Tanssiva kokous ja Suomen kohtalo // A Dancing Congress and the Faith of Finland

Welcome to Vienna, Austria, a city whose place in the history of Europe and the World is hard to overestimate. Therefore it is no wonder that in 1814 – after the Napoleonic Wars – this was the site for negotiations for returning the powers in Europe to the way they used to be. These discussions also strongly influenced the history of Finland. The Napoleonic Wars had put the powers of Europe into turmoil. Lands had changed owners several times and the ownership of some areas was uncertain to everybody. In order to restore order and authority in 1814 Francis I, the Emperor of Austria, invited the most important monarchs and other statesmen to a congress in Vienna to sort out this mess. The meeting was attended by delegations from Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Spain as well as France. The main goal of the congress was to restore the power balance of the Europe back to the state it wes before 1789 as well as to create a barrier zone around France so it could no longer attack other major powers. In the end the Congress of Vienna was more of a collection of informal meetings between representatives than a coherent assembly. The meeting also earned a nickname “The Dancing Congress” since its days mainly consisted of lengthy meals, balls, concerts and hunting trips with the negotiations themselves moving along sluggishly. Despite this the congress produced several notable treaties that would permanently change Europe. Some of these accomplishments were a European wide condemnation on
of the slave trade, declaring the Rhine and the Danube as international waterways, formation of the precursor of a unified Germany, German Confederation, and guarantee on the Swiss neutrality. The most important decisions for Finland, however, concerned the deals made between Russia and Sweden. During the Napoleonic Wars Russia had conquered the area of modern Finland from Sweden in a conflict that we now call the Finnish War. In the Treaty of Fredrikshamn [Hamina] in 1809 Sweden and Russia had agreed that Sweden would drop all of her claims to Finland and that Finland would remain under Russian rule. This was later confirmed first in a bilateral meeting of the two in Turku in 1812, and these treaties were recognized Europe-wide in the Congress of Vienna. Most of the decisions of the congress, however, were very short-lived and only about a hundred years after these negotiations most of the powerful families of Europe, who had joined to negotiations here, had lost their crown with the rise of new ideas such as democracy and nationalism. However Finland was left under Russian rule, which eventually led to the Independence of Finland. Perhaps someone could make a whole video about how Napoleon indirectly caused the Finnish independence…

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