born May 15, 1773, Coblenz, Archbishopric of Trier [Germany]—died June 11, 1859, Vienna, Austria), Austrian statesman, minister of foreign affairs (1809–48), and a champion of conservatism, who helped form the victorious alliance against Napoleon I and who restored Austria as a leading European power, hosting the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15.
Metternich, the descendant of an old Rhenish noble family, was the son of Franz Georg Karl, Graf (count) von Metternich-Winneburg and the Gräfin (countess) Beatrix Kagenegg. His father was then the Austrian envoy to the Rhenish principalities of the empire, and Metternich spent his youth in the Rhine-Moselle region, for which he retained a lifelong affection.
The French Revolution of 1789 and its consequences were referred to by Metternich as the "hateful time." Although much of the French nobility were executed or fled the country, the French monarch Louis XVI was allowed to retain his throne as a limited "constitutional" monarch until 1793. Increasingly convinced that the king was conspiring to import a mercenary army to gain back his full power, the revolutionary government decided in 1794 to execute the king and his family. A period of bloody chaos, named the " Reign of Terror," followed.
As order was slowly restored, one of the army's generals, Napoleon Bonaparte, convinced many French citizens that he could both save the Revolution and restore order. In 1804, following a national referendum, Napoleon was crowned emperor of France. The Revolution had destroyed one monarchy; now it had created another.
Yet the rulers of the other great powers of Europe, all monarchs, did not recognize this "elected emperor" as a true monarch. From the first years of the Revolution, the other great powers had plotted to invade France and restore the family of Louis XVI. All failed; but the continuing attacks on revolutionary France gave Napoleon a justification to invade much of the rest of Europe. Between 1804 and 1807, he defeated Spain, Austria, and Prussia (a large state in northern Germany); he also pressured Russian tsar Alexander I into signing a nonaggression treaty. Napoleon portrayed such military campaigns as purely defensive—necessary to protect the French Revolution.
Read more at http://biography.yourdictionary.com/klemens-von-metternich#H26BEVSyqPIMBsg0.