The Austrian emperor Francis I (formerly Holy Roman Emperor Francis II) was the host. Among the many monarchs to attend the congress the most important were Czar Alexander I of Russia and King Frederick William III of Prussia. Fürst von Metternich was the chief Austrian negotiator and presided over the congress; Viscount Castlereagh and, for a time, the duke of Wellington represented Great Britain; the Russian delegation included Count Nesselrode, Count Capo d'Istria, and Carlo Andreo Pozzo di Borgo; among the Prussian diplomats were Karl August von Hardenberg, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and Karl vom und zum Stein.
A peace settlement with defeated France had been reached before the congress convened (see Paris, Treaty of, 1814), but France was represented by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, who, by skillfully exploiting differences among the allies, soon obtained an equal voice with the four great victorious powers. All other European states, large and petty, that had legally existed before the Napoleonic upheaval were represented by an army of delegates and agents, but the important work was carried out in committees under the tutelage of the major powers.
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