In addition to the conservative ruling class of Europe, conservative ideas appealed to peasants, who wanted to preserve traditional ways.
Conservatives of the early 1800s wanted to return to the way things had been before 1789. They had benefited under the old order. They wanted to restore royal families to the thrones they had lost when Napoleon swept across Europe. They supported a social hierarchy in which lower classes respected and obeyed their social superiors.
Conservatives also backed an established church—Catholic in Austria and southern Europe, Protestant in northern Europe, and Eastern Orthodox in eastern Europe.
Conservatives believed that talk about natural rights and constitutional government could lead only to chaos, as in France in 1789. If change had to come, they argued, it must come slowly. Conservatives felt that their own interest in peace and stability benefited everyone. Conservative leaders like Metternich opposed freedom of the press, which could spread revolutionary ideas. Metternich urged monarchs to crush protests in their own lands and help others to douse the flames of rebellion wherever they erupted.
A determined Prince Metternich stands firm, with an angry crowd behind him. Who does the crowd represent, and what do they want?
What was the primary goal of conservatives in the Concert of Europe?
Challenging the conservatives at every turn were the liberals. Liberals embraced the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Their goals, and the rising tide of nationalism, ignited revolts across Europe.
Because liberals spoke mostly for the bourgeoisie, or middle class, their ideas are sometimes called “bourgeois liberalism.” Liberals included business owners, bankers, and lawyers, as well as politicians, newspaper editors, writers, and others who helped to shape public opinion.
Liberals wanted governments to be based on written constitutions and separation of powers. They opposed the old notion of the divine right of monarchs and the tradition of a ruling aristocracy. Liberals called for rulers elected by the people and responsible to them. Thus, most liberals favored a republican form of government over a monarchy, or at least wanted the monarch to be limited by a constitution.
After the Congress of Vienna, liberals repeatedly protested and rebelled against the conservative order. How do the liberal protesters in this image differ in appearance from the image of the conservative leader Metternich in the previous text?
Liberals defended natural rights such as liberty and equality. They stood for property rights and freedom of religion. Liberals of the early 1800s saw the role of government as limited to protecting these basic rights.