Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich

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Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich (German: Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Fürst von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein [1]) (15 May 1773 – 11 June 1859) was a German-Austrian politician and statesman. He was one of the most important diplomats of his era.[2] He was a major figure in the negotiations before and during the Congress of Vienna and is considered both a paragon of foreign-policy management and a major figure in the development of diplomatic praxis. He was the archetypal practitioner of 19th-century diplomatic realism, being deeply rooted in the postulates of the balance of power {see Realpolitik}. For generations, Metternich was castigated as a blind reactionary, with Heinrich Heine famously writing ganz Europa wurde ein Sankt Helena, und Metternich war dessen Hudson Lowe (all of Europe was a Saint Helena and Metternich was its Hudson Lowe). After World War I, some historians suggested that one of the main reasons for his opposition to giving power to the people was his apprehension that it would eventually lead to the political dominance of German nationalism.[citation needed]


Early life

Metternich was born in Koblenz. His father, Franz George Karl, Count von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein, was a diplomat who had passed from the service of the Archbishopric of Trier to that of the court of Vienna. His mother was Countess Maria Beatrice Aloisia von Kageneck. At the time of Metternich's birth, and for some time after that, his father was the Austrian ambassador to the courts of the three Rhenish electors. Metternich was at first brought up under the influence of the tone and ideals that flourished in the small German courts in the French sphere of influence during the Ancien Régime.

In 1788 Metternich began studying law at the University of Strasbourg, but the outbreak of the French Revolution impelled him to leave after two years. In 1790 he was deputed by the Catholic bench of the Westphalian Circle to act as their master of the ceremonies at the coronation of the new Emperor Leopold II in Frankfurt, a function he repeated at the coronation of Francis II in 1792. He then found employment in the chancery of the Austrian minister to the government of the Austrian Netherlands.

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