Metternich is usually dismissed, especially by Bonapartists, as a reactionary with no effect on Europe. However as this helpful introduction to the Austrian Chancellor argues, his influence was perhaps broader and longer-lasting than Napoleon's.
'Born at Coblenz. His father was a diplomat. Received an excellent education. In Strasbourg at the beginning of the Revolution; shocked by its excesses. Rose steadily in the Austrian diplomatic service; Ambassador to France, 1806. Urged Austrian declaration of war in 1809 because of exaggerated reports of French losses in Spain. Austrian foreign minister, 1809. His policy was directed toward strengthening Austria while retaining, insofar as possible, her international freedom of action. Favored marriage of Maria Louisa to Napoleon as a means to this end. From 1812 on, played a delicate game, seeking to make Austria the arbiter of Europe, curbing in turn French, Russian, and Prussian power. For years the most powerful European statesman. Personally conservative, and the servant of the stupidly reactionary Emperor Francis, he opposed all liberal movements. Driven from office by the Vienna revolt of 1848.'
'Handsome; 'exquisite' manners; keenly, if narrowly intelligent. Patient, patriotic, and courageous. Probably the most effective diplomat of his day, expert in the tangled intrigues and double-dealing that his position required. Occasionally, too clever.'
-A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars by Vincent J Esposito and John R Elting, Character Sketches.
'…Metternich was aristocratic, courageous, devious as a basket of snakes, and a sworn foe of the French Revolution-'a gangrene which must be burnt out with a hot iron.''-Esposito/Elting Atlas, Introduction to the Leipzig Campaign.
Metternich's ancestral estates were lost when the French occupied and annexed the Rhineland and Metternich's serfs were freed.
This was probably the basis for his hatred of the French Revolution which he carried on when dealing with France and Napoleon.