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troubled, the laws no longer violated with impunity, and finally liberty placed on firm and unshakable bases. (Signed) Louis.

At Paris, June 20, 1791.

The King forbids his ministers to sign any order in his name until they have received further orders from him. He enjoins the guard of the seal of the state to send it to him as soon as he shall require him to do so. At Paris, June 20, 1791.10

Leopold II's proposed action against France

(Signed) Louis.

This incident led Leopold II of Austria, the brother of Marie Antoinette, to indite a personal communication to the Empress of Russia, the Electress of Mayence, the Kings of England, Prussia, Spain and Sardinia, inviting joint action for the reestablishment of his royal brother-in-law upon the throne of France in his full powers. This letter was followed by an instruction issued by Count Kaunitz, Court and State Chancellor, in which the ideas of Leopold were amplified and reasons for his proposed course given. This action of Leopold and his Minister are said to have given birth to the idea of the concert of Europe.11

But these documents did more than give birth to the concert of Europe as a political combination; they announced the fundamental principles which were to actuate the Holy Alliance, as it had developed by 1823, in their aims and purposes with reference not alone to Europe but to the Western Hemisphere as well.

These documents being of such great importance are in their pertinent parts quoted, in translation, below:

Leopold II to the Empress of Russia, the Electress of Mayence, and the Kings of England, Prussia, Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia

I am sure that Your Majesty has heard of the unprecedented outrage consisting in the arrest of the King of France, my sister, the Queen, and the royal family, with as much surprise and indignation as I did, and that your sentiments can not differ from mine over an event which, by making it possible to fear even more atrocious consequences, sealing with the seal of unlawfulness the excesses which have been heretofore indulged in in France, is an immediate menace to the honor of all the sovereigns and the safety of all the Governments. Firmly resolved to carry out what these considerations force upon me, and as the head of the German body, with its cooperation, and as the sovereign of the Austrian States, I propose to the Kings of Spain, England, Prussia, Naples and Sardinia, as also to the Empress of Russia, to join with one another and with myself to vindicate the freedom and honor of the most Christian King and his family and bring within bounds the dangerous extremes of the French revolution.

The most urgent thing to do seems to be that we come all together in having at once our Ministers in France given a joint declaration or like and simultaneous declarations which may bring to their senses the leaders of the violent

10 Fred Morrow Fling, The French Revolution, pp. 277-278. "Cambridge Modern History, vol. x, p. 3; Phillips, The Confederation of Europe, p. 39; Albert Sorel, L'Europe et la Révolution Française, vol. II, p. 232.

party and avert desperate decisions by still leaving open to them a way for honest resipiscence and the peaceful establishment of a condition of things in France that will at least save the dignity of the Crown and the essential consideration of general tranquillity, and I lay before Your Majesty to that end the draft you will find herewith and which seems to me to meet those views.

But inasmuch as the success of such a declaration might be doubtful, and could not be hoped for to its full extent unless we should be ready to uphold it by means commanding sufficient respect, my Minister near Your Majesty will directly receive the needed instructions to arrange with Your Ministry such concert of vigorous measures as circumstances may demand, and I reserve to myself a later communication to you also of the answers I may receive from the other Powers as soon as they reach me.

I consider it to be an infinitely valuable advantage that the intentions they all manifest for the restoration of peace and concord bid fair to remove the obstacles that might stand in the way of unanimous views and sentiments in a circumstance which is of close interest to the well-being of the whole of Europe. LEOPOLD.

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PADUA, July 5 or 6, 1791.

The undersigned are instructed to make the following known on behalf of their respective sovereigns:

Notwithstanding the notorious existence of constraint and violence which took place before and after the acts of consent vouchsafed by the King of France to the Decrees of the National Assembly, they were, nevertheless, willing still to suspend their opinion as to how far such consent did or did not carry the conviction and free will of his most Christian Majesty; but the attempt made by that Prince to gain his liberty being the most obvious evidence that he was heretofore kept in a situation of arrest left no longer room for doubt that his good faith had been imposed on in many respects while the last outrage of his actual arrest and that of the Queen, the Dauphin and Madame Elizabeth brings well-founded alarm concerning the later demands of the dominant party;

The said Sovereigns, being unable to delay any longer a manifestation of their sentiments and the resolutions imposed on them in this condition of affairs by the honor of their crowns, or ties of blood and the maintenance of order and public tranquillity in Europe, have directed the undersigned Ministers to declare;

That they demand that the Prince and his family be forthwith released and insist that all these royal persons shall be inviolable and respected in the way the law of nature and of nations demand of the subjects for their rulers;

That they will come together to wreak striking vengeance for the later attempts that might be or allowed to be committed on the safety, person and honor of the King, the Queen and the royal family;

That lastly they will only recognize as the lawfully established law and constitution of France those that will bear the free consent of the King in the full enjoyment of perfect liberty; but that they will otherwise put forth in concert all the means placed in their power to bring to an end the scandal of such usurpation of power as would bear the marks of open rebellion and the baleful example of which all the governments would find it important to repress.



Translation from Quellen zur Geschichte der Kaiserpolitik Oesterreichs by Vivenot and Zeissberg, vol. 1, pp. 185-187.

Count Kaunitz's circular instruction

The note of Count Kaunitz, dated some time in July, took the form of a "circular instruction of the Court and State Chancellor to the Royal and Imperial Envoys and Ministers at St. Petersburg, Madrid, London, Berlin, Naples, and Turin." The instruction transmitted the autographed letter with Leopold's draft declaration and directed that the Austrian representative should say to the court to which he was accredited that the draft declaration and explanations which were to follow in this instruction were to be regarded—

as being the first outline offered for common deliveration so as to speed their progress by first bringing together the views and opinions on wellsettled objects.13

After setting out the way in which Leopold wished his suggestions to be regarded, this instruction continued:

All manner of evidence now comes to prove, without leaving any ground for the slightest doubt that the present national assembly has in many respects overstepped the powers it has from the King and the Nation; that some of the concessions of his Most Christian Majesty were extorted from him by violence and danger; that the faction that mastered the preponderating influence in the national assembly is aiming to induce him to go to extremes and in particular to a partial and arbitrary interpretation and modified execution of his own decrees which would introduce a constitution that, in that condition of things, would be in conflict with the most general notions of a monarchial government (the only one which has been given to vast states by the experience of all past centuries) and also with the honor, decent representation, and present and future safety of the King and the royal family; that in this way the Prince was justified by his most sacred rights and obligations to evade the violence of the situation; that the proclamation which he left behind at the time of his flight is to be considered as the one expression of his true intentions and cancelling in advance all inconsistent steps to which he might be driven by his relapsing into the same violent condition; that consequently all the foreign powers are authorized to demand the release of the Most Christian King and the essential maintenance of the form of government which in France dates back to the original constitution of the nation."

The instruction then refers to a letter which Leopold had received from Louis XVI "in which the unfortunate Prince tells Europe at the time of his arrest about his grievances and demands." The instruction continues:

While the most scrupulous principles of international law sanctioned the intervention of the foreign sovereigns in support of his cause, on the other hand the expediency and, I should say, the necessity of such a decision seem to proceed with just as much evidence from the more general consideration of what they owe to their own closest interests, to the interests of their peoples and to the common prosperity of Europe.

They owe it to the honor and safety of their own crowns to protect from later attempts the honor and safety of a virtuous and kindly King.

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They owe it to the tranquillity and happiness of the peoples they rule to protect them from the progress of a contagious discontent, insubordination and revolt, the first symptoms of which give clear notice to all the governments that it will no longer recognize any limit or remedy if France is allowed to reduce its government to a condition of anarchy of the most baleful and alluring kind, since when royalty is stripped of any actual authority, the laws of stability and execution, the civil administration as well as the military discipline of obedience and strength, this tends to put upon all the powers the unpunishable violence of a blind populace carried off without restraint by all the impulses of seduction and crime.14

The instruction then states that "admitting that human wisdom may suggest means sufficiently efficacious to prevent so dangerous a contagion from working gradually its way into all countries" and so "upsetting the foundation of all governments" and the necessity for meeting an evil that “will turn to be an actual calamity for all of the nations of Europe whose prosperity and predominance" flow "from the community of institutions of all kinds, domestic administration, mild and tranquil, moral enlightened opinions and beneficent and pure religion that brings them all together in one family of nations," yet "the kind of seduction which is favored in so many ways," apparently in France, "can only tend to isolate the nations and constrain the wisest and most indulgent princes to deny to themselves the introduction of truly useful reforms and to sacrifice for the progress of public happiness for the sake of order and tranquillity which are the bases thereof."

The instruction continues:

The first and most urgent measure appears to be a common and imposing declaration of their sentiments and intentions for the purpose of:

1. Warding off further violences which would endanger the person of the King, the Queen and the royal family;

2. To free the most Christian King and his family and at least save the most essential forms of French monarchy by bringing nearer to the new constitution the concessions that have been and may later be granted of the free will of the King and of the acknowledged powers of the nation.

If the uncautious extremities of the first class should immediately bring to action the help and revenge of all the powers, there would none the less be some doubt as to the efficiency of their interference on the second point unless they combine with their admonitions a display of force sufficient to give effect to their intentions. The Emperor takes his solemn engagement to take a vigorous share for his part in the measures that will be jointly agreed on and caresses the hope that the gravity of the danger will impel all the members of the German body to join their own efforts with those of the other powers.

Finally, can not, must not, reliance be placed for the support of the general concert on a large part of the French returning to their natural sentiments of enerosity, reason and love for a king who sacrificed so much for them?


Translation from Quellen zur Geschichte der Kaiserpolitik Oesterreichs by Vivenot and Zeissberg, vol. I, p. 209.

15 Ibid., p. 210.

For the purpose of avoiding the shedding of human blood and the miseries of war, Leopold suggested as a measure "likely perhaps to bring that distracted nation to its senses," that:

a joint resolution of the foreign powers to suspend every intercourse of persons, trade and relations with a people who, persisting in the condition of revolt and manifest anarchy, would thereby resolve all the ties that bind it to the great community of European nations. That decision, followed by the recall of the ministers would come upon a formal refusal actually to set free the royal persons and proceed with the legal reform of the French constitution and would be maintained by severe measures and armaments worthy of consideration all made ready for the bringing into play the last resorts granting that every hope of warding off that necessity vanishes.15

Declaration of Pillnitz, August 27, 1791

The foregoing action of Leopold was followed on August 27, 1791, by the Declaration of Pillnitz which was issued by the Emperor Leopold and Frederick William II of Prussia. This declaration reads:


His Majesty the Emperor and His Majesty the King of Prussia, after hearing the wish and remarks stated by Monsieur (brother of the King of France) and Count d'Artois, jointly declare that they regard the situation in which His Majesty the King of France is now placed as a matter of common interest to all the sovereigns of Europe. They hope that this interest cannot fail to be acknowledged by the powers whose assistance is asked; and that as a consequence they will not refuse to bring into play jointly with Their Majesties the most efficacious means in comparison with their strength, to put the King of France in condition to strengthen in full freedom the foundations of a monarchical government equally suitable to the rights of the sovereigns and the well-being of the French nation. Then and in that case Their aforesaid Majesties the Emperor and the King of Prussia have resolved to take broad action in common accord with the forces that may be necessary to achieve the contemplated common end. In the meanwhile they will issue to their troops suitable orders so that they may be at hand for action.

AT PILLNITZ, August 27, 1791.




It is supposed that there was attached to this declaration a series of secret articles, Article 1 of which reads:


The high contracting powers will in concert take the measures that will be the most effective both in a general way for the maintenance of the treaties that are existing with France and in particular as to the representations to be made to that nation, and will ask the whole Empire to share therein in case friendly representations should still be fruitless."

15 Ibid.

16 De Martens, Recueil des principaux traités, vol. v, p. 35.

17 Ibid., p. 36.

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