Second Peace of Paris Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The Second Peace of Paris ended the Napoleonic Wars and established the framework for European politics for the next century.

Summary of Event

The Second Peace of Paris was the final peace treaty made between France and the victorious allies after the final defeat of Napoleon I. It was part of the general settlement made by the Congress of Vienna (1815-1816) and can be understood only in relation to that conference. The participants were the same at both conferences, but the Second Peace of Paris was made after the settlement at Vienna. The Second Peace of Paris also was linked to negotiations leading to the Quadruple Alliance Quadruple Alliance;creation of of Great Britain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia. Both agreements were signed November 20, 1815. Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815);Second Peace of Paris Paris, Peace of (1815) Paris, Treaty of (1815) Congress of Vienna (1814-1815);and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] [kw]Second Peace of Paris (Nov. 20, 1815) [kw]Peace of Paris, Second (Nov. 20, 1815) [kw]Paris, Second Peace of (Nov. 20, 1815) Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815);Second Peace of Paris Paris, Peace of (1815) Paris, Treaty of (1815) Congress of Vienna (1814-1815);and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] [g]France;Nov. 20, 1815: Second Peace of Paris[0830] [c]Diplomacy and international relations;Nov. 20, 1815: Second Peace of Paris[0830] [c]Wars, uprisings, and civil unrest;Nov. 20, 1815: Second Peace of Paris[0830] Alexander I [p]Alexander I[Alexander 01];and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] Gentz, Friedrich Hardenberg, Karl von Metternich [p]Metternich;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] Plessis, Armand-Emmanuel du Castlereagh, Viscount [p]Castlereagh, Viscount;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] Talleyrand [p]Talleyrand;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] Wellington, duke of [p]Wellington, duke of;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)]

The first Peace of Paris Paris, First Peace of (1814) consisted of seven treaties signed on May 30, 1814, by the French government of the restored Bourbon king, Louis XVIII, and each of the seven belligerent powers: Great Britain, Austria, Russia, Prussia, Spain, Sweden, and Portugal. Basically generous, this treaty restored French boundaries as they had existed in 1792 with some added frontier districts and enclaves including some 450,000 people and 150 square miles. France also regained most of its colonies, except Tobago, Tobago St. Lucia St. Lucia[Saint Lucia] , and Mauritius, Mauritius which had been seized by the British. French posts in India India;and French Empire[French Empire] French Empire;and India[India] were restored, though without sovereign rights, and France promised to abolish the slave trade in French French Empire;and slave trade[Slave trade] Slave trade;and French Empire[French Empire] colonies within five years. No indemnity was imposed, and France was even allowed to keep works of art taken by Napoleon from other countries. This treaty also united Flanders Flanders with Holland and Genoa with Piedmont as buffer states against possible French expansion.

While the Congress of Vienna debated the territorial divisions of Europe, however, Napoleon Napoleon I [p]Napoleon I[Napoleon 01];escape from Elba returned to France from Elba on March 1, 1815. The French army and people rallied to his cause, and the restored Bourbon king, Louis XVIII, again fled into exile. Napoleon was soundly defeated at Waterloo Napoleon I [p]Napoleon I[Napoleon 01];Battle of Waterloo on June 18 by an allied army under the command of the duke of Wellington, ably assisted by a Prussian army Army, Prussian under General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. Napoleon’s second period of rule, the Hundred Days, Napoleon I [p]Napoleon I[Napoleon 01];Hundred Days came to an end. He surrendered to the British, who imprisoned him first in England, and then on the island of St. Helena in the south Atlantic.

Napoleon’s return resulted in a new and harsher peace treaty, since the French nation had broken the First Peace of Paris and again waged war. The fact that only the British and Prussian armies were responsible for defeating Napoleon at Waterloo and were the first to occupy France gave these two nations added bargaining power. Louis XVIII Louis XVIII again was restored to the French throne and Talleyrand Talleyrand [p]Talleyrand;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] was made prime minister of France, but the French were largely excluded from the negotiations taking place at Vienna. The smaller powers played no significant role.

Negotiations continued for four months because Prussia desired a harsh treaty. Prussian pillaging and misconduct of Prussian soldiers also led to friction and objections from Wellington Wellington, duke of [p]Wellington, duke of;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] and the British. Some of the smaller German states and the Netherlands supported the Prussian demands. Although Prince Karl von Hardenberg, Hardenberg, Karl von chancellor of Prussia, favored moderation, the Prussian generals largely overrode his influence. The Prussian military sought a large indemnity and the acquisition of Alsace Lorraine Alsace , Lorraine, French Flanders, Flanders and Savoy, Savoy as well as the return of works of art stolen by Napoleon.

Metternich, Metternich [p]Metternich;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] the Austrian minister of foreign affairs, followed a somewhat hesitant course. He had to tread carefully because of hostile Austrian popular opinion. He also may have been willing to shift his position in order to gain territorial advantages for Austria. Metternich’s appointee as secretary of the Congress of Vienna, Friedrich Gentz Gentz, Friedrich , favored a moderate peace. He closely associated himself with Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, Castlereagh, Viscount [p]Castlereagh, Viscount;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] foreign secretary of Great Britain, and was basically sympathetic with his policies. Czar Alexander I Alexander I [p]Alexander I[Alexander 01];and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] of Russia remained firmly opposed to territorial changes but favored a moderate indemnity.

Castlereagh and Wellington Wellington, duke of [p]Wellington, duke of;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] essentially agreed with Alexander but were under pressure from the press, public opinion, the prince regent, the prime minister, and the British cabinet to punish France severely. There was considerable agitation for punishing French military and political leaders who joined Napoleon after his return from Elba. The arrest and execution of Michel Ney Ney, Michel tended to quiet public outcry in Great Britain for punishment.

Napoleon boarding the Bellerophon, which took him to his final exile, on the South Atlantic Island of St. Helena.

(The S. S. McClure Company)

Castlereagh, Castlereagh, Viscount [p]Castlereagh, Viscount;and Treaty of Paris 1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] however, convinced Lord Liverpool and his cabinet that a policy of “security, not revenge” was preferable. He pointed out that a vengeful peace would lead to French attempts to regain lost territory, and that France should be kept strong and friendly as a possible future ally. As security against possible French expansion he proposed temporary occupation of France, minor frontier adjustments, and dismantling certain French forts. He also proposed a moderate indemnity and the returning of works of art. Metternich basically agreed, and Alexander Alexander I [p]Alexander I[Alexander 01];and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] Metternich [p]Metternich;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] was persuaded without undue difficulty to accept this compromise. The Prussians found themselves alone and gave way. Talleyrand, Talleyrand [p]Talleyrand;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] however, would not accept this arrangement, and resigned. Louis XVIII replaced him with Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis Plessis, Armand-Emmanuel du , duc de Richelieu, who signed the treaty after obtaining a few minor concessions.

Territorial provisions of the Second Treaty of Paris were based on French boundaries as they existed in 1790. Compared to the earlier treaty, this took away a small area of the Netherlands frontier, gave part of the Saar in Germany (including the forts of Saarlouis and Landau) to Prussia, Prussia;and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)] and annexed part of Savoy Savoy to Piedmont. The fortress of Huningen near Basel was demolished. Colonial provisions remained as in the first treaty. A F–700 million indemnity was awarded to the allies, and F–240 million was awarded to private creditors. France also had to support the Allied Army of Occupation in northern France under Wellington. Some art treasures taken by Napoleon were returned to their original owners.

Significance

Although the Second Peace of Paris was harsher to France than the first treaty had been, it remained generous. The indemnity and occupation payments were less than may have been justified, for France had suffered little devastation from the Napoleonic Wars. French boundaries of 1790 were essentially restored, and France lost little land and even retained some minor acquisitions.

The lenience shown to France perhaps was the last flowering of eighteenth century balance of power diplomacy as opposed to the emotional and vengeful settlements in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) and later. The wisdom of the settlement was attested by the fact that France did not attempt to retaliate and soon was admitted to the Congress of Europe. The “Congress” system, the Quadruple Alliance, Quadruple Alliance and the Holy Alliance of Prussia, Austria, and Russia successfully prevented major European conflict until the Crimean War of 1854. With the decay of the Quadruple Alliance, progressive tensions arising in large part from the Italian and German wars of unification Europe led to a divisive pattern of alliances that culminated in World War I.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. Concisely summarizes European diplomacy of the Second Treaty of Paris and thereafter.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______. A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh, and the Problems of Peace, 1815-1822. Reprint. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973. First published in 1957, Kissinger’s work summarizes diplomatic maneuvering between Napoleon’s final defeat until the Congress of Vienna.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Nicolson, Sir Harold. The Congress of Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity, 1812-1822. New York: Viking Press, 1961. Emphasizes policy and continuity from the Frankfort Proposals through the First and Second Peaces of Paris to the Congress of Vienna.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Sauvigny, Guillaume de Bertier de. Metternich and His Times. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1962. Provides background on Metternich and briefly covers his part in the Second Peace of Paris.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Sweet, Paul R. Friedrich von Gentz, Defender of the Old Order. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1941. Reprint. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1970. Illuminates Gentz’s role in the Second Peace of Paris and at the Congress of Vienna.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Tapie, Victor-L. The Rise and Fall of the Habsburg Monarchy. Translated by Stephen Hardman. New York: Praeger, 1971. Tapie chronicles Austrian political and social life leading up to the Second Treaty of Paris and after.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Webster, Sir Charles. The Foreign Policy of Castlereagh, 1812-1815. 2 vols. London: G. Bell, 1925-1931. Webster’s work includes a general account of the Second Peace of Paris centered on Castlereagh’s objectives.

Bonaparte Is Crowned Napoleon I

France’s Bourbon Dynasty Is Restored

Congress of Vienna

Battle of Waterloo

Great Britain Withdraws from the Concert of Europe

July Revolution Deposes Charles X

Related Articles in <i>Great Lives from History: The Nineteenth Century, 1801-1900</i>

Alexander I; Viscount Castlereagh; Karl von Hardenberg; Metternich; Napoleon I; Michel Ney; Talleyrand; Duke of Wellington. Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815);Second Peace of Paris Paris, Peace of (1815) Paris, Treaty of (1815) Congress of Vienna (1814-1815);and Treaty of Paris (1815)[Treaty of Paris (1815)]

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