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Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Adam Zamoyski

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Kurzbeschreibung

4. Februar 2008
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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'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

Synopsis

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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15 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The End of the Napoleonic Era 16. November 2007
Von P.K. Ryan - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter 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.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen This is an exciting well researched history 20. August 2007
Von James V. Maclean - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter 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.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Highly researched and finely written 30. August 2007
Von John E. Drury - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
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.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen detailed coverage of complex wheeling-and-dealing 8. Oktober 2007
Von Graham - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
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
5.0 von 5 Sternen A magnificent achievement 7. März 2008
Von Ralph Blumenau - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Adam Zamoyski says in his introduction (p.xiv) that the literature on the subject is scanty, elusive and one-sided. Noone can say this after having read this magnificent, scholarly and entertainingly written book. 570 pages on essentially three years of diplomacy could have been stodgy, but the writing is extremely lucid, and the minutiae of day-by-day negotiations (sometimes, as over the Saxon question, very repetitive, and just occasionally, as over Swiss affairs, also a little tedious) are seamlessly interspersed with vivid accounts of the personalities involved, of their moods and of the hedonistic and frivolous ways in which they spent their time between negotiations (much of the latter information culled from the reports of Metternich's secret surveillance teams).

Fascinating details include:

1. The ease with which politicians in those days were able to move from employment by one court to employment by another: von Stein from the Prussian to the Russian Court; Hardenberg from the Hanoverian to the Prussian Court (and in office there during Prussia's annexation of Hanover); Gentz from being a civil servant in Berlin to being an agent of the British government and then to taking service in Austria.

2. The intense suspicion between all of Napoleon's opponents. Each constantly feared that others might come to terms with Napoleon at their expense: after all, there had been a long history before Napoleon's invasion of Russia when countries had made just such deals with Napoleon, whose victories had made it possible over and over again for him to play one of his enemies off against another. Even within delegations there were animosities: initially Britain was represented at negotiations by no fewer than three envoys who so obviously detested each other that they were simply ignored by the other diplomats. The English, not well versed in continental politics, were universally considered gauche in manner and women's dress; but eventually Castlereagh took over, and after a while he became one of the key players, and one of the more sensible ones at that.

At one time the allies nearly went to war with each other - but the extraordinary thing is that while the threat of war hung over the Congress, the rival delegates met at balls and other spectacular entertainments every evening.

3. The open and promiscuous randiness of the principals is truly astonishing, as is the readiness of aristocratic and royal ladies to move from bed to bed. So many statesmen had affaires during the Congress: Metternich, who, while he had been ambassador at Napoleon's court, had slept with two of Napoleon's sisters, now fell in love with the Princess of Sagan and wrote her letters as remarkable for their love-struck clichés as for his measureless conceit; Humboldt sought out fat lower-class girls; women threw themselves at the ever-willing Alexander I. There are marvellous chapters (esp. 18, 19 and 21) on what life was like during the Congress of Vienna, how kings away from their courts let their hair down, and how the aura of majesty was dispelled.

4. The immature and headstrong nature of Alexander, who, confident of his huge military might, frequently took unilateral action to the dismay of the other powers. The confidence and skill of Talleyrand. The shameless greediness of Prussia, which exceeded the considerable greed of the other participants.

5. A great deal hung on the moods and personal characters of the principal characters, and this account is certainly a challenge to the structuralist view of history. A powerful final chapter shows how these individuals, backward rather than forward looking, managed to clamp a reactionary settlement on the continent that, so far from producing a stable Europe for a hundred years (a view that Henry Kissinger propounded in the 1950s and 1960s), would create during that time many rebellions, civil and international wars with a heavy cost in human lives.
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