In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte wrapped up the short-lived French Republic, and crowned himself Emperor of the French. All he needed now was an empire, so he set about conquering Europe, but things did not go according to plan.
IN 1814, following a disastrous assault on Moscow and defeat in the Peninsular Wars at the hands of Arthur Wellesley, Napoleon was forced into exile as governor of Elba.
But after a few months, Napoleon simply collected a few hundred loyal men, and marched back to a hero’s welcome in Paris.
Outraged Britain and her allies at once despatched an army under the command of Arthur Wellesley, now the Duke of Wellington, for a showdown with Napoleon at Waterloo in Belgium, on June 18, 1815.
The British were severely tested all day, but towards the evening Prussian troops burst onto the battlefield, and together with the British put the French to flight. It was, said Wellington, ‘the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life’.
A month later, Napoleon gave himself up to Captain Frederick Maitland on board HMS Bellerophon.
This time there was no sensational escape. Napoleon was banished to the island of St Helena, where he died six years later.
See also The Peninsular War.