist 'Zamoyski's...account of the labyrinthine twists of diplomacy is both masterly and exhaustive...I closed the book full of admiration for its author.' Sunday Times


Following on from his epic '1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow', bestselling author Adam Zamoyski has written the dramatic story of the Congress of Vienna. In the wake of his disastrous Russian campaign of 1812, Napoleon's imperious grip on Europe began to weaken, raising the question of how the Continent was to be reconstructed after his defeat. There were many who dreamed of a peace to end all wars, in which the interests of peoples as well as those of rulers would be taken into account. But what followed was an unseemly and at times brutal scramble for territory by the most powerful states, in which countries were traded as if they had been private and their inhabitants counted like cattle. The results, fixed at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, not only laid the foundations of the European world we know; it put in place a social order and a security system that lie at the root of many of the problems which dog the world today.Although the defining moments took place in Vienna, and the principle players included Tsar Alexander I of Russia, the Austrian Chancellor Metternich, the Duke of Wellington and the French master of diplomacy Talleyrand, as well as Napoleon himself, the accepted view of the gathering of statesmen reordering the Continent in elegant salons is a false one.

Many of the crucial questions were decided on the battlefield or in squalid roadside cottages amid the vagaries of war. And the proceedings in Vienna itself were not as decorous as is usually represented. Drawing on a wide range of first-hand sources in six languages, which include not only official documents, private letters, diaries and first-hand accounts, but also the reports of police spies and informers, Adam Zamoyski gets below the thin veneer of courtliness and reveals that the new Europe was forged by men in thrall to fear, greed and lust, in an atmosphere of moral depravity in which sexual favours were traded as readily as provinces and the 'souls' who inhabited them. He has created a chilling account, full of menace as well as frivolity.

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5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Irulan Corrino TOP 500 REZENSENT am 26. September 2014
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Derzeit erscheinen viele neue Bücher über den Wiener Kongress, dessen Beginn sich in diesem Herbst zum zweihundertsten Mal jährt. Ein etwas älteres, schon 2007 veröffentlichtes Buch droht in dieser Fülle der Neuerscheinungen unterzugehen. Mit "Rites of Peace" knüpft der polnisch-amerikanische Historiker Adam Zamoyski unmittelbar an sein Buch über Napoleons gescheiterten Russlandfeldzug von 1812 an. "Rites of Peace" beginnt mit der hastigen Rückkehr des Kaisers nach Paris und schlägt dann einen Bogen von den militärischen Auseinandersetzungen des Jahres 1813 über die Völkerschlacht bei Leipzig, den alliierten Einmarsch nach Frankreich und Napoleons Abdankung bis hin zu den mehrmonatigen Verhandlungen in Wien. Die Aufgabe des Kongresses bestand darin, Europa nach 25 Jahren Revolution und Krieg eine stabile Friedensordnung zu geben. Seine Endphase wurde überschattet von Napoleons Rückkehr und den Hundert Tagen. Mit Napoleons Sturz und dem Wiener Kongress hat Zamoyski abermals ein Thema gewählt, das sich hervorragend für eine episch breite Darstellung eignet, bietet es doch sowohl eine Fülle dramatischer Ereignisse als auch ein Ensemble von faszinierenden Persönlichkeiten. Zamoyski kann in diesem Buch erneut alle seine Stärken als Historiker und Erzähler zur Geltung bringen, vor allem seine bewundernswerte Quellenkenntnis und sein Vermögen, sich in die historischen Akteure hineinzuversetzen und ihr Denken und Handeln zu erklären.Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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The End of the Napoleonic Era 16. November 2007
Von P.K. Ryan - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Adam Zamoyski's `Rites of Peace' is a thorough examination of the fall of Napoleon's empire and the subsequent reconstruction of Europe by the victorious allied powers of Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia. The Congress of Vienna, as this delegation was dubbed, was a watershed moment in European history, says Zamoyski, and one that has been largely neglected by historians ever since. Replete with extravagant soirées, hunting trips, duels, and scandalous sexual liaisons, this eight-month long negotiation served as a meeting ground for a virtual who's who of European nobility. Most prominent and influential were Talleyrand, Metternich, Tsar Alexander, Frederick William III, Castlereagh, Wellington, Humboldt, and an array of monarchs, princes, and aristocrats that are too numerous to name. Ostensibly, the goal was to bring stability and justice to the entire continent, and to a certain degree this was successful. But inevitably, all parties had their own agenda and thus Zamoyski's story is one full of intrigue and political maneuvering. The results were mixed, but the effects of the Congress of Vienna would impact the whole of Europe for some time to come.

First, I have to give credit where credit is due. Zamoyski's bibliography is huge and he clearly has done a massive amount of research for this book. This is definitely one of the most thorough and detailed histories that I have read. The negative side of this is that it is a bit too detailed, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading about all the debauchery and scandalous escapades, but Zamoyski tends to wander off into inane details that only serve to temporarily bore the reader. With that said, Zamoyski nicely utilizes many original sources, such as personal letters from Metternich to his many lovers, which successfully convey how the principal actors viewed their mission, as well as their fellow delegates. I definitely finished the book with a good feeling for the personalities and intentions of all those involved. Overall, except for a bit too much fluff, I would say this is definitely a groundbreaking and worthwhile read that shouldn't be missed. Four stars.
11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
This is an exciting well researched history 20. August 2007
Von James V. Maclean - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
One of the most neglected and least understood periods of the early 19th Century was the peace settlement that ending the Napoleonic wars, the Congress of Vienna. Over the years there have been few books in English on the Congress of Vienna; the most notable was The Congress of Vienna a Study in Allied Unity 1812-1822, by Harold Nicolson, a solid but rather dry work on the subject. Rites of Peace by Adam Zamoyski, is a fast pace, well written book on this fascinating topic.
So much of what we thought we knew about the congress seems to be incorrect, Alexander l takes on the same characteristic of megalomania that Napoleon suffered from between 1811-1814. Metternich, is portrayed as being far more interested in his love life then fate of Europe and so forth. A great book on a difficult and confusing topic.
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Highly researched and finely written 30. August 2007
Von Jedrury - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Zamoyski carefully marshals his facts through the body of the book saving his opinions and historical observations until the fascinating final chapter. While the detail is tedious at times [love affairs, table settings and womens' dressing gowns), the book shines with scholarship and detail. Talleyrand fascinates in his brilliance, durability and negotiating finesse representing la belle France' for its role as convict and heavy. Castlereagh also shines until the end of the Congress and then to read about his final tragic end saddens. The focus tho is really on Metternich and Alexander of Russia both who come off as fully alive characters in a stirring drama of diplomacy occurring two hundred years ago. A worthy and informative read.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
detailed coverage of complex wheeling-and-dealing 8. Oktober 2007
Von Graham - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is centered on the Congress of Vienna, but it also covers the broader diplomatic process at the end of the Napoleonic wars, including the first Peace of Paris, the Hundred Days and the final introduction of the Congress System.

Zamoyski covers both the diplomatic negotiations and the seemingly endless flirtations and amours surrounding them. He is particularly fortunate in covering the Congress of Vienna, as Metternich had thoughtfully arranged extensive spy coverage and was also intercepting everyone's mail, thereby providing a vast horde of lurid trivia for future historians. At times the endless romantic details become distracting, but they also help set the mood for the congress and remind us of the many distractions facing the diplomats. Also, in an era of absolute monarchs, personal issues could matter a great deal.

By comparison with the 1919 Versailles Settlement (see for example Margaret Macmillan's "Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World") I was struck by the relative reasonableness and amicability of the initial Peace of Paris. Zamoyski portrays the initial allied entry to Paris as almost a grand family reunion. Yes, it was an occupying army, but everyone was glad the long wars were finally over and eager to revisit friends, relations, or old mistresses. Rather than looting, the invaders indulged in massive shopping sprees. The new Louvre art collection was deemed a masterpiece which should not be disrupted. In a similar spirit, the allies saw the need for a generous peace with France, which would remove most of Napoleon's acquisitions, but which recognized that France needed to be part of a new European balance of power and which thus aimed to avoid antagonizing or humiliating her.

Since France's fate was apparently resolved in the Peace of Paris, the Congress of Vienna was focused on the endless bickering between the victors over how to divide the rest of Europe, especially Poland and Germany. Zamoyski shows how France, in the shape of Talleyrand, was able to exploit its supposedly neutral role at Vienna to once again become a major diplomatic force by acting as a representative of the smaller powers against the attempted dominance of the Big Four (Russia, Britain, Prussia and Austria).

Despite endless dancing, festivals, romances and bickering, the Congress did slowly work its way through a series of awkward and reluctant horse trades of territory between the powers. Unlike Versailles, strikingly little thought was given to the wishes of the inhabitants of the affected territories. If the King of Prussia needed an extra 10,000 souls to balance his account, neither he nor anyone else seemed particularly concerned about which nationality or creed he acquired.

Then, famously, the Congress was disrupted by the 100 Days of Napoleon's return from Elba. This unfortunately did lead to significantly harsher terms for France, including further territorial losses and the dismantlement of most of the Louvre collections. But, as presented by Zamoyski, it made little difference to the overall shape of the European Settlement.

Zamoyski writes well and managed to keep me engaged through a complex set of wheeling and dealing, both diplomatic and romantic. He does sometime indulge a little too much in small details, but he also helps remind us of how much individuals, with their own whims and foibles, matter in shaping international politics.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
"L'Elephant, C'est Un Question Polonaise" 11. Oktober 2008
Von M. W. Stone - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
We were overdue for a readable history of this period, and Zamoyski (bar the odd quibble) has done a creditable job.

In particular, he brings out well the crucial importance of the Hundred Days, not for what might have happened - Napoleon's prospects were never very bright - but for what did, in giving the victors a badly needed cold shower. In the Summer of 1814 - barely three months after Napoleon's despatch to Elba - disputes over Saxony and Poland had brought them to the brink of war - with Britain and Austria ready to ally with France against their fellows. With Napoleon's defeat, all thought themselves "home and dry" and free to quarrel among themselves. The Deus ex machina - or "Diabolus ex Elba"? - delivered the mother of all wakeup calls, ramming home how fragile their victory still was, and concentrating their minds in a Johnsonian sense.

And not just temporarily. The Holy Alliance, formed to preserve their victory, would endure for decades. Britain dropped out early - being an offshore island she could afford to - as did France after 1830, but not until the Crimean War did its core - Austria, Russia, Prussia - fall apart, and it was a further decade (1866) before one of those three actually fought another. Even that war - the work of another "wild card" of even lower probability than Napoleon - remained a unique "exception that proves the rule" until 1914. For Bismarck, having got what he wanted, promptly formed a "Dreikaiserbund" which was essentially the Holy Alliance by another name. All this was Napoleon's work, and specifically the result of his return in 1815. His admirers often speak of how he would have "united Europe" had he won, overlooking the degree to which he did unite a much of it for a remarkably long time. It recalls the old "united Ireland" joke that the Irish can unite only under British rule - because that unites them against the Brits. Napoleon did a similar job of uniting Europeans against himself.

Some nitpicks. Zamoyski seems to take Napoleon's 1815 embrace of constitutional government seriously, though a plainer case of "The Devil was sick, the Devil a monk would be" is surely hard to find. And the last chapter spoils it somewhat, with his grumbles about the settlement often sounding plaintive and almost childish. He speaks of "Siberian chain gangs" as if these weren't a normal part of Russian history, or could have been made less common by some change in the Vienna settlement. More generally, complaining about their disregard of nationalism, he talks as if the peacemakers had a "tabula rasa", to draw on as they pleased, after himself spending the earlier and better parts of this work showing they didn't. Take Poland. The Tsar had it and was set on keeping it. Condemning the 1815 arrangements leaves only two alternatives, to close with the Tsar over the Poland/Saxony deal - little change, just slightly more Poles in Russia and less in Prussia - or else return to the carve-up of 1795, which from a "national" viewpoint is even worse. Which does he prefer? Ditto (pretty much) for Germany and Italy. The Kings of Sicily and Sardinia, however "imbecilic", were on the winning side, so could hardly be dispossessed, and if the Tsar kept Poland, Austria and Prussia could only be compensated westwards, ie in Italy and north Germany respectively. South Germany wasn't available, as its rulers had deserted Napoleon in good time, so were also in the winning camp. In short, most of the continent was already "spoken for".

Zamoyski grumbles about the arbitrary transfer of "souls" between rulers, as undermining traditional loyalties. But given how much of that Napoleon had done, especially in Germany, it wasn't easily avoidable. Bar Venice and Genoa, extinguished nearly two decades before and not restored, the worst examples were Norway and Saxony, but those who stick too long to the losing side have always risked loss of territory. And given the straggling and quite un-ethnographic borders of Napoleon's France in 1812, the total number of people under foreign rule may have actually gone down.

One can't help feeling Zamoyski is just miffed that his own country didn't fare better. It recalls the international school which set an essay on elephants and got -

Englishman - how to hunt an elephant
American - economic importance of the elephant
Frenchman - sex life of the elephant.
German - military importance of the elephant
Pole - the elephant and the Polish question.

Yet, at the risk of blasphemy, did even Poland do so badly? My impression is that through the 18C her "independence" was a joke, and that from the Northern War to the Seven Years, she was routinely trampled over and plundered by foreign armies in pursuing their own conflicts. Was this better for her people than the nasty but brief ordeals of 1830-1 and 1863-4?

Zamoyski is rather sniffy about the "century of peace" after 1815. Perhaps, as a Pole, it matters less to him, but the wars between Britain and France, which since 1689 (1066?) had been events as regular as the World Cup (and British victories celebrated like Olympic golds) were certainly ended. There was still a rebellion or three, but even counting these, the two biggest - China's Taiping Rebellion and America's Civil War - were in areas not covered by the settlement. Europe got off light. And were the 1830 Polish and Belgian revolts really "major wars"?

As even Zamoyski acknowledges, the peacemakers had an enormous task, and it is far from clear that different decisions would have caused fewer long-term problems. As King Albert of the Belgians told a critic of the Versailles Treaty. "They did what they could". Perhaps an even fairer comment on the 1815 than the 1919 settlement.

Still, with all its faults, an excellent book. Enjoy it.
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