Europe was undergoing immense change in the 19th century, good and sometimes bad. There are two basic sides in the debate about change. There are the conservatives who are happy to keep the way the things they are and liberals who weren’t. Conservatives wanted to maintain tradition, specifically the king, the rights of nobles and the church. Conservatives opposed liberal ideas like human rights and equality for all people. Conservatives are often from the landed classes, the noble classes or the aristocracy so they were not really in favor of the bourgeois or the capitalist class.
Conservatism emphasized the value of tradition. Characteristics 1) Emphasis on community a. natural rights of individual [individualism could only lead to anarchy] 2) Emphasis on natural hierarchy of society a. people with intelligence, education, wealth and birth should rule; the revolt against monarchy, aristocracy and the church was an attack against morals, social order and protection from tyranny 3) Belief in depravity of man a. goodness of man [man has a sinful nature] 4) Religion is the basis of civil society a.Christianity as promoting superstition and fanaticism Although conservatives sometimes claim philosophers as ancient as Aristotle as their orebears, the first explicitly conservative political theorist is generally considered to be Edmund Burke. In 1790, when the French Revolution still seemed to promise a bloodless utopia, Burke predicted in his Reflections on the Revolution in France that the revolution would descend into terror and dictatorship.
He thought the revolutionary forces in France were too abstract and too philosophical to become true.One famous Austrian conservative was Metternich. He opposed the free press meaning he didn’t want the newspapers to write whatever they wanted he wanted to rush any type of protests and he wanted to crush those protesters with a strong army. Metternich was the minister of Austria; he was the diplomat that represented Austria at the congress of Vienna.
At the Congress of the Vienna during 1814-1815 after the Napoleonic wars, the leading states at the congress of Vienna are going to want to restore Europe to how it was before the French revolution.And so the congress of Vienna is led by conservative leaders. The conservatives teamed up with the kings and the nobles and agreed to work together at meetings called the Concert of Europe. The nobles also appealed to the peasants to try and get them on their side. Many peasants surprisingly wanted to keep the old ways of tradition even though they had to do most of the work.
Conservatives were also happy to keep the things they are because they were benefiting by keeping things exactly the way they are.One of the principles of the congress of Vienna is the principle of legitimacy, which states the legitimate leaders of Europe are those from royal families before Napoleon, so all those royal families that were deposed during the Napoleonic wars, nobles that were forced out, all of them will be restored to their positions. Even in France, where napoleon seized power, he will be replaced by the legitimate leader Trom tne 010 royal Tamlly ana so Louls tne 18tn wlll Decome King.I ne concert 0T Europe is a series of congresses that meet after the congress of Vienna to maintain cooperation amongst the major powers.
Though the order of the 1800s was predominately conservative during the first half, the 19th century was in many ways heterodox to conservatism. Ideas of the 1800s spread quickly and challenged the traditional order. Conservatism was like a dam holding back a torrent of ideas and desire for change.