Napoleonic Wars

See also: European history

The Napoleonic Wars were the greatest wars of the 19th century. The wars started as the attempt of the ancién regimes of Europe to suppress the French revolution, but soon became a war of conquest with the intention of "revolution export" by France.

Understand

Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.Napoleon Bonaparte

Soon the revolutionary government was taken over by a young charismatic general from Corsica of the name of Napoleone Buonaparte (now known as Napoleon I or Bonaparte) and he crowned himself emperor of the French in 1804. After almost three decades of next to constant warfare in ever-shifting alliance that brought most of the continent much needed political reform but also "Napoleonic" puppet governments, Napoleon attempted an ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812 that led to his decisive defeat first near Leipzig and after escaping from exile on Elba near Waterloo in 1815. The war was also global in a sense, as both the War of 1812 in North America and the Haitian revolution can only be understood with the context of the French revolutions and the Napoleonic wars. The wars are sometimes known as "Coalition Wars" as the ever shifting alliances gave rise to a periodization along the lines of War of the First Coalition, War of the Second Coalition and so on.

Sites

Belgium

  Waterloo. Where Napoleon was finally defeated, now a universal symbol for defeat, not least due to the ABBA song

Germany

There is a rather bombastic   monument of the battle of Leipzig (Völkerschlacht in German) just out of town, that was erected in time for the first centennial (1913) and reflects the nationalistic taste of that time.

France

Napoleon himself is buried in Paris/7th arrondissement in the Dome des Invalides. There is a great Army Museum (Musée de l'Armée) next door that was founded in 1795 and expanded by Napoleon, but the current building dates from 1905. The   Vendôme Column, centerpiece of Place Vendôme, raised to commemorate the victory at Austerlitz, and   La Madeleine church, originally commissioned as the Temple de la Gloire de la Grande Armée ("Temple to the Glory of the Great Army"), are very significant monuments in this context, and should not be missed.

Great Britain

  Trafalgar Square in London is named for a decisive maritime battle off the coast of Spain.

Austria

Italy

South Atlantic

Napoleon was famously banished to Saint Helena after Elba proved too close to mainland Europe. Rumors of his poisoning by the British are long-lived though probably unjustified.

See also

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