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Klemens Wenzel von Metternich
Metternich by Lawrence.jpeg
Portrait of Prince Metternich by Lawrence
Born 15 May 1773
Died 11 June 1859 (aged 86)
Vienna, Austria
Nationality Austrian
Education University of Strasbourg
Known for The Congress of Vienna, Minister of State, Conservatism, Concert of Europe
Spouse(s) Baroness Antoinette Leykam (1827-1829), Countess Melanie Zichy-Ferraris (1831-1854)
Children Richard, Fürst von Metternich
Parent(s) Franz Georg Karl, Graf von Metternich-Winneburg and Countess Beatrix Kagenegg

Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Prince of Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein (15 May 1773 – 11 June 1859) was an Austrian diplomat who was at the center of European affairs for four decades as the Austrian Empire's foreign minister from 1809 and Chancellor from 1821 until the liberal Revolutions of 1848 forced his resignation.

Life and career

Born into the House of Metternich in 1773 as the son of a diplomat, Metternich received a good education at the universities of Strasbourg and Mainz. Metternich rose through key diplomatic posts, including ambassadorial roles in the Kingdom of Saxony, the Kingdom of Prussia, and especially Napoleonic France.

One of his first assignments as Foreign Minister was to engineer an arrangement with France that included the marriage of Napoleon to the Austrian archduchess Marie Louise so as to ease relations between the two countries.

Soon after, he engineered Austria's entry into the War of the Sixth Coalition on the Allied side, signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau that sent Napoleon into exile and led the Austrian delegation at the Congress of Vienna that divided post-Napoleonic Europe amongst the major powers. For his service to the Austrian Empire, he was given the title of Prince in October 1813.

At home, Metternich held the post of Chancellor of State from 1821 until 1848 under both Francis I and his son Ferdinand I. After a brief exile in London, Brighton, and Brussels that lasted until 1851, he returned to the Viennese court, this time to offer only advice to Ferdinand's successor, Franz Josef. Having outlived his generation of politicians, Metternich died at the age of 86 in 1859.

A traditional conservative, Metternich was keen to maintain the balance of power, in particular by resisting Russian territorial ambitions in Central Europe and lands belonging to the Ottoman Empire.

He disliked liberalism and strove to prevent the breakup of the Austrian Empire. At home, he pursued a similar policy, using censorship and a wide-ranging spy network to suppress unrest.

Metternich has been both praised and heavily criticized for the policies he pursued. His supporters pointed out that he presided over the "Age of Metternich", when international diplomacy helped prevent major wars in Europe. His qualities as a diplomat were commended, some noting that his achievements were considerable in light of the weakness of his negotiating position.

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