|The Struggle for Sea Power|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book IV of the Story of the Worlds series. Focuses on the age of empire and world colonization. The histories of European colonies in America, Australia, South Africa, and India are related. Also covered are the Revolution in America, the French Revolution, and campaigns of Napoleon. Ages 12-18 |
THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA
"All Europe's bound-lines, drawn afresh in blood."
NAPOLEON'S great empire had passed away. His fall restored peace to the troubled nations of Europe, whose boundaries he
A great congress of European kings and statesmen, now met at the Austrian capital, Vienna, to readjust these
boundaries and to reinstate kings to their rightful thrones. It was a wondrous meeting. There was the Emperor
of Austria himself, with his thin figure and sallow face, the father of Maria Louisa, Empress of the French in
name alone; there was the manly form of the Tsar of Russia, Alexander, with his wife, to whom the musician
Beethoven had been playing; there was the King of Prussia, tall and very grave; the white-haired
 King of Denmark; and numerous other great men, including the Duke of Wellington.
Picnics, balls, and banquets were the order of the day. Hundreds of royal carriages, painted in green and
silver, rolled through the streets of Vienna, carrying the Emperor's guests from place to place. Outside all
these festive scenes sat Maria Louisa. Her father's guests were assembled to undo the work of Napoleon her
husband, even now an exile at Elba. Right away from the gay throng, she lived at her palace, her servants still
wearing the French liveries of the court of Napoleon, her little son still dressed in the embroidered uniform
of a French hussar, playing with his French toys.
Meanwhile the work of the Congress was progressing. Louis XVIII. had been recalled from England—where he had
lived since the death of his brother Louis XVI.—to take possession of the throne of France. Ferdinand of Spain
returned from exile to rule over his Spanish kingdom once more; the Pope returned to Rome; the Prince of Orange
was made King of Holland.
Suddenly, one day, the news rang through Europe that Napoleon had escaped from Elba, and was even now in
France. The news took eight days to reach Vienna. The Congress met, and the great Powers drew up a declaration.
"Napoleon," they said, "was an enemy to Europe; and, as a disturber of the peace of the world, must be treated
as an outlaw."
 "Ah, Wellington," said Alexander of Russia, "it is for you once more to save the world."
Ever since Napoleon had been at Elba, he had been in communication with the French. He heard of the
unpopularity of Louis XVIII.; he knew that his own powers were not dead. Once more he determined to risk
He made his preparations very secretly. He had a French ship painted in English colours at Naples, and brought
round to Elba. Then one Sunday night, at nine o'clock, he quietly embarked with a thousand soldiers, on board
the Inconstant. On doubling the island of Corsica, they fell in with a French cruiser. Its captain hailed the
Inconstant and, hearing it came from Elba, asked how the Emperor was.
"He is marvellously well," answered Napoleon himself, ordering his soldiers to lie flat on deck to escape
That danger was passed, and the little ship sailed on towards the coast of France.
"I shall reach Paris without firing a shot," prophesied Napoleon, as he stepped ashore near Cannes.
It was March 1, ten months since he had embarked for Elba. No force opposed his landing. A few days later, he
issued the proclamation he had prepared.
"Soldiers," it ran, "we have not been beaten. In my exile I have heard your voice. I have arrived
 once more among you, despite all perils. Come and range yourself under the banner of your old chief."
He reached Grenoble in safety. But here was a crisis: Royalist troops barred the road. Amid a breathless
silence, Napoleon advanced alone. He was a familiar figure, in his grey cloak and cocked hat.
"There he is! Fire on him!" cried a Royalist.
Not a shot was fired.
"Soldiers," cried a well-known voice, "if there is one among you, who wishes to kill his emperor, he can do so.
Here I am."
Then the old shout, "Long live the Emperor!" burst forth on all sides as the soldiers, with tears running down
their cheeks, flocked round Napoleon, vowing to be faithful again.
They were the soldiers of Louis XVIII.: they had refused to fire on Napoleon. The scene decided the fate of the
Soon Napoleon was at the head of 14,000 men, marching on Paris. On the evening of March 20 he entered the
capital. Louis XVIII. had fled to Ghent that morning. As the well-known figure was recognised, a great shout
arose, and as Napoleon stepped from his carriage, at the gates of the Tuileries, he was seized by French
officers and carried up the grand staircase of the palace. It was for the fallen emperor "a moment of triumph,
for which it was almost worth paying the price of Waterloo and St Helena."
 For the next hundred days Napoleon ruled France once more. He had been gladly accepted by the French people,
but rejected by Europe. With a marvellous courage, he now determined to march against Europe. And the four
allies—Russia, Prussia, Austria, and England—prepared to march against France.
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