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was brought up and educated in the Rhineland, west Germany, not Austria. He was

            born in 1773 in Coblenz and studied at the universities of Strasbourg and Mainz. The
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            Rhineland borders France, and French cultural influence was at its height in the 18
            century. His father was a distinguished German aristocrat who served the Holy
            Roman Empire, the Hapsburg emperors’ loose but ancient overlordship of the
            German states. His mother was an aristocrat from the Hapsburg’s eastern province of
            Bohemia. Not surprisingly Metternich grew up with a polished, cosmopolitan,
            Enlightened outlook. In his studies he developed a passion for the sciences rather,
            than the for the diplomatic career mapped out for him by his father.


            But the decisive influence on young Metternich was the French Revolution. He
            witnessed at first hand its violence and extremism and this made him into part of the
            great backlash against the French Revolution. In 1789 Strasbourg was looted by
            revolutionaries. French refugee nobles fled the Revolution and flooded into the
            region, settling in Coblenz and the surrounding Rhineland, bringing stories of
            extremism, confiscation and violence. Then, in 1792 the Prussian army arrived in

            Coblenz, marching to crush the Revolution and restore the French monarchy; only
            the French Revolutionary army unexpectedly and thoroughly defeated the Prussians
            at the Battle of Valmy. The Revolutionaries went on the offensive, and in 1793
            invaded the Rhineland and occupied Coblenz.

            Metternich thus found himself in the front line as the long era of the Revolutionary
            Wars began. In 1790 and 1792, he witnessed the coronations of two Hapsburgs as
            Holy Roman Emperors, Francis II and Leopold II. In 1793 he travelled to Brussels with

            his father who administered the Austrian Netherlands, and then to Britain on another
            diplomatic mission. But things were unravelling. The Austrian Netherlands fell to the
            French and Metternich’s father was disgraced. Even worse, French troops occupied
            Coblenz and the Metternich family estates were lost. They fled to Vienna. Metternich
            was 21,


            As a student, Metternich loved science and studied Newton, and his guiding
            philosophy as a statesman became to apply reason to restore the balance and
            natural order of things against the emotion, extremism and chaos of the French
            Revolution. He also studied the Treaty of Westphalia which had restored stability and
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            a balance of power after the religious wars of the 17  century. All this mapped out
            the pattern of his future career. At Vienna he worked to restore the European
            balance of power. After Vienna he worked to preserve it and to suppress even the
            slightest trace of revolution. Thus, Metternich the arch-conservative master
            statesman was born.
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