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Buol-Schauenstein, Carl Ferdinand von

Buol-Schauenstein, Carl Ferdinand von (1797-1865) Austrian diplomat and protégé of Prince Clemens von Metternich, Carl von Buol was the Austrian minister to Sardinia-Piedmont when revolutions broke out in Italy in early 1848. During the following four years, he would play a major role in the conservative restoration led by Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, first as Austrian minister to Ru ssia (1848-1850), then as the permanent delegate to the Dresden ministerial conference (1850-51), and finally as minister to Great Britain (1851-52). Buol's assignments included negotiating the terms of the Russian intervention in Hungary, participating in the discussions at Dresden for a reform of the German Confederation, and working to restore amicable relations with England despite disagreements over recent events in Italy and Hungary. Following Schwarzenberg's death in April 1852, Emperor Francis J osep h appointed Buol to serve as foreign minister and chairman of the ministerial conference. He remained in this position until 1859, when the Emperor dismissed him at the outbreak of the Franco-Austrian war in Italy.

Buol's credentials at the beginning of 1848 were solid but not extraordinary. He was descended from a wealthy family with roots in the Swiss canton of Graubünden (Grisons) and a tradition of service to the Habsburg Monarchy. His father, Johann Rudolph (1763-1834), was also a d iploma t and served as the first Austrian delegate to the Diet of the German Confederation (1815-1823). After receiving his first independent post in 1828, Buol served successively as minister to Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Württemberg. In 1844 he moved to Turin, where he spent the next four years in a vain attempt to dissuade King Charles Albert of Sardinia-Piedmont from following a revolutionary policy. Metternich's fall from power in March 1848 prevented him from completing the arrangements to send Buol to St. Petersburg; and the latter, barely escaping revolutionaries in Italy, went to Germany, where he spent part of his time as an observer of the Frankfurt parliament.

Reflecting his controversial policies during the Crimean War and the subsequent crisis with France over Italy, historical interpretations of Buol generally have not been favorable. However, much of the criticism was based on nationalist or liberal interpretations of European history. A few recent studies have attempted a mo re objecti ve approach to Buol's personality and policies, but the wisdom of some of his actions in the 1850s remains a matter of scholarly debate. To a lesser extent, Buol's activities between 1848 and 1852 also received negative marks, both for his success in ensuring Russian support of Austria in Hungary and germany and for his failure to negotiate a reform of the German Confederation at Dresden in 1851. What can be said with certainty is that Buol was the quintessential diplomat: correct, methodical, p unctual, and a master of the practice and protocol of diplomacy. His personal political views tended toward the liberal side of what was considered acceptable for an Austrian diplomat, and he had a well-deserved reputation as an Anglophile.

Roy Austensen


Austensen, Roy A. "Count Buol and the Metternich Tradition," Austrian History Yearbook 9-10 (1973-1974): 173-193.

Heindl, Waltraud. Graf Buol-Schauenstein in St. Petersburg und Lon don 1848- 1852 . Vienna: Berlag Böhlau, 1970.

Schroeder, Paul W. Austria, Great Britain, and the Crimean War: The Destruction of the European Concert. Ithaca and London: Cornell Universtiy Press, 1972.

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