Cutting the cake: the Congress of Vienna in British, French and German political caricature

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Abstract

Although the Congress of Vienna was not a main topic for political caricature, it was anything but ignored. During the first five months of 1815, while monarchs and diplomats were deliberating on Europe’s future, caricaturists in Great Britain, France and the German-speaking states depicted the Congress as a major or minor subject in 20 satirical prints. Together these caricatures provide a multi-perspectival view of the way contemporaries assessed the diplomatic deliberations taking place in Vienna. To obtain an insight into this important part of contemporary public opinion on the Congress, the corpus of graphic satire was submitted to close scrutiny in two ways. Firstly, a context analysis ascertained the artists who produced them; how the prints were published and brought to public attention; and for what audiences they were intended. Secondly, a content analysis explored the political messages that the caricatures on the Vienna Congress tried to convey and the persuasive techniques that were applied to visualise these points of view. Notwithstanding different national origins and opposite political views, the message is a negative one: the satires denounce the territorial greed of the Great Powers and their disregard for the demands and aspirations of the peoples they seek to incorporate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Review of History
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2016

Keywords

  • Political caricature
  • Public Opinion
  • Diplomacy
  • Congress of Vienna
  • Napoleonic Era

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