The Congress of Vienna formally recognized replacement of the Holy Roman Empire and its more than 240 states with the German Confederation of 39 states, including four free cities. The confederation was represented by a powerless assembly. Opinions differed on what the new confederation should be. Many Germans wanted to fashion a liberal, progressive government on British and French models, with a constitution guaranteeing popular representation, trial by jury, and free speech. They also hoped for national unification. Such ideas were especially popular among middle-class professionals and university students. These aims also appealed to the various restive peoples within the Austrian empire.
Liberalism and nationalism were bitterly opposed by the rulers of Prussia and Austria, as well as by the recently crowned kings of Bavaria, Hannover, Württemberg, and Saxony, who begrudgingly granted constitutions and dreaded any encroachment on their individual power. Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Britain formed the Quadruple Alliance to suppress—by force if necessary—any threat to the Vienna settlement. At an 1819 conference of German rulers in Karlsbad, Austrian foreign minister Prince Klemens von Metternich proposed governmental action to prevent any potential revolutionary activity in the German Confederation. This was supported by the German rulers, who pushed it through the confederation’s assembly. Frederick William III of Prussia blocked reforms planned by his ministers. In 1834 Prussia organized a customs union of 18 German states, which Austria refused to join. While this organization facilitated economic growth throughout Germany, its political significance as an early German union was minor. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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