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He met his Waterloo

The Napoleonic Wars, fought between 1803 and 1815, were led by Napoleon Bonaparte against the European powers. He was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars.

The revolutionary wars began in 1792 during the French Revolution. They were important as they changed the course of history and gave Napoleon the impetus to want to conquer Europe.

Supreme leader

Of the seven Coalition Wars, Napoleon won five. The first two coalitions were defeated during the French Revolutionary Wars, while the third at Austerlitz (Austria), the fourth at Jena, Eylau, and Friedland (Germany and Prussia) and the fifth coalition at Wagram, France.

The sixth was the Russian Campaign which began on June 24, 1812. Napolean’s army crossed the Neman river to fight the Russian army. But, the Russian army withdrew and employed scorched-earth tactics. The French army could find no food or shelter. Four months later, Napolean was forced to retreat. His army was discontent as they had neither food nor winter clothing. Of the 6,80,000 men that had entered, only 27,000 remained. It was a humiliating defeat. Allies, Prussia and Austria, broke away giving cause for the War of the Sixth Coalition.

In October, 1813, Napolean’s army fought in Leipzig, also called the Battle of Nations. Once again, he was defeated. On April 4, 1814, he abdicated by the Treaty of Fontainebleu and was sent into exile in Elba, a Mediterranean island with about 12,000 inhabitants.

He was given sovereignty over the island and allowed to retain the title of Emperor. At Elba, he created a small navy and army, developed the iron mines, oversaw the construction of new roads, issued decrees on modern agricultural methods, and repaired and restored the island’s legal and educational system.

Napoleon escaped from Elba, with 700 men and two days later, landed in the mainland. He marched north. Newly installed Louis XVIII escaped to Belgium and Napolean moved back to Tuileries.

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on June 18, 1815. Napolean’s army was defeated by the two armies of the Seventh Coalition – an Anglo-led Allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington and a Prussian army. Napolean was defeated, ending his 100-day reign. He surrendered and was exiled to a remote island Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. He died in 1821, at the age of 51.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 11:50:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/He-met-his-Waterloo/article14488612.ece

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