Wiener Kongress

Final Report:

The Congress of Vienna and the press –

newspapers as media of political communication

2008 - 2013

Wiener Kongress

deutsche Version

Friedrich von Gentz

With this project we gained important new insights into the history of the Congress of Vienna and into the field of history of media of the early 19th century. We were able to shed light on the so far hardly researched role of newspapers for the Austrian government and its citizens as well as on the relationship between government and public in the years 1809 to 1819. We pointed out the balancing act of the authorities between a change to a more libertine active press policy as a measure of relevance for domestic and foreign policy on the one hand and the missing willingness to accept the subjects as responsible citizens on the other hand. In addition to this the government had to face the problem that all permitted reading was interpreted as convenient to it or even as its own position.


dt. Version


Against this background the years around the Congress of Vienna were a constant struggle for a successful press policy on the part of the Austrian government.
During the Congress the necessity of political consideration was especially great. Only little news about the negotiations was given, but this had an especially strong effect. At the same time, political messages were continuously submitted via reports of festivities. They conveyed not facts but “soft factors“ such as peace, harmony and unity of the allies and presented power structures. In contrast to the prevailing view that the two political Viennese newspapers served the sole purpose of entertaining and distracting the public, we can now prove the role of these dailies as media of political communication. These papers provided a forum to inform (to the extent the authorities wanted) as well as to influence their readers. By this means the foreign newspapers could not become obsolete for the public as the Austrian government had originally intended. But if the foreign press did not want to leave it at the officially available news, it was frequently dependent on rumors.

Several publications concerning these and further results of the project are in preparation. We will inform on this homepage about their release.

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