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1 November 2015 / leggypeggy

Where Napoleon met his Waterloo

Waterloo and the Lion Mound

Waterloo and the Lion Mound

Our trip to Europe wasn’t all about art, galleries and museums. We managed to cram in villages, valleys, restaurants (of course), markets, wineries, landmarks, cycling and even a battlefield.

That battlefield was the famous Waterloo, in what is now Belgium, where Napoleon met his defeat in June 1815, and stepped down as emperor of France.

Now I’m not going to give you a lengthy history lesson—you can look that up if you’re really interested in more detail—but here’s a brief rundown.

In 1814 and after a military retreat from Moscow, Napoleon abdicated the throne in France and was exiled to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, he escaped from Elba and returned to Paris, where he regained supporters and reclaimed his title as emperor.

Lion on Lion Mound

The Lion on Lion Mound

As a restored emperor, he re-gathered an army and set a goal of bringing Europe under French control.

The next few months are known as The Hundred Days or Napoleon’s Hundred Days. The period ended in July 1815 when King Louis XVIII was returned to power after Napoleon ‘met his Waterloo’ and relinquished his title.

So a bit about the battle
The battle involved almost 200,000 men, 35,000 horses, 500 cannons and seven European countries. Napoleon’s army faced two other armies—a multinational army led by the Duke of Wellington and a Prussian army led by Gebhrart Leberecht von Blücher.

Both Napoleon’s and Wellington’s armies were near Brussels when the fateful day began. Blücher and his army were much farther away.

It had rained heavily overnight and the battlefield was sodden. It’s possible that Napoleon’s decision to delay his attacks until the ground dried a bit may have cost him victory because it allowed Blücher to arrive at Waterloo.

You can check this website for more detail about how the battle progressed during the day, but I’ll jump to the end.

The attacks were vicious and bloody, but Wellington’s and Blücher’s armies managed to stop Napoleon’s march towards European domination. Wellington secured a peace deal with France and became Britain’s prime minister in 1828. Napoleon was exiled to St Helena, a small island off the coast of South Africa, where he died in 1821.

The site today
Waterloo’s terrain has changed. You can make out some of the ridges where battles were fought, but today’s main hill—Lion Mound—was created from soil nearby. This clip shows how the area might have looked in 1815.

Of course, we had to climb up the mound and walk as many of the pathways that were open for view. It’s sad to think how many lost their lives that day.

And a final footnote
Waterloo is also where Poor John captured his latest walking convert.

Food
And if you’re hungry, try out one of the recipes on my cooking blog.

32 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Fife Photos and Art / Nov 1 2015 10:57 pm

    Very interesting post Peggy, and excellent photos 🙂 It’s the first time I’ve seen the present day Waterloo battleground.

    Like

  2. Lynz Real Cooking / Nov 2 2015 1:44 am

    Wonderful post! I had no idea he had been exiled and then returned!! Very interesting Peggy! ha ha love the cute pictures of poor John and his buddy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. susan@marsha'sbungalow / Nov 2 2015 3:05 am

    I must say that following Poor John and his converts around is as entertaining as any historical tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2015 7:39 am

      I should do an entire post on Poor John and his converts. There are lots.

      Liked by 1 person

      • susan@marsha'sbungalow / Nov 2 2015 8:40 am

        As I took my walk this morning, I thought of a fun idea: on our travels we (all the bloggers) can send you photos of us walking all over the world, each of us strolling ‘Poor John’ style. You’d probably in one blog post cover most of the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2015 11:50 am

        I already have quite a few photos of him (and others) walking that way in different parts of the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Andrew Petcher / Nov 2 2015 3:11 am

    Looks peaceful there now, difficult to imagine how horrific the battle must surely have been!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2015 7:40 am

      Yes, the carnage is impossible to imagine, although the displays in the round building (shown above) are quite graphic and complete with battle noises.

      Like

      • Andrew Petcher / Nov 2 2015 7:57 am

        What would be worse, Agincourt, Waterloo or the Somme?

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      • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2015 8:27 am

        Depends on what you’re measuring. Overall number of deaths would be the Somme.

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  5. afterthelasttime / Nov 2 2015 3:58 am

    Nice entry, Peggy! We’ve all of course read and re-read the Battle at Waterloo and of course just like the US Civil War so many dead soldiers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. milliethom / Nov 2 2015 10:34 am

    What a great post, Peggy. I’m always interested in historical events and the story of Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo always fascinates me – especially with your wonderful photos! It was a momentous battle and, as you say, one that took so many llives. John certainly looks quite happy with his new friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2015 11:08 am

      Waterloo was such a famous battle. And even though I’ve been to Belgium many times, it was my first visit to Waterloo. And so funny to watch Samuel. His dad, Jean-Mi, was our first exchange student. He spent six months with us back in 2000.

      Liked by 1 person

      • milliethom / Nov 3 2015 3:00 am

        There’s nothing like seeing the real thing – the actual sites of battles or other momentous events. It beats museum displays, hands down. I’d love to see Waterloo, too, one day – as well as all the WW1 and WW2 sites in Northern France and Belgium. Your travels are certainly taking you to some great places. How lovely to meet up with Jean-Mi again, too. His little son looks adorable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Nov 3 2015 12:49 pm

        I hope you get to Waterloo. I’ve certainly enjoyed the places your blog has taken me since I found it. And Jean-Mi is part of our family now. We’ve been to Belgium several times to see him and he’s come to Australia two more times. We’ve had great relationships with all our exchange students.

        Like

  7. Curt Mekemson / Nov 2 2015 12:09 pm

    Interesting history, Peggy. I am reminded of Gettysburg, which was also ever so bloody but looks so peaceful and bucolic today. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2015 2:27 pm

      Gosh, that’s a great comparison, Curt, even if I’ve never been to Gettysburg it lets me imagine.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Curious to the Max / Nov 2 2015 12:39 pm

    Your photos are always wonderful – you’ve outdone yourself waiting for just the right moment for the horses to fall over – almost as exciting Peggy as the bare breasted women . . . almost.

    And love the pictures of Poor John and his latest walking partner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2015 2:29 pm

      I took a lot of pictures of the display panels but liked the one of the horses falling over best. I’m a sucker for horses—and pictures of Poor John and his walking companions.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jane / Nov 2 2015 4:52 pm

    I am fascinated and also saddened by war history. Thanks for sharing this interesting information and pics about Waterloo. Some details were new to me. A post about John and his walking converts would be a laugh! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2015 5:11 pm

      Yes, so much of war history is heartbreaking. And as for a post on Poor John, I’ll have to get to work on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Peter McKay / Nov 4 2015 6:49 pm

    Great post Peggy
    It brings back great memories
    Trish’s uncle and aunt once lived on the edge of Waterloo battleground.
    When we stayed with them we walked to the lion monument to soak in the import and historical significance. Of course this was wasted on the girls as the highlight of the day became the collection of freshly ripened wheat off the battle fields. This was hand ground and cause of an authentic Belgium pasta that evening. All great fun.
    Enjoy
    Peter McKay

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2015 7:43 pm

      Oh wow, Peter, what a great comment. I can just imagine your girls marvelling at the wheat and you admiring the lion. Now if only Poor John had just been there to teach them the walk. 🙂

      Like

  11. federica pedullà / Dec 1 2015 8:28 am

    Very interesting this story Peggy! Thank you.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Dec 1 2015 8:18 pm

      Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      • federica pedullà / Dec 1 2015 9:05 pm

        Good morning Peggy! I’m very happy to visit you. A hut

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Dec 1 2015 10:17 pm

        I like visiting your blog too. 🙂

        Like

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