- Holy Alliance
- A compact signed by Austria, Prussia, and Russian in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. Tsar Alexander I of Russia, acting under the influence of the religious mystic, Baroness von Krüdener, drew up a document declaring that the actions of European sovereigns ought to be guided by the principles of justice, peace, and Christian charity. Specifically, that it was “their fixed resolution, both in the administration of their respective States and in their political relations with every other Government, to take for their sole guide the precepts of that Holy Religion, namely, the precepts of Justice, Christian Charity and Peace, which . . . must have an immediate influence on the councils of Princes, and guide all their steps, as being the only means of consolidating human institutions and remedying the imperfections.” To this lofty goal, on September 26, 1815 the tsar put his name, together with King Frederick William III of Prussia and Emperor Francis I of Austria. Practically every other Christian ruler - significant and insignificant - later followed suit, although there were three notable exceptions to the list of adherents: the British prince regent refused on constitutional grounds, although he recognized the solemnity and importance of its sentiments; the sultan of Turkey, not being Christian, was not invited to sign; and Pope Pius VII refused to sign it on grounds that it would associate him with Protestants. The Holy Alliance was innocuous at best and meaningless at worst - indeed, both Viscount Castlereagh and Prince Klemens Metternich dismissed it as verbal nonsense - and it became synonymous with reactionary autocracy for the subsequent generation, although it exercised little if any effect on the policies of those who had promised to govern according to its principles.FURTHER READING:Hurst, Michael, ed. Key Treaties of the Great Powers, 1814–1914. 2 vols. Vol. I: 1814–1870. Newton Abbot, UK: David & Charles, 1972;Lowe, John. The Concert of Europe: International Relations, 1814–70. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1991.GREGORY FREMONT-BARNES
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.