(Klemens von Metternich)


Klemens von Metternich was born to an aristocratic Austrian family. He attained several state positions during his lifetime, including the post of Foreign Minister, which he held for 39 years. He had several children (legitimate and otherwise), outlived three wives and multiple mistresses, hosted the Congress of Vienna, and counted among his contemporaries many heads of state and influential politicians. Although he struggled to keep up with the rapid political changes of his era, he is widely known as a savvy politician who kept Austria’s interests foremost in negotiations.

Metternich lived to be 86 years old, and survived a major upheaval of the European political structure. His political career began during the French Revolution, and continued until just after the appearance on the scene of Otto von Bismarck, who would later catapult Prussia into greater prominence. Although Metternich agreed not to take part in public affairs after his return from exile in 1851, he was often visited by various politicians and heads of state looking for advice, including the ruler of Austria, Franz Joseph I.

Key events during the life of Klemens von Metternich:

Born in Austria to Franz George Karl Count Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein, an Imperial diplomat, and his wife Countess Maria Beatrice Aloisia von Kagenegg.
Begins studying law at the University of Strasbourg. Meets Prince Maximilian of Zweibrücken, the future King of Bavaria.
Attends coronation of Leopold II in Frankfurt. Recieves honorific position of Ceremonial Marshall to the Catholic Bench of the College of the Counts of Westphalia. Meets future Francis II.
Studies law at University of Mainz. Works with his father over the summer.
Francis II crowned. Metternich reprises role of Ceremonial Marshall, opens ball alongside Louise of Mecklenberg. France declares war on Austria, making return to school impossible.
Sent to England to assist the Treasurer-General of the Austrian Netherlands in negotiating a loan.
Nominated as the new Minister Plenipotentiary to the Dutch Republic, leaves England in September.
Joins parents in Vienna after France annexes family estates. Marries Countess Eleonore von Kaunitz in September. Father-in-law forbids Metternich to act as a diplomat while he is still alive.
Participates in Congress of Rastatt as the representative of the Catholic Bench of the College of the Counts of Westphalia.
Birth of sons Francis and Klemens, both of whom died in childhood.
Granted position Elector of Saxony at Dresden. Birth of a daughter named Klementine to his mistress Katharina Bagration.
Birth of son, Viktor, to Metternich and Eleonore.
Recieves new estates in Ochsenhausen, the title of Prince and a seat in the Imperial Diet. Assigned as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Prussia.
Assigned as ambassador to the French Court. Meets Talleyrand and Napoleon.
Rising tension between Austria and France leads to personal argument with Napoleon at the Emperor's birthday celebration. Metternich banned from Congress of Erfurt, remains in contact with Talleyrand.
France declares war on Austria, Metternich arrested in retaliation for the arrest of two French diplomats in Vienna. Later traded for same diplomats.
Becomes Foreign Minister and Minister of the Imperial Household.
Negotiates marriage of Napoleon Bonaparte to Marie Louise of Austria.
Concluded an alliance between Austria and France. Accompanies Francis II for final meeting with Napoleon.
End of Austria's alliance with France; Austria assumes position of armed neutrality.
Austria declares war on France, August 12th.
Battle of Leipzig, Metternich given the title 'Prince'.
Treaty of Paris. Awarded honorary law degree from University of Oxford. Reunited with his family.
Congress of Vienna.
Deaths of daughters Klementine and Maria from tuberculosis. Rest of the family leaves for France.
Became Court Chancellor and Chancellor of State.
Death of Eleonore.
Marries 20-year-old Antoinette von Leykam.
Death of Metternich's mother.
Death of wife Antoinette, after giving birth to son Richard. Death of son Viktor from tuberculosis on November 30th.
Convocation of the Hungarian Diet, crowning of Archduke Ferdinand as King of Hungary.
Marries 25-year-old Melanie Zichy-Ferraris.
Birth of children; Melanie, Klemens (died at age 2 months), Paul, Lothar.
Lord Palmerston emerges as British political rival.
Death of Emperor Francis II.
Resigns as Foreign Minister. Exiled to England with his family following revolution in Italy.
Returns to Austria after agreeing not to interfere in public affairs. Recieves visit from Otto von Bismarck.
Death of his wife Melanie.
Death of Metternich, June 11th, Vienna.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Divided Germany  in  The History of Germany  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
The Congress of Vienna  in  Nations of Europe and the Great War  by  Charles Morris

Short Biography
Napoleon Victorious general who rose to power during the French Revolution. Crowned himself Emperor and restored France to greatness.
Talleyrand Apostate bishop who organized Civil Constitution of Clergy. Stayed in favor during regime changes from the Estates General to the Restoration.
Francis II Emperor of Austria during the Napoleonic Wars; last Holy Roman Emperor.
Alexander I Leader of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars.
Duke of Wellington Napoleonic war general who fought in Spain and Portugal. Defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
Otto von Bismarck Prussian statesman and mastermind of German Unification. Strategically provoked wars against Austria and France.
Franz Joseph I Emperor of Austria during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.