Holy Alliance

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Holy Alliance

Holy Alliance, 1815, agreement among the emperors of Russia and Austria and the king of Prussia, signed on Sept. 26. It was quite distinct from the Quadruple Alliance (Quintuple, after the admission of France) of Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, arrived at first in 1814 and revived in 1815. Nevertheless, both were a part of the resettlement of European political boundaries after the fall of the Napoleonic empire. The alliance was essentially an attempt by the conservative rulers to preserve the social order. It was particularly the product of the religious zeal of Czar Alexander I. Specifically, it accomplished nothing, since it was merely a vague agreement that the sovereigns would conduct themselves in consonance with Christian principles. Ultimately all the princes of Europe signed the alliance except three—George IV of England, who could not, for constitutional reasons; the pope, who could not, for religious reasons; and the sultan, who was not a Christian prince. The agreement was not important, but the name was applied to the cooperation of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, particularly in the period of the European conferences of Aachen, Troppau, Laibach, and Verona. The Holy Alliance became a symbol of the reaction dominated by Metternich. Austria repressed revolution in Italy, and France interfered in Spain in the name of the Holy Alliance. It was against that reactionary solidarity that the British foreign policy under George Canning was directed. The Monroe Doctrine was, in part, an outgrowth of that same fear of the European reactionary powers.

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