For more than two decades (1792-1815) Europe had suffered continuous war. According to the historian E.J. Hobsbawm, these were wars in which states and systems confronted one another and in which the winners were the so-called old regimes. Among the loosers were not only the
France of Napoleon but almost all the democratic ideas and liberal
movements inspired by the Enlightenment and particularly by the
French Revolution. However, the victory and restoration of the old regimes
did not mean that revolutionary ideas were eliminated. The germs of the French Revolution had taken root in the European continent and revolutionary activities persisted through secret societies. The need to eliminate these led to the formation of new security systems, whose aim was twofold: to prevent a new war and the outbreak of
of further revolutions, which would be
likely to effect the collapse of the old regimes.
In order to achieve these goals the so-called Holy Quintuple
or European Alliance, composed of the most powerful countries of Europe, the Great Powers, was formed from 1815. The Holy Alliance comprised Great Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia and France. The diplomatic
framework of their foreign policies promoted the stability of the old regimes as well as their particular, and often contradictory, economic and geopolitical interests.
Thus, these states had to agree upon those elements of foreign policy that could potentially evolve into a threat for the
stability of Europe. In order to do so they organized frequent meetings and congresses in which their kings and
political leaders, such as Prince Metternich, Chancellor of Austria, took part.
Nevertheless, it was impossible to achieve political stability
in the period of rapid and radical social and economic change into which the
Europe of the 19th century had already entered. The fact that the political system did not reflect socio-economic developments strengthened the appeal and the effectiveness of
secret revolutionary societies. These societies or brotherhoods
were inspired by ideas such as liberalism, democratic radicalism
and nationalism. Their organization models followed
conspiratorial groups developed during
the French Revolution, and also in Masonic lodges. Revolutionary agitation led to a series of revolts and uprisings in the Balkans and south Europe in the first years of the 1820s.
The Holy Alliance was not alone in condemning these
uprisings. France quelled the Revolution in the Iberian peninsula and
Austria repressed that in the Italian peninsula. Conversely, the Greek Revolution was
left to the Ottoman Empire. The endurance of the Greek
revolutionaries in the battle fields and the stabilization of the uprising in the Peloponnese, Central Greece and the Aegean islands at least until 1825 provided the Holy Alliance with a challenge.
Moreover, the Greek conflict drove some of the Great Powers and particularly Great Britain and Russia to revise their attitude and to favour attempts to create a Greek state. Thus, the Greek Revolution, which was a source of inspiration and hope for European liberals was a uniquely successful
uprising in the Restoration period