This article examines Austrian policy towards the Italian states from the Congress of Vienna to the revolutions of 1848. It argues that the paramount concern of Habsburg policy was not revolution, but rather the maintenance of a hegemonic position in the peninsula against threats from the Habsburgs’ traditional enemy - the French. Revolution caused significant concern only because it might provide the French with a pretext for intervention in the peninsula. Consequently a number of strategies were adopted both to forestall insurrection (vigorous policing, encouraging moderate reform programmes, armed intervention), and to retain influence over the peninsula's rulers (diplomatic pressure, dynastic and military alliances, promises of assistance against unrest). However, by the 1830s the Austrians were faced by increasing challenges to their position of dominance. This was in part because of the personal ambitions of individual Italian rulers, but it also reflected the changing situation in Paris after the July Revolution, and in Vienna after the death of Francis I.