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Securing Europe After Napoleon: 1815 and the New European Security Culture

Securing Europe After Napoleon: 1815 and the New European Security Culture

Securing Europe After Napoleon: 1815 and the New European Security Culture

Edited by Beatrice de Graaf, Ido de Haan and Brian Vick

Cambridge University Press (2019)

Hardback, 325 pages

ISBN 9781108428224


Those interested in the Napoleonic Era will be familiar with the terms Allied Machine or Holy Alliance, each referring to the ongoing cooperative efforts of the allied powers after Waterloo to strengthen a newly shaped Europe and to secure the peace by insuring as even a playing field as possible for all. Regular conferences, or congresses, would be held, at which all the powers would be represented and at which differences could be aired and dealt with, thus heading off the possibility of any future wars. That was the basic idea, at any rate. The reality was that the ‘one for all and all for onebonhomie didn’t last long.

In this new and welcome study, contributors break down the various components of the alliance and examine how and why difficulties arose, how they were dealt with and how the basic tenants were held in place and evolved into the League of Nations. The work is divided into four parts – Part I deals with the concept of security and structures of the same through the first half of the nineteenth century; Part II deals with new institutions and structures created to defend collective interests; Part III identifies threats, real and imagined; and Part IV examines the people behind the networks and practices working to secure peace.

Britain took the helm in securing peace after Waterloo with the Allied Army of Occupation under the Duke of Wellington and many previous works concentrate on the subject from the British perspective. Securing Europe After Napoleon is unique in that it gives equal attention to the intrinsic problems within each of the allied territories – Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Austria, Prussia, Belgium, etc., while also covering the work that was ongoing well beyond 1818, when the Army of Occupation was disbanded.

Examples of just a handful of the subjects covered are alliances within alliances, with Brian Vick offering examples including how ‘the French secretly sought Russian support against British abolition moves’, as well as the British campaign to do away with North African raiders.  Wolf D. Gruner examines the German Confederation as the cornerstone of the European Security System and how its tenets carried through to the question of constructing an ‘other’ non-Prussian Germany after World War II, Ido de Haan and Jeroen van Zanten address the political paranoia that was a constant threat to the success of continued peace. The assassination attempt on Duke of Wellington’s life in February 1818 and murder of Duc de Berry in 1820 did nothing to assuage these fears, neither did passports or blacklists, nor the regular interception of letters and official documents by various governments. Also constant was the threat, real or perceived, of revolutionary uprisings. Karl Härter covers the organization and growth of policing in the various countries.

Securing Europe After Napoleon is a scholarly, yet immensely readable collaboration offering a valuable perspective on a subject that has long deserved a more in-depth study.

Kristine Hughes Patrone

January 2022