Metternich, Clemens Wenzel Lothar Graf
Prince Clemens Wenzel Lothar Metternich, painting by T. Lawrence, around 1820/25 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
Metternich, Clemens Wenzel Lothar Count (from 1813 Prince, 1818 Duke of Portella), b. Coblenz (Germany), May 15, 1773, d. Vienna, June 11, 1859, statesman; father of Prince Richard Klemens Metternich, grandfather of Princess Pauline Metternich. Left his home in the Rhine-Moselle region before the French revolutionary forces, became an Austrian diplomat like his father Franz Georg Karl (1746-1818), 1795 married Countess Eleonore Kaunitz (1775-1825), granddaughter of the state chancellor Count W. A. Kaunitz, which connected him to the high nobility.1801 envoy to Dresden, 1803 to Berlin, 1806 after the peace of Bratislava at Napoleon´s request in Paris (with little success), where he led a life of pleasure. From Oct. 8, 1809 Foreign Minister, arranged marriage between the Archduchess Marie Louise and Napoleon. Later M. changed his policy; Austria avoided approaches to France, in 1812 however, he had to provide an independent contingent against Russia, adhered to neutrality and on Aug. 13, 1813 joined the allies (Napoleonic Wars ). M. secured the positions of the South German states of the Confederation of the Rhine and won them as allies against Prussia. He rejected the re-establishment of the Roman empire in Germany and convinced England of the danger of Russia. The climax of his work was the Congress of Vienna from September 1814 until June 1815, where he combined sophisticated social skills with diplomacy. M. insisted on the participation of France in negotiations, succeeded in establishing the Deutscher Bund and securing Austrian influence in Italy. With moderation and balance he established a long-lasting European order. As an advocate of the European balance of power he supported the Holy Alliance; however, like Emperor Franz I. (Franz II [I]), he increasingly became an opponent of popular movements.
During the following years his most important concern was to maintain the conditions of 1815 (congresses of Aachen 1818, Carlsbad 1819, Troppau 1820, Ljubljana 1821, Verona 1822). M. misjudged national movements and liberal ideas: he thought they could be suppressed by solidarity amongst the monarchs. After 1822 he suppressed national/liberal movements in Naples and North Italy, which caused him to lose support, notwithstanding the successful administration of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom. In 1821 M. became State Chancellor, a title which had not been appointed since Kaunitz.
After England and France dissociated themselves, Austria, Prussia and Russia united in 1833 under the "Alliance of the three black eagles", which suppressed the insurrection in Kraków in 1846. As a result of M.´s policy Austria was not part of any customs union and so lost its leading position in trade and business.
From 1826 M. largely lost his strong influence due to the Minister of State and head of the cabinet conferences F. A. Count Kolowrat-Liebsteinsky. He was unable to enforce even the idea of a government with ministries and was confined to foreign affairs at the conference of state in 1836. As a result of the rigour of his interior politics his opponent Kolowrat was considered a liberal, while M. became a hated symbol of repression and reaction (Vormärz). On March 13, 1848 he was the first to be forced to resign from his office as a result of the Vienna March Revolution; he escaped to England and in 1849 went to Brussels. In 1851, M. returned to his palace in Vienna in an unofficial capacity and was only rarely asked for advice. M. was the most significant statesman in Austria in the 19th century, his image, distorted by liberalism, has been reappraised since the work of H. von Srbik.
Apart from his villa, built in 1815 (demolished in 1873), he had a palace built in Rennweg in Vienna in 1846/47 (J. J. Romano and A. Schwendenwein), which has housed the Italian Embassy since 1908.
Literature: H. v. Srbik, M., der Staatsmann und der Mensch, 3 vols., 1925-1954, 31954-1960; F. Herre, M., Staatsmann des Friedens, 1983; Die Ära M., exhibition catalogue, Vienna 1984; J. v. d. Heide, K. M., 1988; G. Kugler, Staatskanzler M. und seine Gäste, 1991; ÖBL; NÖB; NDB.