"Great-power politics rather than principles dominated the Vienna Settlement of 1915." Discuss

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"Great-power politics rather than principles dominated the Vienna Settlement of 1915."  Discuss

        It is hardly surprising that the Settlement was dominated by the Great Powers for it was they who, at great cost, had defeated Napoleon and only they who had the strength to bring the turmoil that he had created to an end. So the most delicate negotiations and the key decisions took place, outside the formal sessions of the Conference, between the statesmen representing the victorious powers. The scheming of Talleyrand won France a place in the inner discussions but the representatives of the lesser nations were kept away from the decision-making.  

        The Settlement is often studied through a survey of Great Power representatives, motives, tactics and rewards. At the end of this essay it will be argued that this situation does not necessarily mean that principles had no part to play in shaping the settlement of Europe. A lot may depend on how one defines a principle.

        The territorial arrangements arrived at offer a clear indication of the significant part played by Great Power politics. The Tsar Alexander pursued the traditional Russian policy of expansion westwards in order to provide deeper defences for the heart of his kingdom, securing both Finland and Poland for his pains. Hardenberg of Prussia had great ambitions to obtain all of Saxony…

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        What the Great powers wanted in the way of territory they appeared to get unless they ran up against the counter interests of one of their peers and compromise and compensation were, after a generation of war, inevitable. British territorial gains though outside Europe, in ..., have a similar ring of ensuring the reward of the powers for their efforts.

        Outside the immediate territorial gains of the Great Powers there is more room for debate on what constituted the dominating themes of the Settlement. The aggregation of hundreds of small German states into the 39 of the German Confederation was ...

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