Friday, June 19, 2015
The Battle of Waterloo—200 years ago, on 18th June 1815—was the last great event that marked the end of that great historical process that was begun in 1789 by the Great French Revolution. With the defeat of Napoleon, the last flickering embers of the fires lit by revolutionary France were extinguished. A long, grey period settled down on Europe like a thick coat of suffocating dust. The forces of triumphant reaction seemed firmly in the saddle.
Waterloo is one of the defining events of European and world history. About that, there can be no doubt. It brought to an end the bloody Napoleonic Wars that had led directly to the deaths of up to 6 million people. Bonaparte, with his unbridled ambition, wanted to be Master of all Europe. But he came up against a solid phalanx of reactionary feudal monarchs: the Russian tsar, the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, always backed by the financial reserves and the naval power of Great Britain.