1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Laibach

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LAIBACH (Slovenian, Ljubljana), capital of the Austrian duchy of Carniola, 237 m. S.S.W. of Vienna by rail. Pop. (1900) 36,547, mostly Slovene. It is situated on the Laibach, near its influx into the Save, and consists of the town proper and eight suburbs. Laibach is an episcopal see, and possesses a cathedral in the Italian style, several beautiful churches, a town hall in Renaissance style and a castle, built in the 15th century, on the Schlossberg, an eminence which commands the town. Laibach is the principal centre of the national Slovenian movement, and it contains a Slovene theatre and several societies for the promotion of science and literature in the native tongue. The Slovenian language is in general official use, and the municipal administration is purely Slovenian. The industries include manufactures of pottery, bricks, oil, linen and woollen cloth, fire-hose and paper.

Laibach is supposed to occupy the site of the ancient Emona or Aemona, founded by the emperor Augustus in 34 B.C. It was besieged by Alaric in 400, and in 451 it was desolated by the Huns. In 900 Laibach suffered much from the Magyars, who were, however, defeated there in 914. In the 12th century the town passed into the hands of the dukes of Carinthia; in 1270 it was taken by Ottocar of Bohemia; and in 1277 it came under the Habsburgs. In the early part of the 15th century the town was several times besieged by the Turks. The bishopric was founded in 1461. On the 17th of March 1797 and again on the 3rd of June 1809 Laibach was taken by the French, and from 1809 to 1813 it became the seat of their general government of the Illyrian provinces. From 1816 to 1849 Laibach was the capital of the kingdom of Illyria. The town is also historically known from the congress of Laibach, which assembled here in 1821 (see below). Laibach suffered severely on the 14th of April 1895 from an earthquake.

Congress or Conference of Laibach.—Before the break-up of the conference of Troppau (q.v.), it had been decided to adjourn it till the following January, and to invite the attendance of the king of Naples, Laibach being chosen as the place of meeting. Castlereagh, in the name of Great Britain, had cordially approved this invitation, as “implying negotiation” and therefore as a retreat from the position taken up in the Troppau Protocol. Before leaving Troppau, however, the three autocratic powers, Russia, Austria and Prussia, had issued, on the 8th of December 1820, a circular letter, in which they reiterated the principles of the Protocol, i.e. the right and duty of the powers responsible for the peace of Europe to intervene to suppress any revolutionary movement by which they might conceive that peace to be endangered (Hertslet, No. 105). Against this view Castlereagh once more protested in a circular despatch of the 19th of January 1821, in which he clearly differentiated between the objectionable general principles advanced by the three powers, and the particular case of the unrest in Italy, the immediate concern not of Europe at large, but of Austria and of any other Italian powers which might consider themselves endangered (Hertslet, No. 107).

The conference opened on the 26th of January 1821, and its constitution emphasized the divergences revealed in the above circulars. The emperors of Russia and Austria were present in person, and with them were Counts Nesselrode and Capo d’Istria, Metternich and Baron Vincent; Prussia and France were represented by plenipotentiaries. But Great Britain, on the ground that she had no immediate interest in the Italian question, was represented only by Lord Stewart, the ambassador at Vienna, who was not armed with full powers, his mission being to watch the proceedings and to see that nothing was done beyond or in violation of the treaties. Of the Italian princes, Ferdinand of Naples and the duke of Modena came in person; the rest were represented by plenipotentiaries.

It was soon clear that a more or less open breach between Great Britain and the other powers was inevitable, Metternich was anxious to secure an apparent unanimity of the powers to back the Austrian intervention in Naples, and every device was used to entrap the English representative into subscribing a formula which would have seemed to commit Great Britain to the principles of the other allies. When these devices failed, attempts were made unsuccessfully to exclude Lord Stewart from the conferences on the ground of defective powers. Finally he was forced to an open protest, which he caused to be inscribed on the journals, but the action of Capo d’Istria in reading to the assembled Italian ministers, who were by no means reconciled to the large claims implied in the Austrian intervention, a declaration in which as the result of the “intimate union established by solemn acts between all the European powers” the Russian emperor offered to the allies “the aid of his arms, should new revolutions threaten new dangers,” an attempt to revive that idea of a “universal union” based on the Holy Alliance (q.v.) against which Great Britain had consistently protested.

The objections of Great Britain were, however, not so much to an Austrian intervention in Naples as to the far-reaching principles by which it was sought to justify it. King Ferdinand had been invited to Laibach, according to the circular of the 8th of December, in order that he might be free to act as “mediator between his erring peoples and the states whose tranquillity they threatened.” The cynical use he made of his “freedom” to repudiate obligations solemnly contracted is described elsewhere (see Naples, History). The result of this action was the Neapolitan declaration of war and the occupation of Naples by Austria, with the sanction of the congress. This was preceded, on the 10th of March, by the revolt of the garrison of Alessandria and the military revolution in Piedmont, which in its turn was suppressed, as a result of negotiations at Laibach, by Austrian troops. It was at Laibach, too, that, on the 19th of March, the emperor Alexander received the news of Ypsilanti’s invasion of the Danubian principalities, which heralded the outbreak of the War of Greek Independence, and from Laibach Capo d’Istria addressed to the Greek leader the tsar’s repudiation of his action.

The conference closed on the 12th of May, on which date Russia, Austria and Prussia issued a declaration (Hertslet, No. 108) “to proclaim to the world the principles which guided them” in coming “to the assistance of subdued peoples,” a declaration which once more affirmed the principles of the Troppau Protocol. In this lay the European significance of the Laibach conference, of which the activities had been mainly confined to Italy. The issue of the declaration without the signatures of the representatives of Great Britain and France proclaimed the disunion of the alliance, within which—to use Lord Stewart’s words—there existed “a triple understanding which bound the parties to carry forward their own views in spite of any difference of opinion between them and the two great constitutional governments.”

No separate history of the congress exists, but innumerable references are to be found in general histories and in memoirs, correspondence, &c., of the time. See Sir E. Hertslet, Map of Europe (London, 1875); Castlereagh, Correspondence; Metternich, Memoirs; N. Bianchi, Storia documentata della diplomazia Europea in Italia (8 vols., Turin, 1865–1872); Gentz’s correspondence (see Gentz, F. von). Valuable unpublished correspondence is preserved at the Record Office in the volumes marked F. O., Austria, Lord Stewart, January to February 1821, and March to September 1821.  (W. A. P.)