Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Waterloo 200 years

Its two hundred years today since the Battle of Waterloo. Nearly 200,000 men in three armies fought in an area two and a half miles square. 

One question that gets a lot of course is 'What would have happened if Napoleon had won?'. In fact this was asked on the Radio 4 programme 'Any Questions' last week (and the panellists utterley failed to answer it imo).

I have just finished reading Alessandro Barbero's account, 'The Battle' (which I thoroughly recommend btw) and he offers an answer along these lines (I paraphrase). Liberal ideas would have been less marginalised in the period after 1815 and the second French Revolution in 1830 would not have happened. After that though history would not have been very different. Britain would still have been an economic powerhouse, Napoleon III would have become emperor of France and the Prussians would still have dominated Germany with all of the consequnces that lead to in the 20th Century. Correct? We'll never know.

The picture incidentally is one that I saw in the Rikjmuseum a couple of days ago. It depicts the moment when news is brought to Wellington of the arrival of the Prussians. In the foreground the Prince of Orange is shown, wounded.

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