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Battle of Waterloo: Why it still matters, 200 years later

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Manmohan Yadav, Jun 19, 2015.

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  1. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Kings and commoners are gathering at Waterloo to mark the battle’s bicentenary in a show of European unity not seen for a major anniversary at the site since history changed course there on June 18, 1815.

    Prince Charles led a host of dignitaries Wednesday to kick off four days of commemorations of the battle that ended Napoleon’s French domination of the continent. The event has been heralded by a flurry of academic reassessment of the conflict and renewed debate, and discomfort, over its meaning for Europe today.

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    On Wednesday, Prince Charles unveiled a memorial at the lovingly restored Hougoumont farm and surveyed the battlefield with the descendants of the troop leaders – the Duke of Wellington and Prince Charles Bonaparte of France. Through Saturday, some 5,000 re-enactors will roll the drums, fire the guns and cannons and walk through the gunpowder smoke, only to come to the same result: Napoleon lost.

    It is a contrast not just to the 1915 centenary, under First World War German occupation, but also to 1965, when France snubbed British events for the 150th anniversary. Its president, Charles de Gaulle, was busy keeping Britain out of the Brussels club while, deep in the Cold War, West Germany and Belgium muted celebrations for fear of alienating France, a key NATO ally against the Soviet Union.

    Now, as the EU faces new struggles to keep Britain (and Greece) in and a resurgent Russia out, part of the exercise lies in reviving the name of Waterloo.

    France: The nation is still ambivalent toward the gore and glory of the Napoleonic dictatorship that followed a revolution in the name of liberty. Paris used its rights in the EU currency system to block Belgium from issuing a commemorative euro coin for the battle – only to be outflanked when the Brussels mint last week issued Waterloo coins anyway, albeit as mere souvenirs.

    Germany: The German people fought for Britain’s Hanoverian king and in Marshal Bluecher’s Prussian army, whose arrival saved the day for the Duke of Wellington and his Dutch allies. Today, Germans take a more positive view of the war than the French do. “If anniversaries help people better understand the idea of Europe, that’s great,” argued Kurt Kister, editor of Munich’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung. “Despite the euro crisis, the far-right and EU-fatigue, the old continent is in a better, more peaceful state than ever. It’s a while since French, Germans and English have shot each other.”

    Britain: With the British government planning a referendum soon on quitting the EU, Eurosceptic commentators have evoked Napoleon, and later Nazi German efforts to unite Europe by force, as symbols of what they see as a new continental tyranny emerging from Brussels. Yet notable among new studies by British historians are some that give Germany as much credit for the victory as Britain, and a BBC primetime documentary that portrays Bonaparte as an enlightened lawgiver and genius, far from the “19th-century Hitler” of popular legend.

    In Waterloo

    For locals in the Brussels commuter belt, the anniversary is about tourism. They expect 200,000 visitors this week, who will be able to see a new visitor centre as well as Wellington and Bonaparte’s bicorn hats, reunited at the town museum.

    In Elewijt, just north of Brussels, a Belgian-Dutch group is acting out the lives of soldiers of the Belgian 7th Battalion of the Line that fought with the British. While most people’s attention will be focused on British and French troops, this small contingent of the 7th Battalion of the Line is determined to show the general public that the Belgians and Dutch, as a unified group, also played their part in defeating Napoleon.

    Their day begins with a breakfast cooked over the open fire, scrambled eggs, bread and sausage meat. The troops then prepare for a tent and weapons inspection. After inspection, the group spends the rest of the day performing drills – from marching in formation and to firing weapons in mock battle.
     
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  2. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    The outcome of this battle was turned the moment Prussians arrived on the starboard flank of French army. They cut off the retreat route of French army and linked up with British army at two points, one was at the head of the battle and second was at the rear of the French. Had the Prussians been late by another couple of hours or Napoleon had launched his attack a couple of hours earlier, The result of Waterloo wud have been very different.
     
  3. positron

    positron Captain FULL MEMBER

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    The only thing that was going good for the Froggies was gone !! And the Froggie citizens then started to curse Napoleon !!!!
     
  4. Big Pic

    Big Pic Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Shut up, scumbag.
     
  5. positron

    positron Captain FULL MEMBER

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    Waterloo was the end of the French dream of world domination, after that French were never the power again.
    Also Waterloo was thanks to over confidence of some of the French Generals who went for selfish Glory and missed the game.
    And well there was a point when Napoleon was sick and the entire French top brass had no idea what to do.
     
  6. Big Pic

    Big Pic Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    I guess that you have not reach your own domination for acting like an idiot. The big losers of those wars was Europe, and the three others majors wars. Now, Europe lives in peace.
     
  7. positron

    positron Captain FULL MEMBER

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    It is funny, when the Froggies were winning, the Froggies were happy, and when they were beaten badly by Tag team of various countries, you say Europe lost? When Napoleon came to power in "democratic" France as a dictator, he was seen as a saviour. Surely because that time France had already lost a lot and there was nothing more to lose. But then with the rise of napoleon and all the misery in France it seemed better to join the Army and teach the European monarchies a lesson in "democracy" so the French attacked the various countries that they felt threatened by.
    Someone did say that France felt threatened by many countries, but then what is the logic to march till Moscow if it was not the desire to conquest?
    Anyway Waterloo is a classic masterpiece of how situation changes and how the French army which was on brink of winning against the combined armies of England, Prussia, Austria and others, lost in a very very bad way. And after that it was just rows of defeats.
    Napoleon lost due to tactical mistake and then France was never the power again.
     
  8. positron

    positron Captain FULL MEMBER

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    The English defeated the combined Franco Spanish fleet at Trafalgar (with loss of Admiral Nelson) and there is memorial of this famous victory called Trafalgar Square. And the Victory at WATERLOO was impressive. One of the most important Station in England is WATERLOO. Impressive. And when the Froggies visit these places they should realise that these places boast of how badly the English beat them and became the super power that ruled almost the entire world for 100 more years.. For the Froggies it was a lost chance to be what England became.
     
  9. INDIAN NATIONALIST

    INDIAN NATIONALIST Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    This view strikes me as lacking a great deal of nuance. The Wars were incredibly transformative in many ways.

    For one, they massively accelerated development of science and technology. Think about it. EM communication, electronics, aeronautical engineering, nuclear sciences, and just basic stuff like food preservation technology.

    Sure, these things would have happened eventually, but the major wars were major source of motivation for Western powers to develop and refine their economies and societies for effectiveness.

    Even socially, the wars produced reform at an unprecedented rate. England used to be incredibly socially stratified. Existential threat posed by 2 World Wars obliterated a millenium of cultural baggage.

    In fact, all world powers today have had some sort of rivalry with their neighbors. Unless a nation's culture is particularly enlightened, humans naturally tend to stagnate until they're pushed by some outside force. Again, not saying it's inevitable; that's just the way things were, and it requires a very great deal of cultural wisdom to overcome our retrograde tendencies.

    Maybe I'm being overly cynical, but I don't see Europe opting to end institutional anti-semitism but for the atrocities of the holocaust. I'm certainly not arguing the holocaust was necessary for reform; that's for the victims and their families to decide; but it's at least evident that Jews are not living in fear of officially sanctioned pogroms any longer thanks to Europe having to look itself in the mirror.

    Europe was "dethroned" for a while from its position at the top in economics, sciences, and arts. But at least in my view, all outcomes in nations are a function of a handful of fundamentals: intellectual capital, technology / infrastructure available to industry, economic culture (inclusiveness and nature of participation of citizens toward some common economic interests). Excluding extreme circumstances like oil-rich nations, one does not find fully modern and competitive nations that do not have coincidence of all three fundamental variables.

    Therefore, the only way I see WW2 exacting a lasting influence on Europe's place in the world is by changing the dynamics of its population by killing off certain demographics of the population.
    Otherwise, with reference to every other variable, Europe wasn't conquered and thus should have been able to rebuild and eventually approach or exceed the state it would've been in had the wars not occurred, just as developing nations can expect to approach their more developed counterparts. That deficit in development is not indefinite because rebuilding or developing always requires less investment than "pushing-the-envelope" when you're already at the apex.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2015
  10. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Now now guys, lets not be aggressive with each other
     
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