The Battle of Waterloo, Defeating the French and Ending Napoleon’s Reign

Napoleon Bonaparte was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18th 1815. Napoleon is a fascinating character in European history. His rise to power and subsequent downfall and exile are one of the most interesting studies in history. The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of his reign of power.

Following the French Revolution of 1892, Napoleon spent the next decade rising to power and consolidating his position. His meteoric rise was impressive. He was born to the Corsican nobility, but this gave him little advantage as money did not come with his status.

Napolean proved to be a talented military strategist and graduated from a French military school in 1785. It was not long before he could put these talents to the test, as he quikcly rose up through the ranks to become a respected military leader.

Until 1912 Napoleon’s military and political success had been huge, and largely unchecked. Napoleon took control of France in 1799 and became Emperor in 1804. His title was self proclaimed, but it was largely accepted by the people of France. His military and political success was outstanding. Napoleon’s rise and fall is a fascinating chapter of European history.

Napoleon made the mistake that many have in history which has caused their downfall. He invaded Russia in 1912. This proved to be a disaster. Napoleon was also suffering significant defeats elsewhere in Europe. The Peninsula War drove him from the Iberian Peninsula. Napoleon also suffered defeat in the Battle of Leipzig.

By 1914 Napoleon had suffered devastating and humiliating defeat. The collation forces had captured Pairs by March 1914. Napoleon was forced into exile on the island of Elba.

Most would agree that there are few places in the world better to spend a period of exile than the beautiful Italian island of Elba. Napoleon did not agree with this sentiment and plotted his escape back to the French mainland. He returned to Paris in March 1815.

His return sent shock waves around the rest of Europe. The British, Prussians, Russians and Austrians formed an alliance to stop Napoleon returning to power.

Napoleon wanted to launch an attack as a preemptive strike upon the Allies, so he invaded Belgium in March 1815. The British and Prussian armies were already stationed there in anticipation of an attack from Napoleon.

Initially Napoleon was successful and defeated the Prussian army. His battle with the British proved to be his final stand. The British army were well prepared and had noble assistance from Holland, German and Belgian forces. The numbers of troops on each side were pretty evenly matched, but the strategic operations of the Allies won the Battle of Waterloo.

Strategic errors allowed the Allied forces to muster support and the arrival of Prussian troops to assist in Napoleons defeat was a major factor.

It appears that Napoleons skills as a major tactician deserted him and he made mistakes in the Battle of Waterloo. He suffered a major defeat and was forced to abdicate once more in June 1815. This time he was exiled to the British held island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. We can speculate that he must have missed the idyllic island of Elba in the Mediterranean. He died aged 51 on May 21st 1821.

 


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