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How the French won Waterloo (or think they did)

Napoleon’s decisive defeat? Nonsense! It was a moral victory. Or at least a score draw…

13 June 2015

9:00 AM

13 June 2015

9:00 AM

Three weeks ago, a journalist from Le Figaro asked France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs who would be attending the 200th anniversary ceremony at Waterloo. ‘When is it?’ was the reply.

Two centuries on, the French are still in denial about Waterloo. To understand why, you have to bear in mind a quotation by the 19th-century historian Jules Michelet, who declared that: ‘The war of wars, the combats of combats, is England against France; all the rest are mere episodes.’ The defeat at Waterloo was the humiliation of humiliations, almost impossible to countenance.

French chauvinists still refuse to accept that Napoleon really lost. (Napoleon himself had declared: ‘History is a series of lies on which we all agree.’) For example Dominique de Villepin, French prime minister from 2005 to 2007 and author of several books about Napoleon, called Waterloo a ‘defeat [that] shines with the aura of victory’. His argument seems to be that by standing alone against Britain, Prussia, Russia and Austria (to name only his most important adversaries), Napoleon was the tragic hero of his era, who effectively scored a moral victory on 18 June 1815.

Even this line, though, is subtle compared to Victor Hugo, who appears to have believed that the defiance of General Cambronne changed the whole meaning of the battle. ‘The Garde knows how to die,’ Cambronne is supposed to have pronounced, ‘but not how to surrender.’ In fact Cambronne, who lived on until 1842, denied saying anything of the sort. Another version tells that when called upon to surrender, he had shouted back ‘Merde!’ ‘Unleashing deadly lightning with such a word,’ wrote Hugo, ‘counts as victory.’


Cambronne’s riposte became part of French mythology, breeding notions of ultimate triumph. Villepin explains that after Waterloo, impoverished France turned its back on the British-led Industrial Revolution and concentrated on small-scale production — of clothes, scents, luxury goods — creating industries of global significance today. Where, by contrast, are England’s factories?

French historians who acknowledge the débâcle at Waterloo explain it away. Napoleon had haemorrhoids at the time, they remind us. There is also talk of a bladder problem, even syphilis — anything to establish he was below peak fitness for the big match.

Then of course he was let down by his marshals — Ney led the cavalry into attack too early in the battle; Soult contrived to lose vital orders; de Grouchy breakfasted on a strawberries when he should have been scouring the countryside for the Prussians.

The most virulent French criticism has been reserved for the greatest marshal of all: God. Heavy rain the night before the battle created sticky mud which made it difficult for Napoleon to move his cannon, and delayed his attack. June is Belgium’s fourth wettest month; nevertheless Hugo declared the downpour supernatural. In Les Misérables, he states that Napoleon ‘bothered God’, who considered that the Corsican was usurping the course of history. Hence the monsoon. ‘Waterloo was not a battle,’ Hugo concludes, ‘it was a change in direction of the universe.’

Even so, the Bonapartistes believe, Wellington had been soundly beaten, and was saved only by the arrival of Blucher’s Prussian troops. In fact, Wellington would not have given battle but for the assurance of Blucher’s support. Nevertheless, in Napoleon’s report, dictated two days after the battle, he stated that by late afternoon, ‘the army was able to look with satisfaction upon a battle won and the battlefield in our possession’. He went on to describe the Prussians’ intervention and the subsequent French rout. The clear implication was that the day had been tied one-all, and he wanted a rematch.

Many French voices are unaffected by all the mythologising. Politicians of the left are disinclined towards sympathy for a war leader who censored the press and reintroduced slavery in his colonies. Former Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin recently published a tome with the title Le Mal Napoléonien. But to such reasoning the Emperor’s devotees always have a simple answer: ‘Merde!

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Stephen Clarke’s How the French Won Waterloo (Or Think They Did) is available in French under the shortened title Comment Les Français Ont Gagné Waterloo.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
  • carl jacobs

    So have some sympathy. It hasn’t been a good 200 years for France. The defeat at Waterloo marks the end of the last time France was historically relevant. Since then, France hasn’t been much more than a mound of dirt upon which the Germans have stood in their rise to continental prominence. France even got its seat on the UNSC gratis when it should have been tossed in with the other collaborationist nations.

    Not an easy outcome for a nation that sees itself as the center of civilization.

    • Speedy

      To be fair, they did pretty well between 1914-1918

      • carl jacobs

        France by itself would have lost World War I and in relatively short order. Britain fought precisely because it feared German victory. France fought better in 1914 than in 1940. But consider the paucity of that standard. France didn’t fight at all in 1940.

        • The Legion

          France did fight in 1940. But neither France nor the UK were ready to fight a modern war. You shouldn’t let your gallophobia blind you…

          • carl jacobs

            France fought? Where was France in 1936 when Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland? Where was the great French offensive in 1939 when the entire Wehrmacht was in Poland? Where was France during the first eight months of the war? Hiding behind the Maginot line.

            The French defense at the Meuse collapsed at basically the first shot. The Battle of France was already lost to France by 15 May. The rest was just retreat and route. So France made a separate peace (which it had pledged not to do) and proceeded to accommodate itself to the idea of inevitable German victory. If it hadn’t been for the courage of Winston Churchill, western civilization would have ended in Europe in the spring of 1940. And you say France fought?

            No nation besides Germany bears more guilt for the calamity that was WW II. It was France that demanded punitive sanctions in 1919. It was France that didn’t have the courage to enforce them. It was France that didn’t have the will to face Hitler when he was still weak. It was France that lost a major war in less than one week and so risked the existence of civilization. There is a reason Churchill had to sink the French fleet at Mers El Kebir. It wasn’t because of French courage.

            My father fought harder for France than the French. And he was in combat for only 31 days in July & August of 1944.

          • The Legion

            I respect what your father did, and I’m very glad for it, but that’s no reason for belittle what others did. My grandfather fought the Germans for at least two years and his sister and her husband were deported to a concentration camp for helping people flee the Germans. So I don’t have any lesson to take.
            The thing is that France and the UK were tired countries after WWI, and they were hoping that Hitler wasn’t crazy enough to start a new war. And when the war started, it was too late. The Maginot-line did its job, but the German went through Belgium, their highway to France.
            Chamberlain wasn’t a courageous guy, was he? He wasn’t very strong at Munich against Hitler. And the UK wasn’t really ready for war, for instance the Spitfires weren’t there at the beginning of the war.
            You should then look who was fighting the Germans so that English and French could leave Dunkirk. You should as well take a look at who was fighting the Germans in Narvik, Norway. And the Italians never succeeded to enter France when the French army was collapsing in front of the Germans.

          • Kennybhoy

            “My father fought harder for France than the French.”

            Christ Jesus are you trying to live down to a stereotype? For shame sir! 🙁

          • carl jacobs

            What stereotype is that? The “Tell the truth about France” stereotype? What I said is factually true. All of it. People have no difficulty criticizing the Germans or the British and certainly not the Americans for their conduct in that war. (I personally know the last assertion is true because I hear it all the time.) I am not going to give France a pass simply because it didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to avoid conquest.

            I cannot emphasize this enough. France’s failure almost caused the end of Western Civilization in Europe. How close did England come to suing for peace at the end of May in 1940? If Hitler had smashed the Dunkirk bridgehead, how could it have been avoided? Hitler came within an eyelash of winning the war in the spring of 1940 – and he did so because the French didn’t have the stomach for a fight. Not in 1933. Not in 1936. Not in 1939. Not in 1940.

            You don’t measure the fight of an army by the casualties it takes. You measure its fight by the casualties it inflicts. The Wehrmacht bragged about how low its casualties were in France. Why do you suppose that was? And the reputation of the Wehrmacht was first established by its conquest of France. That was the first peer power it engaged. How much should be credited to German prowess? How much to French incapacity?

            As I said above, the situation was non-recoverable by 15 May. The French Army was beaten in six days. Where was its fight if it could be beaten in six days? And it wasn’t just the invasion. It was the lack of any response to the invasion of Poland. It was the lack of any offensive action at all at any point in its brief participation. France sat behind its useless inert land fort and handed the strategic initiative to its enemy. Then it was hit in the face, and completely collapsed.

            Of this army Churchill said “Thank God for the French Army.” His faith was somewhat misplaced. If the French had moved so much as a Regiment in March 1936, Hitler might have been shot. But the French didn’t have the stones.

          • Muawiyah

            Met a fellow in Germany on a train ride from Frankfort to Koln who’d been a POW captured at Dunkirk. He spent most of WWII on a sugar beet plantation in Arizona.

            He was currently a sugar beet sugar broker, and actually kept a home in Phoenix. Guy loved Arizona; disliked Europe intensely but felt he was the luckiest man in that war!

        • Speedy

          They fought like lions in 1914-18 and suffered 1.5 million dead. Admittedly they were not nearly as good in 1940. But let’s be honest, neither were the British.

          • carl jacobs

            But France still would have lost the war with Germany absent British intervention. On its own, France would have collapsed.

            As for the BEF in 1940, it was hung out to dry by the collapse of the French Army. Its not fair to draw any conclusions from that campaign.

        • Kennybhoy

          Agreed but it still disnae diminish the tenacity and sacrifice of the Poilus.

          As for 1940. Over a mere six weeks or so the better part of 100,000 Frenchmen died defending their country against what was probably the most effective war making machine this planet has seen since great Caesar’s day. Get a fracking grip man! 🙁

        • Muawiyah

          When my Uncle went ashore at Oran he had to fight French troops first!

          Yeah, they fought ~ on both sides.,

    • …. and what was France’s worst offence – ever. That which provoked the financial behind the French Revolution?

      Assisting the illegal uprising of the American colonies, that’s what. Le pourceaux.

  • mortsnerd

    Villepin, Hugo and all the other present-day Napoleone mythologisers lie athwart any French hopes of self realisation. They do not realise what primitive and backward values this narcissistic Corsican tyrant thug represents, values resolutely contrary to English and other constructive countries’ enlightened values of individual economic and personal freedom for all. Well, until PC and Keynes arrived in the Anglosphere, anyway.

    • “English and other constructive countries’ enlightened values of individual economic and personal freedom for all”

      Not at the time. In the early 1800’s it was the enemies of Napoleon that represented repression and feudalism. The English we not at all free, far from it. Wellington subsequently went on to be a repressive and conservative prime minister forced to resign before the great reform act of 1830. By today’s standards, Napoleon appears a tyrant, by the standards of the time, he was relatively enlightened – at least to his own people.

      • HJ777

        I don’t think so.

        Wellington was subservient to parliament – which would never countenance huge loss of life amongst his troops. Wellington was extremely careful with the lives of his men.

        Napoleon was not. He abandoned his army to its fate on more than one occasion.

        • True, Napoleon was horrificly callous to his own troops. In politics however, he was enlightened. He extended the vote and instituted the Code Napoleon, still the basis of law in much of Europe. He hated feudalism and slavery – still practised by his Austrian, Prussian and Russian enemies at the time.

          Wellington had no respect for his troops either – he felt they were scum and never addressed them en masse – he had to look after them because had very few of them and as you say, he had to answer to parliament.

          Wellington was a reactionary, curtailed the press and did not want to extend the vote to “lower classes of men”. He held Britain back and nearly caused the violent revolt he so feared. Not a hero by any means.

          • HJ777

            “Wellington had no respect for his troops either – he felt they were scum…”

            You need to read the whole passage in context. He was meaning precisely the opposite:

            “A French army is composed very differently from ours. The conscription calls out a share of every class — no matter whether your son or my son — all must march; but our friends — I may say it in this room — are the very scum of the earth. People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling — all stuff — no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children — some for minor offences — many more for drink; but you can hardly conceive such a set brought together, and it really is wonderful that we should have made them the fine fellows they are.”

            Indeed, Wellington is known to have cried when he saw the dead bodies of his men after battle.

            Wellington certainly was a ‘conservative’ (with a small ‘c’) but history shows us that an evolutionary approach to reform usually trumps a revolutionary approach. Napoleon was never elected – gained undemocratic personal control and even crowned himself emperor. Hardly enlightened.

          • Again, you have to view things from the standards of the time. The UK system was indeed by far the most advanced and democratic of the time, but the French was far better for its citizens than that of Prussia, Austria or Russia with solid rule of law and individual freedom for the poorer and middle classes. The poorest at the time suffered everywhere – including Britain.

            Napoleon was never elected – although he did secure 96% of a “vote” for him to become emperor – make of that what you will. His rise to power says little of his enlightened character. His coup was similar to that of Oliver Cromwell’s purge in 1649 yet while Napoleon is reviled, Cromwell has a statue in parliament square.

            The point is Wellington was against any approach to progress, evolutionary or revolutionary. As a reformer, Napoleon was vastly superior to Wellington who was at best an above average General and a poor Prime Minister.

          • HJ777

            “His coup was similar to that of Oliver Cromwell’s purge in 1649 yet while Napoleon is reviled, Cromwell has a statue in parliament square.”

            Ever heard of the Vendome Column? Napoleon is celebrated in France.

            Wellington was not against any reform. Indeed, he championed Catholic emancipation.

            And to describe Wellington as ‘at best an above average general’ is ridiculous. He never lost a battle, defeated all Napoleon’s top generals and then Napoleon himself (despite having only a hastily-assembled polyglot army) and secured for the British empire more territory than Napoleon ever achieved for France. He was simply the better general and one of the finest ever. Do not forget that at the time, France had huge resources – it was easily the most populous country in Europe (unless you count Russia as being in Europe) – twice that of Britain.

          • Kennybhoy

            “Napoleon is reviled…”

            Are you fracking serious? 🙂

          • HJ777

            I was merely quoting ‘The layman’s voice’ and disagreeing with him.

          • He is clearly reviled in the UK – which is what I meant. All I’m saying is we should remember there are similarities to a “hero” of our history – Cromwell – and not be so nationalistic in our view of him.

          • RoyBeers

            Reviled by Home Counties Eton types – admired by everyone else.

          • RoyBeers

            Bluster away – had the Germans busily occupied in the East been available in the West it would have been all over by 1915 at the latest. Instead of which the Americans won the war …

          • Wellington was not a great general by any standards. His achievements in India, although greater in terms on land area cannot compare to Napoleon’s victories at Lodi, Austerlitz, Jena, Auerstadt etc.. Napoleon won against the “best” generals of his time, Wellington won in Spain against a side show French army after 6 years, only as the rest of Europe marched on Paris. He didn’t defeat France’s greatest generals, he defeated Marmont in Spain, an incompetent Marshall.

            There is a reason Wellington hung a portrait of Napoleon in his house (Churchill had a bust of him in his office) – even he recognised Napoleon was the better general.

          • HJ777

            You are simply talking obvious rubbish.

            In Spain and Portugal, Wellington defeated everything that Napoleon threw at him – and sapped total French strength substantially.

            His generalship in India was simply brilliant. Napoleon may have called him a ‘Sepoy General’, meaning it as an insult, but Wellington took it as a compliment, knowing what excellent troops they were.

            And you conveniently overlook Napoleon’s disastrous strategic miscalculations and losses.

            Wellington had far fewer resources at his disposal yet was more successful. And why wouldn’t he have a portrait (and statue) of the man he defeated in order to remind people of who he defeated?

          • His victories in India were impressive – my previous comments do them a disservice, but this doesn’t make him the military genius that Napoleon was.

            The “everything the French threw at him” didn’t include Napoleon himself, or Murat, Ney, Lannes, Davout or any of the celebrated Marshalls of the Grand Armee – until Waterloo. You say it yourself, Wellington “sapped French strength” and that’s all he did.

            He did it well, admittedly, in poor conditions with few resources. The real victors over Napoleon however were Kutisov, Archduke Charles or even Barclay de Tolly or Bagration in Russia in 1812 – not forgetting Colonel winter. Nelson gets a mention here too, the real British hero.

            Where you’re correct is pointing out Napoleon strategic errors, the grossest obviously being the invasion of Russia. Wellington made few (if any) major errors, but again this doesn’t make him a great general, just a cautious one.

            Our British view, like WW2, is to believe we won it, when the majority of the kudos should go to our European allies, who did most of the fighting against Napoleon himself and the Grand Armee.

          • HJ777

            The French threw Napoleon at him at Waterloo – and lost.

            They threw other generals at him in Spain (e.g. Soult, not just Marmont, as you incorrectly claim), using Napoleon’s tactics, and lost every time. Wellington had worked out how to beat Napoleon’s tactics – the French didn’t learn.

            There was a huge drain on the French as Wellington gradually defeated their armies in Spain and then advanced into France (and defeated them some more). Without this drain, France would have been far, far, stronger in other areas of conflict.. And Wellington did this with a numerically inferior force.

            Wellington was not a cautious general – just one who prepared well for victory. It is a myth that he was primarily a defensive general – he took the offensive in a majority of his battles. And won.

            It was Wellington – not any other European general – that Europe turned to when Napoleon returned from Elba. If he had been the mere sideshow general you claim, why did they do that?

            Before debating this further, why don’t you brush up on the historical record? You’ve already admitted you were wrong about Wellington in India. You’re wrong about a lot else too.

            And let me leave you with a question. Had you been a soldier at the time, under which general would you rather have served? I’d suggest that if you wanted to win and survive, there is no contest – the answer is Wellington.

          • The fact that there was a Waterloo at all answers that question. There were plenty of soldiers at the time that flocked to his banner. In 100 days he went from exile to a “close run thing” at Waterloo against a coalition of enemies – not just Wellington. Blucher’s intervention is not mentioned in your analysis.

            No doubt France would have been stronger without the forces sent to Spain, I never disputed that – nor did I claim only Marmont faced Wellington in Spain although it was against Marmont that Wellington won his most famous battle of the campaign – Salamanca.

            I dispute the British view that Wellington was Napoleon’s equal – he wasn’t. One battle against a raw French army, way past its prime doesn’t mean he was a greater general.

            Wellington’s defensive tactics were innovative and won the day at Waterloo but cannot compare to Napoleon’s use of corps structures, marching in column, focusing forces for attack, his use of artillery or the “Manoeuvre De Derrière” that revolutionised warfare over the previous 2 decades.

            Wellington called Napoleon the greatest marshall he’d ever faced and Churchill called him the greatest man of action ever known to human records – I would agree.

            And for the record, I have a degree in European History so don’t lecture me on “brushing up my historical record” – it devalues your valid argument. It’s just I disagree with it.

          • HJ777

            Napoleon was, indeed, the greatest general Wellington ever faced. That is not in dispute. And Wellington was the greatest general Napoleon ever faced – and Napoleon lost.

            “One battle against a raw French army, way past its prime doesn’t mean he was a greater general.”

            At waterloo Wellington was commanding a hastily-assembled polyglot army, who didn’t even speak the same language. Indeed, he bemoaned his lack of his ‘Spanish army’. Funny that you didn’t mention that.

            Do me a favour with your ‘degree in European history’ nonsense. It doesn’t excuse being factually wrong.

            It is hard to see, given the resources at his disposal, how Wellington could have been more successful than he was. In contrast, Napoleon made huge strategic and tactical blunders – he just didn’t learn from his mistakes in the way Wellington did – and that is what made Wellington the superior general. He never lost and he never made the same mistake twice.

          • As brutal as it may seem, the well being of the troops is not the only measure of success of a general. I know who’s army I’d like to have been fighting for at Austerlitz.

            It’s also not necessarily about a win vs loss total – Muhammed Ali lost more fights but you don’t discard him when discussing the best boxer of all time because Frazier beat him.

            I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. I don’t believe I have written anything “incorrect” as you claim either.

            I just have a differing opinion.

          • ColinPowis

            Napoleon made more mistakes because he fought so many more battles and painted on a larger canvas
            We Brits seem to have our views clouded and impaired by patriotism …many Brits are narrow minded and fail to encompass the wider picture with an over-inflated view of our contributions both to the Napoleonic Wars , WW1 and WW2
            Indeed , it was our Allies who did the majority of fighting and dying

          • HJ777

            Come off it.

            Total command of the seas in the Napoleonic era. Cutting off Napoleon’s army in Egypt. Wellington’s Peninsula campaign and Waterloo.

            In WW1 it was the Royal Navy’s blockade that eventually brought Germany to its knees.

            None of which is to claim that Britain did it alone, but the British contribution was huge – as big as anyone’s.

          • ColinPowis

            Rubbish ..the Russian Army took on most of the Axis divisions until late 1917 ; France had a far larger army than Britain until 1918
            Without Hitler’s mad invasion of the Soviet union Britain would of signed an armistice ; they had zero chance of ever defeating Nazi Germany

          • HJ777

            The Russian army was defeated in 1917.

            Yes, there were more French troops. Did I say otherwise?

            The Royal Navy’s blockade of Germany was the decisive factor in the outcome of WW1, however. The Germans were simply starved of food and materials. Restaurants in Germany were serving meals of turnips.

            Strangely, Britain managed to defend itself for over two years when the USSR was allied to Germany in WW2. No sign of an armistice. The Russians later received key supplies of armaments without which it is highly debatable whether they would have survived.

            One of us is talking rubbish – it’s you.

          • ColinPowis

            Fantasist methinks , the Brit sea blockade wasn’t decisive , it was the US intervention and UK and French armies that forced an armistice on Germany in 1918
            The Allied supply of the Soviet Union ranged from about 8% to around 15% of what they actually used …3/4 of all German casualties were on the Eastern Front …read between the lines for christsake ..you’ve swallowed the patriotic propaganda , hook line and sinker !

          • HJ777

            A little education for you:

            http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/899/the-british-blockade-during-world-war-i-the-weapon-of-deprivation

            “While the land war certainly contributed to the Entente’s (Britain, France, Italy, U.S.) victory in 1918, it was the blockade that truly broke Germany’s back.

            I have had a detailed interest in the naval race leading up to WW1 and the naval situation and its effects during WW1, for over 20 years. There is barely a book on, or record of, the subject I haven’t read. If you’d like to know more, just ask.

            In WW2, British aid in the form of military equipment was decisive in key Russian battles that saved them from military defeat. And, of course, it was the dominance of the Royal Navy that allowed it to be delivered (notto mention starving Germany of resources)

            http://www.historynet.com/did-russia-really-go-it-alone-how-lend-lease-helped-the-soviets-defeat-the-germans.htm

            “researchers estimate that British-supplied tanks made up 30 to 40 percent of the entire heavy and medium tank strength of Soviet forces before Moscow at the beginning of December 1941, and certainly made up a significant proportion of tanks available as reinforcements at this critical point in the fighting. By the end of 1941 Britain had delivered 466 tanks out of the 750 promised.”

          • Kind of selective use of stats there, Russia lost 20,000 tanks in ’41, so while 450 odd were important, particularly as they got down to very few outside Moscow, it was Russian blood that won the day – not British tanks.

          • HJ777

            I never said it wasn’t Russian blood, but had Moscow fallen…

            And it was a very close thing – and the outcome might have been different without the British tanks in the right place at the right time constituting 30-40% of the Russian tanks in the battle of Moscow.

            Revisionist history tends to minimise the vital importance of the dominance of the Royal Navy in Europe and the Atlantic (and the Arctic) during both WW1 and WW2. Neither war would or could have been won without it.

            And even had the USSR won on its own, how free would Europe be today?

          • RoyBeers

            Moscow fell in 1812 – and Russia won.
            Russia won the Second World War, and would have done so – eventually – on her own.

          • HJ777

            Just like in the First World War, perhaps?

          • RoyBeers

            Not comparing apples with apples. Remember there was no western front when the Nazis invaded in 1941, yet thanks in part to Hitler’s spectacularly stupid generalship the Russians absorbed stupendous losses, moved their industry, and bled the Germans to death. In WW1 the Germans grabbed Ukraine, the Baltic and the Donbass, and would probably have been quite happy (for the time being) calling it quits at that.
            Certainly without the Russian commitment to WW1 1914-1916 the allies would have lost – the full force of the German empire would have conquered France before America could intervene.

          • HJ777

            The whole German strategy in WW1 was predicated on attacking and defeating the French first before attacking the Russians. This plan failed – nothing to do with the Russians.

            The Russians were then defeated even though the French and British weren’t.

            You are talking guff.

          • RoyBeers

            Mais non, c’est vous qui parlant le guff,
            You were comparing Russia’s wars of 1914 and 1941, and postulating that Stalin’s war would have worked out much as the 1914 one. I explained why that would not be the case.
            You omit from your thesis the small detail of the Russian Revolution; and the fact that in 1914 the Germans wanted to occupy useful bits of Russia but had no plans to rule the whole of the Russian Empire …. unlike Hitler.
            The French and British in 1914+ weren’t defeated because vast numbers of Germans were on the Eastern Front defeating the Russians: when the Russians went red in 1917 most of these headed back to the west -where they nearly won the war with the Kaiserschlacht of 1918.

          • HJ777

            “I explained why that would not be the case”

            No, you merely asserted it to be the case. Nobody is stupid enough to accept your assertions, least of all me.

            The Kaiserschlacht was a failure, by the way, just like the Schlieffen/Aufmarsch Plan.

            It might have been different, of course, had the Grand Fleet not kept the Germans bottled up and starved of resources, but obviously you won’t accept that the Royal Navy had any influence.

          • Muawiyah

            Later on direct shipments from the vast armaments facilities and agricultural capacity of the American Midwest (the warm part of old New France) served to give the Russians the food and equipment needed to push back and destroy the German armies.

            Something to think about when it comes to the French and Indian War (around 1754) ~ the Brits won and it is doubtful the Midwest would have become so productive and powerful if France had. They just weren’t into immigration!

          • Muawiyah

            It was the Spanish flu brought to the European front by American troops that secured the armistice

          • RoyBeers

            You’re talking mince about Wellington, but are on the right track by mentioning the sea. Nelson is the authentic British hero, and history’s greatest sailior, Ships and English Gold were what mattered – Wellington’s antics in 1815 are of literally no importance.

          • HJ777

            Of course, defeating Napoleon at Waterloo was of ‘literally no importance’.

            One of us is talking mince. Look in a mirror to find out who it is.

          • RoyBeers

            Spieglein, spieglein an der Wand … wer ist hubschest auf den Land? You are, chum!
            Leaving to one side the fact that Blucher won Waterloo, the Napoleonic project died at Leipzig in 1813 – although it certainly would not have seemed so at the time, 1815 was an irrelevant postscript.

          • HJ777

            You’ll recall that Napoleon, despite being outnumbered, had already beaten Blucher at Ligny.

          • RoyBeers

            I do indeed – and that Blucher had been ridden over by a regiment of cuirassiers. Nevertheless despite his staff urging withdrawal along his line of communication he insisted on marching the 2/3 or so of his army that was still capable of fighting to rescue the British. Lacking those 40,000 men (whom Wellington carefully excised from Siborne’s diorama of the battle) the British-Allied army would certainly have been annihalated.

          • HJ777

            You can’t even spell annihilated, let alone know what it means.

          • RoyBeers

            Ah …. si triste … once they start criticising your spelling you know you’ve got them on the run!

          • HJ777

            You are welcome to think that alongside all your other delusions.

          • RoyBeers

            (Translate) “You’re right, I haven’t got an answer, and I surrender, ignominiously, signed HJ777”.

          • HJ777

            Another of your delusions to add to the (very long) list.

            Enjoy your fantasy world.

          • RoyBeers

            Repetition!

          • HJ777

            “As brutal as it may seem, the well being of the troops is not the only measure of success of a general. I know who’s army I’d like to have been fighting for at Austerlitz.”

            We are comparing two generals over their careers, not looking at one particular battle in which one of them didn’t participate.

            My question wasn’t just about wellbeing of the troops. It was also about winning.

            If you look back at your posts you will see that you have made a number of incorrect statements. You have even admitted it in the case of Wellington’s achievements in India.

            And what about your claim that “Wellington had no respect for his troops either – he felt they were scum…” – that is a highly misleading claim about his view of them as the whole quotation makes abundantly clear.

          • “We are comparing two generals over their careers, not looking at one particular battle in which one of them didn’t participate”

            When comparing their achievements should I then discard all of Napoleon’s victories over 20 years against other well regarded generals – Mack, Kutuzov, Archduke Charles etc?

            It is simply my opinion that Napoleon’s achievements at Toulon, Austerlitz, Lodi, Jena, Auerstadt, Eylau, Wagram etc outweigh Wellington’s victories at Salamanca & Seringapatam (both times Wellington outnumbered his opponent – not with “inferior numbers” as you incorrectly claim).

            Napoleon was more innovative, more creative, more attacking and overall achieved more victories against better generals in bigger battles.

          • HJ777

            It was you who picked out just one battle, not me, when I asked you under whose command you would rather have been.

            Wellington had many other victories in which he was outnumbered. Assaye, perhaps (outnumbered by more than 5 to 1) . In the Peninsula war, Wellington did generally have inferior numbers overall, albeit sometimes a numerical advantage on the actual battlefield. In others he was outnumbered on the battlefield as well, eg. Bussaco, Fuentes de Onoro, Pyrenees – yet won.

            Napoleon had more troops than Wellington. That is hardly a criticism of Wellington. France was easily the most populous country in Western Europe and it maintained a much larger army.

            It is a myth that Wellington was primarily a defensive general. He beat every general put against him, including Napoleon.

            And I ask again, which innovative, creative, French tactics did Wellington fail to successfully defeat? He worked out ways to defeat them all and was a master of troop concealment – clearly showing the way forward.

          • I merely point out that Napoleon won a great many more battles against better generals than Wellington did.

            I was a little facetious to point out Wellington’s numerical superiority at Salamanca & Serigapatam as it could be argued that it was his good generalship that engineered those opportunities.

            You are right to point out troop concealment as an innovation that Wellington can take credit for and he used it to great effect at Waterloo nor that he didn’t lose to French tactical advances – partly as some had been copied by 1815 (notably the corps system so advantageous in 1805).

            Also, you’re correct that it was not Wellington’s fault he had fewer troops. However, coordination of a greater number of troops is far harder and and shows greater skill, setting Napoleon apart – although Wellington never had a chance to show it.

            In the Austerlitz campaign, Napoleon commanded a greater army than Wellington ever did and defeated 2 armies stronger than anything Wellington ever defeated. Could Wellington have done it – maybe, but in my opinion he was not the attacking genius required to defeat Mack at Ulm or the combined armies thereafter.

          • HJ777

            The numbers at Austerlitz were not so much greater than some of the battles in which Wellington was involved. When he did command an army of similar size (hastily assembled of numerous nationalities and languages), at Waterloo, he did rather well.

            And when did Napoleon ever win agains such an overwhelming numerical opposition advantage as Wellington did at Assaye?

          • The numbers – as you know – are only part of the story. Many of the Marathas at Assaye were irregulars that fled at the first bayonet charge, nothing like the trained European regulars of the continental campaigns.

            The armies of the Austerlitz campaign totalled the hundreds of thousands – the final battle being only part of the story – far stronger than anything Wellington fought.

          • HJ777

            I am still awaiting your answer on which of the supposedly superior innovations and tactics of Napoleon Wellington didn’t successfully manage to deal with.

            At Assaye, the opposition had more European trained infantry than Wellington. It also had over 30,000 cavalry.

          • Well he never faced a “maneauvre sur derriere” as he only faced Napoleon once – a silly question really. Napoleon should have done this at Waterloo, he was begged by his Marshalls – a mistake.

            The numbers at Assaye (regulars only) were about 10k each – would be considered a skirmish in the continental campaign.

          • HJ777

            So you agree that no Napoleonic innovation or tactic (and his generals, not just Napoleon, did use them) that was used ever worked against Wellington.

            Even you wouldn’t claim that the converse is the case.

            There were an additional 40k irregulars against him at Assaye in addition to to the regulars. And very many more cannon and horses. And more regulars.

          • I never claimed the converse btw… In fact Wellington used these innovations as well – e.g. the corps system and integrated artillery.

            Again, it is simply my opinion that on balance Napoleon won a greater number of bigger, more significant battles against stronger opposition than Wellington using tactics so successful they we adopted by all European armies by 1815.

            This makes him the stronger general.

            More than that, Blucher, Bennigsen and Schwarzenburg won the battle of Leipzig in 1814, a much larger and more significant battle than Waterloo in the defeat of Napoleon. If we judge a career on one battle, they deserve to be judged higher than Wellington.

          • HJ777

            The Battle of Leipzig was in 1913. Napoleon’s army was outnumbered by more than 70%.

            And only Waterloo eventually ended the curse of Napoleon.

            You forget that Napoleon also lost a number of significant battles – Wellington did not. After Napoleon’s early brilliance and successes, he failed to learn and improve (but his opponents did), and after about 1806 he suffered as many losses and near-disasters as he did victories.

            As Wellington observed of Napoleon’s army: ‘They came on in the same old way and we saw them off in the same old way”.

          • Apologies re: Leipzig, 1813, you’re correct.

            You’re also correct to say that Napoleon lost more battles than Wellington – however he won a great deal more too, and bigger more climactic, significant battles and campaigns.

            His talents waned as the years went by although this was as much to do with his opponents catching up with his innovations than anything else. It was only in 1809 he suffered his first significant defeat at the hands of the Austrians.

          • HJ777

            Eylau (1807) wasn’t exactly a triumph.

            You are omitting to acknowledge the numerical superiority of France and its greater population than other western European countries. Napoleon suffered a whole series of reverses and disasters – Egypt, Russia, Leipzig as well as many other less prominent examples.

            Precisely my point about Napoleon – his talents waned, but Wellington’s didn’t

          • RoyBeers

            1913?
            The “curse of Napoleon” never ended – the vacuum his departure created led to the birth of modern Europe and the ultimate demise of the absolutists.

          • RoyBeers

            Stop battering on about the “many nations in the army” nonsense – the French army included Italians, Poles, Germans galore, Spanish, Portuguese ….the hard core of the British army were the Germans, the Scots and the Irish.

          • HJ777

            “However, coordination of a greater number of troops is far harder and and shows greater skill, setting Napoleon apart”

            It’s equally hard for your opponents, so that proves nothing.

          • It means his opponents in these greater battles were of greater merit too – Kutuzov, Blucher, Bennigsen etc.. in comparison to Wellington. We never saw his abilities to command greater armies.

          • HJ777

            No it doesn’t. That is logically fallacious.

          • HJ777

            At Salmanca, the armies were of equal size:

            Marshall Foy’s opinion:

            “This battle is the most cleverly fought, the largest in scale, the most important in results, of any that the English have won in recent times. It brings up Lord Wellington’s reputation almost to the level of that of Marlborough. Up to this day we knew his prudence, his eye for choosing good positions, and the skill with which he used them. But at Salamanca he has shown himself a great and able master of manoeuvring. He kept his dispositions hidden nearly the whole day: he allowed us to develop our movement before he pronounced his own: he played a close game: he utilized the oblique order in the style of Frederick the Great.”

            So he doesn’t agree with you that Wellington was merely an ‘above average’ general lacking innovation.

            And Wellington went on to still greater victories.

            Napoleon’s generals repeatedly warned him about the qualities of Wellington – they did not consider him merely ‘above average’. Nobody but you holds this opinion.

          • Churchill favoured Napoleon – “the greatest man of action known to human records”

          • HJ777

            Greatest man of action, perhaps.

            He didn’t say that he was the greatest general. He described him as a ‘military tyrant’.

          • My guess is he probably would have gone for Malborough ahead of Wellington anyway…

          • RoyBeers

            And rightly so.

          • RoyBeers

            Foy’s comment on Marlborough is exactly right – “almost to the level of Marlborough”. Salamanca was a masterpiece …. but it was Wellington’s only masterpiece. His performance in 1815 was very poor – the result of being completely overawed and terrified by a superior opponent.

          • HJ777

            Frazier won 32 fights, lost 4 and drew 1.

            Ali won 56 and lost 5.

            Ali had easily the better win ratio. He beat Frazier twice. Frazier only beat him once.

          • Frank

            I cannot see that Napoleon’s Russian campaign was anything to write home about.

          • RoyBeers

            I’m not optimistic a letter home from the Russian campaign would actually arrive …

          • RoyBeers

            Wellington isn’t even on the radar. Junior League Division 2.
            Your “analysis” indicates you’ve maybe read one or two of the more popular Britnat mash-ups of the 1815 campaign and, I suppose, the works of Bernard Cornwell.

          • HJ777

            “Wellington’s defensive tactics were innovative and won the day at Waterloo but cannot compare to Napoleon’s use of corps structures, marching in column, focusing forces for attack, his use of artillery or the “Manoeuvre De Derrière” that revolutionised warfare over the previous 2 decades.”

            Name me a French tactic that Wellington failed to successfully deal with.

          • Old Nick

            The split infinitive ?

          • HJ777

            And what is supposed to be wrong about split infinitives?

            They are perfectly acceptable in English. English is not Latin.

          • Old Nick

            In Latin it is not possible to split infinitives, except in the case of the future infinitive, which many of the best authors split deliberately. Those who assume that the objection to split infinitives somehow derives from Latin merely display their ignorance of that tongue. The objection is infinitely simpler. What splits the infinitive is generally an adverb or adverbial phrase. Overusing adverbs (as any reader of Strunk and White could affirm) does more to clot the style and obscure the meaning than almost any other disease of discourse. Overusing them at that point of a phrase or clause where their force will be wasted often makes it necessary to read the phrase or clause twice – and you end with prose as difficult as that of Jeffrey, Lord Archer.

          • HJ777

            The objection to split infinitives in English is generally one of elegance. They are thus usually best avoided.

            However, this is not always the case. There are instances where avoiding the use of a split infinitive leads to inelegance or downright clumsiness, all in the name of avoiding something that is actually perfectly acceptable in English.

          • ColinPowis

            I agree with you , Napoleon was far superior ; Wellington reminds me of Montgomery in N Africa and Normandy cautious and plodding , or like one of Lincoln’s Generals during the Civil war ; Napoleon was more like Rommel or Robert E Lee

          • erikbloodaxe

            They lost too.

          • Plenty of great generals have lost battles.

          • Old Nick

            And the patient died cured

          • ColinPowis

            They lost because they were outnumbered and outgunned

          • RoyBeers

            You’re right on all counts – but Wellington created his own legend (for example falsifying the now notorious Siborne Diorama). The real British hero of that era is Nelson.
            Wellington was a second-rater.

          • Old Nick

            And Victor at Talavera

          • RoyBeers

            Yes – being flogged and abused in the British army must have been fun. You’re just being silly – Wellington was peripheral until 1815, and in that campaign had to be rescued by the Prussians. Second rater.

          • HJ777

            So peripheral that he kept between 200k and 300k French troops tied up in Spain (and defeated them).

            I agree, you are a second rater.

          • RoyBeers

            My – you don’t like anyone having a go atr your idol Old Hooky do you? Stop being so touchy! The real was was in central Europe – Spain was a fringe event which (as you rightly say) diverted resources to the margins. Even so it kept the Brits fully occupied till 1814.

          • RoyBeers

            Nah – a second rater. He ran a competent campaign in Spain, most of the time, but only with massive help from the Spanish (who kept losing, but kept coming back for more).

          • Muawiyah

            Churchill’s mother was an American ~ he knew his American history. Napoleon is writ large here although we call it the Louisiana Purchase!

          • Muawiyah

            Britain, if it’d played it’s cards right in 1776, would have been, by far, the largest European power ~ but they screwed up and lost the single largest source of economic power in the empire.

          • RoyBeers

            Absolute tripe. Apart from the fact he wasn’t in anything like Napoleon’s league as a general he was only a general – if you want a successful Brit general read up on Marlborough.

          • Kennybhoy

            Indeed.

          • RoyBeers

            Oh come off it – “elected”! There was no meaningful democracy in Britain before 1832 at the earliest, and Wellyboot was an exemplar of inherited privilege and corruption at its most unpleasant and regressive … worst Prime Minister Britain ever had. Napoleon was the biz – and still is.

          • HJ777

            I said Napoleon was never elected. He was a tyrant who brought disaster and occupation on France.

          • RoyBeers

            The Bourbons were tyrants. Their tyranny brought red revolution to France. Napoleon rescued France from the revolution and from the Bourbons.
            It was an age of tyrants and of tyranny – in Britain as in Russia, Spain, Austria and Prussia.
            Oh … the occupation of France didn’t last long.
            If you read your history post-Waterloo you’ll find the Frencg armies were back in Spain and in Italy within a few years.

          • Kennybhoy

            Nope. Surface gloss. He ran an authoritarian police state and extended same to those areas he conquered.

          • RoyBeers

            I think you might find everyone ran an authoritarian police state in those days ….

          • Kennybhoy

            “Wellington had no respect for his troops either – he felt they were scum…”

            Oh ff get yersel an eductation!

          • mdj

            He hated slavery so much he reinstated it in Haiti.

      • Muawiyah

        By just about anybody’s standards of the time Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t all that bad, and he, himself, was a great fan of America, as had been his wife Josephine (born in the Caribbean in fact). His grand nephew Napoleon III was certainly a hero for democrats all over Europe! (and of Italian nationalists)

      • RoyBeers

        His reign and its legacy were the birth of modern Europe – a dozen Waterloos couldn’t have set at naught the stupendous revolution he brought about.

    • Kennybhoy

      “… values resolutely contrary to English and other constructive countries’ enlightened values of individual economic and personal freedom for all.”

      Oliver Cromwell?

    • RoyBeers

      Dream on – Napoleon created modern Europe; you should be grateful you’re allowed to play some small part in it.

  • Jean Granville

    Waterloo marks the end of the last war between France and England, which is not a bad thing for both nations.

    • carl jacobs

      The rise of Germany had much to do with that. France ceased to be the force threatening to unite the continent under one power.

      • Jean Granville

        That’s right, but the French British alliance has been quite strong when you look at it.

      • Rush_is_Right

        Absolutely, if we seek a single reason that Britain and France are allies, look to the Kaiser.

        • Terry Field

          And what a disastrous error that was.
          If we had stayed out, the K would have been in Pareeeeee in 1914.
          Then the twenteeeeth C would have looked very diffrent!

    • Con Fused

      England and France have always been, and will ever be, at war. It is merely the degree of hostility that varies.

      • davidofkent

        Nonsense. All the early aggravations were caused by the fact that from shortly before 1066, English rulers also claimed large parts of France through inheritance. Equally, some French rulers believed that England belonged to them for the same reasons. Since the Middle Ages, we have been competitors not enemies.

        • Kennybhoy

          “Since the Middle Ages, we have been competitors not enemies.”

          Very sound.

        • Jean Granville

          I agree, and most contentious subjects have gone away after Waterloo.
          Even colonial disputes were of little importance in French view. In Fachoda, while some people were shouting for war in Paris and London, French and British colonial officers were drinking champagne together.
          Actually, I don’t see any better alliance than the Franco-British one in French history.

        • RoyBeers

          Louis XIV was much more than a competitor; he was a megalomaniac and also a bigot who wanted to rule the whole of Europe and the Americas as a Catholic demi-god. The War of the Spanish Succession was wildly more important than the events of 1815 – and Marlborough a spectacularly better general (and politician) than Wellington.

      • kingkevin3

        What crap. We even share aircraft carriers nowadays. The likelihood of France and Britain going to war against each other is non-existent.

        • Terry Field

          They are at the back of the carrier, we are at the back, and the barricades are in the middle.
          That’s why we don’t need many planes.

      • RoyBeers

        By the same token Scotland and France are eternal allies – with varying degrees of amity.

    • Mary Ann

      The end of all wars would be a good thing, at least we haven’t had any in Western Europe since the formation of the EU

      • davidofkent

        We haven’t had any wars in Europe since the formation of NATO which has kept Europe safe from external threats as well.

      • A Free Man

        Do people actually believe that the EU is a force for peace? WHEN the EU collapses (as it inevitably will because ultimately all countries act in their own national interests, not those of a transnational organisation) I hope it goes the way of Czechoslovakia but I fear it will go the way of Yugoslavia

        • Kennybhoy

          Monsters from the Id…

        • In the US it took almost a hundred years for a confederation of different economic states to break down into civil war. By those standards, we’ve got a while to go yet.

      • Kennybhoy

        Nope. Since the formation of NATO/US presence/Cold War mair like. And I note how narrowly you define Europe here allowing the exclusion then there was that wee stushie down in the Balkans back in the 90s…

        • Freddythreepwood

          There is no need to delineate NATO/US. The US is part of NATO.

          • Kennybhoy

            NATO was founded in 1949. The US presence in Europe dates from 1945.

          • Freddythreepwood

            Hair splitting. The British presence in Europe also dates from 1945.

          • Kennybhoy

            “Hair splitting. ”

            Tu quoque.

            “The British presence in Europe also dates from 1945.”

            Impertinent.

          • Freddythreepwood

            The British presence in post war Europe is a fact – there is nothing ‘impertinent’ about it. Nor about the US presence for that matter.

          • HJ777

            But it doesn’t just date from 1945.

          • Freddythreepwood

            Eh!

          • Mary Ann

            Quoque, give us a clue, even my big French dictionary doesn’t have it?

        • Mary Ann

          That little state down in the Balkans wasn’t a member of the EU when they were having their war.

      • HJ777

        Correlation does not imply causation.

        Nor since have we since the advent of NATO or of nuclear weapons.

      • Freddythreepwood

        NATO Mary. It is NATO you should be thanking. The formation of the EU as nothing to do with it.

        • Mary Ann

          Well you can thank NATO I shall thank the EU

          • Freddythreepwood

            Please yourself. But you might like to consider that NATOs role in keeping the peace in Europe is well documented and proven. If you can give me a single example of the EU deserving credit for similar, I will concede the argument.

          • Mary Ann

            There has never been any need for NATO to do anything as no member state has ever showed signs of wanting to go to war with another. Hard to prove a negative.

          • HJ777

            Perhaps it’s because they are members of the same military alliance?

            Are you suggesting that the EU kept the peace in the fact of the (obvious) threat from the Soviet bloc? I’d say that was down to NATO.

            Note that democracies have never gone to war against each other.

          • Mary Ann

            The same military alliance has a lot to do with the EU, one of the reasons France and Germany got together in the first place was to prevent another war.

          • HJ777

            “The same military alliance has a lot to do with the EU…”

            Does it? the backbone of NATO has always been the USA, followed by Britain. Many NATO countries are not in the EU (USA, Turkey, Canada, etc.) and some were members of NATO long before they joined the EU (e.g. the UK).

            France & Germany certainly were motivated by the desire to avoid another war between them. But that wouldn’t have stopped the USSR…

          • Mary Ann

            I never talked about war with Russia, I said there had not been wars in Western Europe since the formation of the EU. And the Eastern European states have been peaceful since they joined the EU as well.

          • Greenslime

            When you talk out of your tailpipe, is it any wonder that what comes out is kaak?

          • HJ777

            So a war with the USSR wouldn’t have affected Western Europe? Is that your contention?

            The Eastern European states have mostly joined NATO.

          • MacGuffin

            Mary Ann, you have shown yourself to be an idiot with these comments. A period of online silence on your part would be wise.

          • mdj

            Yugoslavia, Ukraine?
            What would we say if Russia had a minister with special responsibility for extension of its borders, like the EU?

          • Frank

            Dear Heaven, please do not comment without learning some history.

          • RoyBeers

            “with each other”.

          • RoyBeers

            Note that democracies have gone to war against each others with sickening regularity.

            In the 19th century alone, take your pick between the Mexican-American War, American Civil War, Spanish-American War, both Anglo-Boer Wars, Second Philippine War

          • HJ777

            Misinformed even by your standards.

            For a start, the American Civil War was within a democracy. The hint is in the description ‘Civil War’.

            And if you think that the Boer Republics were democracies…

            Need I go on?

          • RoyBeers

            Nah – between two democracies: if the Confederacy was an illegal state (and there’s a considerable argument there), it was nevertheless still a democracy.
            Yes, the Boer Republics were indeed technically democracies.
            No, you needn’t go on – because you’re original statement was extremely silly and you are wrong.
            As usual.

          • HJ777

            Weak arguments even by your poor standards.

            My statement was correct and you have produced no evidence to the contrary, as is plain to see.

            Describing the Boer republics as democracies is about as accurate as describing the Soviet Union as a democracy because you had a vote if you joined the Communist Party.

          • RoyBeers

            No your statement to the effect that democracies do not fight each other is demonstrably wrong, and in fact silly. If you want a really zany example, the Iroquois Confederacy fought other democratic Indian nations and also the USA – and few institutions have been as democratic as the Five Nations.
            Did I mention the Polish-Lithuanian War of 1920 …. or the Balkan Wars ….?

          • HJ777

            So you continue to clutch at straws with your dodgy ‘examples’.

            I am enjoying you making even more of a fool of yourself than you already have.

          • RoyBeers

            You got it wrong big time, bud …. egg on face time.

          • HJ777

            I am not your buddy (I don’t make buddies of idiots) and I agree that egg is all over your face.

            Juvenile phrases like “big time” don’t do you any favours, by the way.

          • RoyBeers

            I think on that note I’ll slip quietly away and let you get on with your homework ….

          • HJ777

            Please do slip quietly away.

            Your nonsense really won’t be missed.

          • Terry Field

            Can you honestly say you have never dreamed of a frontal attack on Belgium???????

      • Chamber Pot

        And this is down to NATO and nothing to do with the EU. This lie that anything other than NATO and MAD backed up by U.S. nuclear weapons needs to be nailed.

      • Greenslime

        It is NATO, not the EU, which has underwritten the peace in Europe since 1945.

      • John Carins

        Where were the “Europeans” in the recent Balkan conflicts?

    • Thersites

      France under the Vichy regime (1940 – 1944) was at war with the UK. British ships were torpedoed and sunk, aircraft shot down and thousands of soldiers killed in Syria and North Africa.

      • Rush_is_Right

        And vice versa. In fact we started hostilities by destroying their Navy at Mers-el-Kébir (and a good thing too). But the Vichy government was set up by the occupying force. It’s a little unfair to blame the French for what it did.

        • Terry Field

          “It’s a little unfair to blame the French for what it did.”

          I agree
          It was the fault of that monster Warsi!!!!!!!

    • Terry Field

      Don’t bet on it old cocker!!!!

  • scott_east_anglia

    Well, it’s no fun beating a good loser!

  • WTF

    This article finally nailed it, we have the French to blame for the victim culture that infects muslims, militant gays, liberal fascists and feminists as it appears they were the first to blame everyone else for their ills rather than looking at where they went wrong themselves !

    • MacGuffin

      I see what you did there. Good try.

  • John Carins

    We Brits may have been on the winning side against Napoleon, the Kaiser and Adolf but we have now lost all independence and dignity by being members of the EU. All will have been for naught if we don’t take back our sovereignty. The final defeat will be ours and Germany/France will be our dictatorial masters.

    • Mary Ann

      You don’t have much faith in Britain, don’t you think that we could take over the running of the EU, after all, we are all in the same boat.

      • John Carins

        We are not in the same boat. Why would we want to take over the running of the EU – that sounds very imperialistic. My faith in Britain is as an independent country trading with the rest of the world unimpeded by membership of a moribund organisation.

        • ashleyhk

          I am proud to be a supporter of ,and beneficiary of, European civilization. I am more proud to be a Brit.

      • MildredCLewis

        56$/hour@spectator

        >/ </b

      • pp22pp

        We being swallowed by an African tide. The future is here and it is revolting.

        • Terry Field

          If it is revolting, then we should put it down – before they ban Roundup!!!!!

      • Tom M

        You ignore the fact that the raison d’être for the EU is a French-German monpoly.

        • Terry Field

          Duopoly!!!!
          Plonker!

      • Terry Field

        Non. ill aime le merde. C’est leur metier!!!!!

    • sylvie rouze

      I have faith that…my… sister woz like realie receiving money parttime on their computer. . there neighbour haz done this less than

      eight months and resantly cleared the loans on there apartment and got a gorgeous Chevrolet Corvette

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    • Ooh!MePurse!

      In for me, in for me…..!

  • Mary Ann

    The French people won because their sons were no longer being dragged of to fight and die for the greater glory of Napoleon.

  • yankeedave

    Make no mistake – Napoleon was beaten as soundly as any commander has ever been beaten. But to look for reasons is not to “explain away” his defeat. Wellington was smart in selecting his ground, but it’s a simple fact that it was the timely intervention of the Prussians that saved him. And after the battle, Wellington did a very good job of building up his own legend. And let’s please stop hearing about how Waterloo led to a “century of peace.” Leaving aside the Crimean, Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars, as well as the forced restoration of monarchy throughout Europe, what it led to, ultimately, was the world wars of the 20th century.

    • cromwell

      The French are in denial, Wellington was a superior general to Napoleon and never lost a battle against the French.

      • yankeedave

        The notion that Wellington never lost a battle against the French is a myth that he himself perpetuated, if not originated. Search for his battle record, it’s easy enough to find. But then again, why bother, when you can resort to the standard British legend of Wellington’s invincibility?

        • Landphil

          Of course the USA won the Vietnam war.

          • RoyBeers

            They certainly won the Battle of New Orleans!

        • HJ777

          Wellington never lost a battle anywhere. Sieges were his weakness.

      • RoyBeers

        Cabbage. Wellington was an above-average general, but wrote of Fuente d’Onoro: “If Boney had been there we would have been damnably beat” – and lost more men in aborted Spanish sieges than many armies lost in battles. Comparing the two is ridiculous – Pele versus whoever is centre forward for Wolverhampton.

    • HJ777

      Your ‘simple fact’ is not so simple that it is not disputed.

    • IainRMuir

      ‘saved him?’ Didn’t read the article, did you?

      “Wellington would not have given battle but for the assurance of Blucher’s support.”

      Wellington expected Blucher to arrive much earlier but nevertheless he held fast. Blucher had benefited from Napoleon’s mistake in letting the Prussians get away after defeating them at Ligny two days earlier.

      • RoyBeers

        Have read many books over the past half century, and they lead inexorably to the conclusion that Welllington was a bluffer, a rabbit caught in the headlights, and that the Germans saved him and won the battle in spite of his incompetence and outright perfidy.

    • RoyBeers

      Exactly right. The removal of French hegemony in Europe paved the way for united Germany and a grand showdown between Britain and Germany – then Hitler.

  • cromwell

    “Come the three corners of the world in arms,
    And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue,
    If England to itself do rest but true.”

    The trouble is our traitor politicians have sold us out.

    • Kennybhoy

      “The trouble is our traitor politicians have sold us out.”

      Nothing new about that. Oh and Napoleon was a mere authoritarian compared to that totalitarian monster Cromwell. 🙂

      • RoyBeers

        Napoleon was a progressive in a world of retards – a giant brought down by pygmies.

  • Hamburger

    We shall be drinking champagne here.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      18 June 2015, next Thursday.
      200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

      • daviejohn

        I’ll drink to that,Hussar,Hussar,Hussar.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Keep in mind German General Count Gebhard von Blücher, who commanded the Prussian army at the Battle of Waterloo, spent the night trapped under his horse two days before Waterloo. Fortunately, he survived, rallied the Prussians, and led them to final victory over the French. Good going for a 72-year-old.

    • RoyBeers

      The battle was all his. Wellington’s performance – and lies – were and are a disgrace. Read Peter Hofschroer’s “Wellington’s Smallest Victory” for a true account of this great German victory.

    • Terry Field

      Why was he under his horse???
      Like an arab with a sheep?????

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Use your head for thinking, Terry. His horse had been killed trapping him underneath.

        • Terry Field

          You do not know that.They may have been ‘bonding’, like some arabs do with sheep.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    As guest of honour at a grand ball in Paris, when Wellington arrived, the Marshals of France turned their backs on him. A blushing Bourbon king apologised for their rudeness, but the Duke just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Tis of no matter your Highness, I have seen their backs before!”

    • Kennybhoy

      Ye gods but this is an unfamiliar side to you Maister J..? 😉

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        How about this, then?
        Olivia Rudgard’s piece in the Telegraph is littered with obvious errors: As example: “French troops also attacked the British at La Haye Sainte, and Wellington ordered troops to lie down behind the ridge, meaning they were shielded from the worst of the bombardment. They then drove the attacking French off from an advantageous position at the top of the ridge.”
        Looks as if a paragraph was deleted. Journalist? I’ve known smarter washerwomen.
        Sadly I am no longer to comment directly on the Catholic Daily Telegraph.
        Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

        • Kennybhoy

          Ha! 🙂

          How does it feel to have the most popular comment Maister J? 🙂

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Bit of a knee-buckler. These pages are hardly a popularity contest.

    • daviejohn

      Now THAT is a reponse to be proud of.

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  • MikeF

    The French are capable of a bit of self-mockery on this topic. When the Eurostar terminal in London changed a few years back from Waterloo to St Pancras there was big poster at the Paris terminal the Gare du Nord to remind people of the fact. It showed Napoleon and his Marshals and bore the slogan: ‘Oubliez Waterloo’.

  • Maverick Ways

    And how was it won…?

    https://etonfields.wordpress.com

  • Perseus Slade

    M. Chauvin was, of course, French.

  • daviejohn

    Great comments page on this subject today. Roll on the 18th we can all drink to it.

    • RoyBeers

      Vive L’Empereur!

      • daviejohn

        Bon Chance,monsieur

  • trace9

    So it was a few haemorrhiods wot did it.. ‘Never has so much been owed by so many to siuch a Few’… & if every soldier should have ‘a field-marshal’s baton in his knapsack’, here are some articles their General ought to avoid having up his bum..

  • Suleiman

    Here is a part of British mythology promoted by the British establishment : No British judges are corrupt ; British judges never cheat ; British soldiers never rape or mutilate civilian victims ; British policemen are not corrupt and in fact they are the most honest policemen in the world ; British civil servants are the most honest in the world ; the National Health Service is the best health service in the world ; British officials never bribe anyone ; etc etc.

    • pp22pp

      If you find us so revolting, why do you stay?

      • Suleiman

        I have noticed that you did not say that I was wrong : you only ask why I am still here. Well, did I say that other countries are especially better ? Differences are only marginal. But all countries give to themselves undeserved praise, not only the French.

        To make sure that my point is clear : Britain does not have a patent about corrupt, cheating judges.

        • Peter Stroud

          You are wrong, if you compare the behaviour of our troops, judiciary and other establishment people, they might not be perfect, but they are generally more well behaved than those from most other nations. Certainly better than those in Middle Eastern countries.

          • Mary Ann

            Now most of the time, but in the past, dreamer

          • Suleiman

            “Now most of the time” – that’s wrong. Even now, may be by very few exceptions.

          • Suleiman

            “They may not be perfect” is …

            You seem to take your information from the establishment, rather than from the victims. The British establishment is still very good in cover-ups, whitewash, and above all : through their control of the media and of information release, we hardly even hear about these cases, that is : from the start you don’t hear at all about them. The bodies set up by Parliament or by Government to ‘supervise’ are a joke, a ‘deliberate joke’.

            It is true that I, not having information sources, do not know about rapes by British soldiers except for the mass rapes in Kenya. Anyhow, talking about Middle Eastern equivalents : I do not think that Jewish or Israeli military forces have been involved in any rape over the last 100 years (I wish I could say the same about Muslim armies).

            As for judges : Come off it ! There is hardly a week passing by without some massive cheating by a few British judges. I do not accept that they are better than Middle Eastern countries : it is not “well behaved” which is the key word, but “honesty”, and in this they are no better.

            What you write simply shows that you fell victim to this British propaganda, just as the French are willing victims of their propaganda, and in all countries it is the same story.

        • pp22pp

          Nowhere is free of corruption, but comparing Britain to Pakistan is silly. And no, diversity was imposed upon me against my will and I hate it.

          • Suleiman

            It may turn out, after a serious investigation, that British judges – on average – are slightly less corrupt than Pakistani ones. But you can only say that a comparison is “silly” when you do not know the true facts about judges in Britain. For example, the level of corruption in our Employment Tribunals is simply staggering.

      • Suleiman

        And I did not say that I find the honest British citizen revolting : only the establishment.

    • Mc

      Good old whataboutism. Full marks for a logical fallacy.

  • Ladolcevipera

    Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo is indeed still a very sensitive matter in France. The French did not want us (Belgians) to mint a 2 euro coin. To spare their feelings we obliged and issued a 2,5 euro coin.

    • Mary Ann

      Is it legal tender outside Belgium?

      • Ladolcevipera

        No, it is a commemorative coin in a non-standard value. I think it’s already a collector’s item.

        • Mary Ann

          Thanks

        • Terry Field

          You lot always suck up to the Frogs.

          • Ladolcevipera

            Having a bad day or are you always rude?

          • Terry Field

            Always rude. And honest.

          • Ladolcevipera

            And not very well informed. The French government objected to the new regular 2 euro coin and we had to destroy the coins that had already been minted. So we defied them by minting a coin in a irregular denomination – in this case 2,5 euro. And there was nothing they could do against it. Voilà, serves them right.

          • Terry Field

            So it was a victory when we destroyed a coin the frogs ‘objected to’!!!! You lilly-livered, weak-as-water pathetic people. No balls. Plastics in the water supply turning you into women. Like that channel 4 bloke growing breasts. breasts are the new pecs in britoland.

          • Ladolcevipera

            You are a typical English gentleman?

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Interesting. So what was it about the two-Euro coin that disenchanted those French chappies?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Actually Steve, you might want to do a piece on Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton. The Duke of Wellington called him, “A rough foul-mouthed devil as ever lived”.
    Convicted for torturing a confession out of a teenage girl while governor of Trinidad, albeit acquitted on a technicality on appeal. Monster would be an accurate depiction. A musket ball ended his career on 18 June 1815. What goes around …

    • Campbell v Hall (1774), 1 Cowp. 204, 98 E.R. 1045 (King’s Bench), was no mere technicality (unless you were caught reading Wikipedia alone, again). Study some English law before you sound off again, Mr “Japan Alps Brit”!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Said technicality being that Spanish law applied. Thus keeping a teenage girl suspended by one arm with her only support being a sharp spike on the floor was absolutely fine.

        • Historical revisionism … and what were the punishments available in Japan back in the late 18th. C., pray, Mr. “Japan Alps Brit”?!

  • Muawiyah

    For all the dying pret’near ALL the Old Guard ended up near Gallipolis, Ohio and Cooperstown NY ~ you can ask any of the Bonaparte family about that ~ most of them live there ~

    America won that war ~ first Louisiana, then Texas, then New Mexico ~ and then Alaska! That was an incredible half century.

  • Michael Hannon

    Some years ago I was at a village fete near my home in south west France. The event was run in conjunction with a meeting of ‘Les Amis de Bonaparte’ and there were men in Napoleonic era uniforms walking around everywhere. In a little chateau was a large model of the battlefield at Waterloo, with hundreds of ‘toy’ soldiers laid out. After studying it with growing doubts I asked the man in charge why the British and Prussian armies didn’t seem to be there. He said ‘c’est pas important’. I said to my partner ‘I think the French believe they won the Battle of Waterloo’. Since then I have seen several exhibitions about Napoleon which lead me to the same conclusion. And if you think that’s bizarre, you should see how they have re-written the history of World War Two…

    • RoyBeers

      … which was won by the Russians.

  • sidor

    The French are funny: they never admit a battle lost. Most entertaining is their interpretation of Berezina: this too was a French victory since the Russians fail to capture Napoleon as they planned to. Never mind that he escaped leaving the rest of his army to die.

  • tolpuddle1

    Why do the French admire Napoleon ? – a man who used France and the French merely as a vehicle for his egomaniac ends, who led vast numbers of French to a painful end in the heat of Spain or the snows of Russia, who exhausted France so much that it is has always since been a shadow of its previous self.

    A mystery.

    • sidor

      No mystery. He is a founding father of the French bureaucracy. He created the self-reproducing totalitarian system of government whereby the country is controlled by a perfectly organised elite bred in Ecoles. The project was remarkably successful: that elite survived all the following political perturbations, and even the WW2 occupation didn’t affect its grip and stability. Now that bureaucracy is ruling EU, trying to realise the Napoleonic project of a European Empire.

      • RoyBeers

        Yes – the ultimate victory is Napoleon’s. All the fervent efforts of the European oligarchs ended in abject failure.

  • Lawrence James

    One of the most intriguing paradoxes of modern history is French bombast about La Gloire which is utterly at variance with the country’s success in war.Waterloo was followed by the surrender at Sedan in 1870, another, even more catastrophic reverse in 1940 and further defeats in Indo-China and Algeria. Incidentally, whilst rightly celebrating Waterloo, we should not forget the magnificent effort of Russia which sent ‘Boney’ packing and brought down his gimcrack European empire. If Napoleon had miscarried at Waterloo, an Austro-Russian army was already entering France and would surely done for him. Frosty Siberia rather than balmy St Helena might have provided his retirement home.

    • sidor

      One important detail. Napoleon’s army at Waterloo was a pale shadow of the great professional army that he had under his command in early 1812. That army perished in Russia, and at Leipzig. The loss was irreparable: the fresh recruits couldn’t match the well-trained professional soldiers that he lost.

    • RoyBeers

      Sorry to spoil your Land of Hope and Glory fantasy – but actually the French defeated an Austrian army AFTER Waterloo! Also you omitted to mention France’s role in the Crimean War (in which the charge of the Light Brigade would have been still more bloody but for the timely assistance of the Chasseurs d’Afrique), and the victory over Austria – again – in the Italian war of 1859. Wellington was comprehensively outmaneouvred and thrashed in 1815. He was rescued by the Prussians – and it is as a German victory that Waterloo must be remembered. The actual war was really over in 1813 after Leipzig, following which everything was a postscript – and the British contribution there, apart from the notorious English Gold, was precisely one rocket battery.

      • Lawrence James

        That leaves us with a string of reverses since 1859. As to Waterloo, your remarks do not appear to be supported by the recent histories of the fighting and the accounts of participants: gold is an invaluable weapon and not to be despised.

  • John P Hughes

    As regards Anglo-French relations today, remember the current definitions of Heaven and hell.
    * Heaven is English rock bands and French singers (chanteuses)
    * Hell is French rock bands and English pop singers.

    Not difficult when you compare La Grande Sophie, Barbara Carlotti, Christine & The Queens, Elodie Frégé, Camille, Coralie Clément, Mina Tindle (and on and on) with Kylie Minogue, Florence Welch, Ellie Goulding and Adele. And that is not to include great figures of the past – Francoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, Barbara, Juliette Gréco. (And Mlles. Vartan and Gréco are still performing sometimes. Francoise Hardy only retired recently, because of ill-health.)

  • mark

    no Prussian no party…. thank the Prussians.

  • valsore

    America never really joined World War II. What you see in history channel is just a fine work by Hollywood.

    The British did not really lost the war with the Americans, they simply retreated back to Britain.

    The American Indians really won their war against the US cavalry. Look how they are granted lands and rights while American ranchers are not.

    There was really no Bin Laden. It was just the work and publicity by CIA.

    Etc, etc.

  • bobbert

    No, the french know they lost, they just dont think it was an exclusive english victory. Most importantly, this was relatively minor. Napoleon was never going to win that war anyway. he could win an austerlitz in belgium and still be doomed. He won battles before waterloo, but they didnt matter. Napoleon was truly defeated at the battle of leipzig, but the english were no where to be found, so the english dont care about it.

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