14.1 Revolutions Sweep Europe

At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the powerful rulers of Europe sought to suppress revolutionary ideas, preserve their own power, and set up a lasting peace. Prince Clemens von Metternich, a commanding force at the congress, warned of the dangers of the “revolutionary seed” spread by the French Revolution and Napoleon. Revolutionary ideas, he warned, not only threatened Europe's monarchs, but also undermined the values of the old social order.

Painting of a man in a cravat, high collared jacket and a sash with a medallion.

Prince Metternich served as the foreign minister of Austria from 1809 to 1848. To suppress revolutionary ideas, he urged conservatives to censor the press and crush protests in their countries.


  • Compare the goals of conservatives and liberals in 19th century Europe.
  • Identify the influence of liberty, equality, and nationalism on political revolutions.
  • Describe the causes and results of the revolutions of 1830 and 1848.

Key Terms

  • ideology
  • universal manhood suffrage
  • autonomy
  • radical
  • Louis Philippe
  • recession
  • Napoleon III
  • Louis Kossuth
  • absolutism

A Clash of Ideologies

Passions are let loose…to overthrow everything that society respects as the basis of its existence: religion, public morality, laws, customs, rights, and duties, all are attacked, confounded [defeated], overthrown, or called in question.

—Prince Clemens von Metternich

Unlike the monarchs attending the Congress of Vienna, other voices loudly opposed Metternich's views. In the decades after 1815, people with opposing ideologies, or systems of thought and belief, plunged Europe into turmoil.

Conservatives Favor Old Order

The Congress of Vienna was a victory for the conservative forces, which included monarchs and their officials, noble landowners, and church leaders. To preserve the old political and social order, European monarchs worked together to ensure stability and prevent revolution. This arrangement is sometimes called the Concert of Europe.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments