The Objects

12th May 1815

Source: © National Trust
National Carriage Museum

A Travelling Chariot

Contributed by: Katherine Astbury

The Allies who had gathered in Vienna to thrash out a plan for peace found themselves having to address questions of political legitimacy in the spring of 1815, given that the people of France had welcomed Napoleon’s return. They issued a new protocol on 12 May 1815, reaffirming their opposition to Napoleon, denying him any legitimacy and insisting that the French people had lost the right to decide their own form of government. They justified this hard-line stance on the grounds of stability – with Napoleon as head of state, ‘a new explosion’, as they put it, would be inevitable and Europe could not enjoy peace and prosperity without removing him from power.

The plenipotentiaries who signed the almost daily protocols were supported by a host of secretaries. Gibbs Crawfurd Antrobus (1793-1861) was a junior British attaché at the Congress of Vienna from late 1814 until August 1815. This is believed to be the carriage he used whilst undertaking his diplomatic responsibilities there. It is one of the oldest in the National Trust Carriage Museum at Arlington Court. The carriage could seat two and included a compartment at the back for Antrobus’s sword. It could be pulled by post horses for long journeys but then converted to town use for a coachman to drive.

After the Congress of Vienna, Antrobus was appointed Secretary of Legation to the United States and became an MP in 1821.