The balance of power was an equilibrium of power in Europe after the Napoleonic wars. The system relied on a system of political alliances that would balance the potential aggression by one nation against the combined power of other nations. This balance of power prevented one nation from imposing its will on other nations. With a few exceptions (such as the Franco-Prussian War), the system worked to keep the continent generally free of war until the outbreak of the First World War.
- North writes that historically there have been two ways to consolidate power: integration by empire, that is, by conquest as in the case of the Huns and Mongols; or by consent, as initially in the case of the United States. Conquest attempts to break down the notion of balance of power between sovereign states while consent attempts to redefine issues and mutual identity at a global level.