The 1821 Congress of Ljubljana
In 2021, during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the exhibition will associate Ljubljana and Slovenia with their historical and current roles in the European international relations.
On the 200th anniversary of the Congress of Ljubljana, we are planning to organise an exhibition dedicated to the events and “shining moments” that the city of Ljubljana experienced in the first half of 1821 when it hosted many of the highest representatives of European countries for well over four months. The Congress placed Ljubljana in the centre of the most crucial European political developments.
Apart from Emperor Francis I of Austria, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and King Ferdinand I of Naples, many diplomats and other high-ranking guests gathered in Ljubljana for the Congress. They arrived in the capital of Carniola because of the events in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where King Ferdinand I of Naples had been forced to adopt a constitution after the revolutionary overthrow in 1820. The representatives of the coalition that had been victorious against revolutionary France could not put a stop to the ideas and spirit of the French Revolution, but they were convinced they could control them. In the opinion of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, the Naples Revolution threatened the continent’s peace and stability, established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 after two decades of wars with France. Therefore, they believed they had the right to intervene.
Chroniclers reported that no tension was felt in Ljubljana in light of the current political events. Theatre performances and concerts were well attended throughout the Congress. Because of the many wealthy guests, the business of Ljubljana’s merchants, artisans, innkeepers, and others boomed. Those who participated in the Congress were so charmed by the city that Friedrich von Gentz, the advisor of the Austrian Minister Metternich and Secretary to the Congress, ultimately wrote that he would not mind if the proceedings dragged on for as long as until the next winter.
Apart from portraying Ljubljana’s moments in the spotlight, the exhibition will also present the Congress in light of the antagonism between the principles of legitimism and constitutionalism, characteristic of the European political restoration after the Congress of Vienna. The system successfully stifled (even with weapons) the national and liberal turmoil and thus ensured the continent’s geopolitical stability.
In 2021, during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the exhibition dedicated to the 1821 Congress of Ljubljana will also represent a sort of reminiscence, as it will associate Ljubljana and Slovenia with their historical and current roles in the European international relations.
Author: Janez Polajnar