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The Concert of Europe was formulated in 1815 as a mechanism to enforce the decisions of the Congress of Vienna. Composed of the Quadruple Alliance: Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Great Britain, its main priorities were to establish a balance of power, thereby preserving the territorial status quo, and to protect "legitimate" governments. Headed by Prince Metternich of Austria, the Concert of Europe was one of the first serious attempts in modern times to establish an international society to maintain the peace. This made it a significant event in world history, even though it only lasted for a few decades.
The Concert of Europe was successful in suppressing uprisings for constitutional governments in both Spain and Italy in the respective years of 1820 and 1822. Crushing liberal forces in these two countries proved to be positive as they enhanced the Concert's integrity by proving to the world that it had the muscle to uphold its resolutions.
Britain Checks Out
The first major roadblock for the Concert was their decision to intervene in Latin American revolutions and Briatin's subsequent refusal to do so. Britain reasoned that it would lose trade profit from the Spanish if the rebellions were ended, and thus from nationalistic interest refused to cooperate. Fortuitously, the problem was solved by the United States' issue of the Monroe Doctrine in 1820, which prevented any European nation from gaining control of Latin America.
Russia began to exercise her military strength during theRusso-Turkish Wars of 1828, and in 1831 when Russia defended the Ottomans from Egyptian attack. The Ottoman Empire bountifully rewarded Russia with the Treaty of Unikar-Skelessi in 1833, which gave Russia an advantageous access to the straits between Bosporus and Dardanelles. The Concert was angered that Russia was permitted to use this area, and in an effort to peaceably solve the problem and curtail Russian expansionism, held the Straits Convention of 1841. The resolution of this meeting was that no foreign warships were to enter the Straits .
Impact of Nationalism
In the 1840s, nationalism began to assert a strong hold among many European countries, and the Concert was unable to stop the unifications of Germany and Italy. As these two countries had shown, Europeans were filled with a new spirit of "real politics" that was strongly nationalistic and not afraid to use force to accomplish their goals.
In 1853, Russia gave up any sort of a pretense at supporting an altruistic "balance of powers" and made an expansionary thrust at the Ottoman Empire. France and Britain, along with some aid from Sardinia, went to war with Russia in the flimsy hope of preserving the balance of power, however, in doing so they ended up sacrificing the peace. The outbreak of this Crimean War in 1853, signified the downfall of the Concert of Europe because the great papers were fighting against each other for national interests.
The Treaty of Paris reached in 1856, firmly centered the great burden imposed on the almost lifeless balance of power. Russia was no longer allowed to have their battleships in the Black Sea or in the Straits, which left Russia with a southern border in need of defense. Now Russia was at a disadvantage with the other powers in the Concert of Europe, and no longer motivated to uphold its goals. Communication between the powers had reached a complete stand-still; by the end of treaty negotiations, the goals of the Concert lay in shattered remnants, and thus, the Concert's function became obsolete.