Gentz, Friedrich von

Gentz, Friedrich von frēˈdrĭkh fən gĕnts [key], 1764–1832, German conservative political theorist. Admirer of the English political system of checks and balances, Gentz was critical of the French Revolution. He translated (1793) Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. He conducted a relentless polemical campaign against Napoleon I, advocating civic liberties and the rule of law against egalitarian autocracy and illegitimate imperialism. Prussian neutrality led him to move from Berlin to Vienna (1802), where he advised on Austrian foreign policy and (1812) became secretary to Metternich. A powerful figure in Austrian and European politics, he served as secretary-general of the Congresses of Vienna, Aachen, Laibach, Troppau, and Verona, supporting the old order against the new without exception: in the Balkans, Spain, and Latin America.

See his The French and American Revolutions Compared (tr. by J. Q. Adams, 1803, new ed. 1955). See also biography by P. R. Sweet (1941, repr. 1970); G. Mann, Secretary of Europe (tr. 1946, repr. 1970); study by P. F. Reiff (1912, repr. 1967).

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