troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Napoleonic Wars
Napoleon studying a map. The most dangerous thing in the world.

Do you see that star?
No, emperor.
But I see it.
-Napoleon and Talleyrand, before his invasion of Russia.

The wars between Napoleon Bonaparte and various states in Europe in the early nineteenth century. Can be summed up as "France and whoever they'd conquered at the time vs. everybody else in Europe." The early years overlap somewhat with the latest wars of the French Revolution. Known before 1914 as "The Great War" before that global conflict usurped the title.

    open/close all folders 

     Primary Conflicts 
  • The War of the Second Coalitionnote  (1798-1801) Austria, Russia, Turkey, Portugal, Britain and Naples vs. France and Spain
    • Trying to get him out of the country, the Republic sends Napoleon to invade Egypt (triggering changes that would ripple through the Middle East and the world for two centuries), tries for Syria, but ultimately fails.
  • The War of the Third Coalition (1805): Austria, Great Britain, Russia, Sweden vs. France and Spain
    • Austria and Russia lose the Battle of Austerlitz. Austria gives France some land and the name for a train station.
    • As a consequence of this war, the Holy Roman Empire is dissolved and Napoleon builds the Confederation of the Rhine from his German allies.
    • At Trafalgar, Lord Horatio Nelson gets a famous victory, putting Napoleon off invading Britain, but is killed by a sniper in the process.
  • The War of the Fourth Coalition (1806-1807): Prussia, Saxony, Russia, and Sweden vs. France, Spain and the Confederation of the Rhine
    • Napoleon conquers Prussia and after a hard-fought campaign forces Russia to terms. To get at Britain, he imposes an economic blockade, the "Continental System".
  • The Anglo-Russian War (1807-1812)
    • Russia declares war after the British attack on Denmark, but little happens except a trade embargo.
  • The Peninsular War (in Spain: The War of Independence) (1808-1814): The British help Portugal and Spain against the French, but as the latter are no longer great powers, this does not count as a coalition.
    • Napoleon bites off more than he can chew south of the Pyrenees. After a long and bloody slog, he loses. Meanwhile, with the motherland weakened, local bigwigs in Spanish America take the opportunity to demand (or simply take) more autonomy from their governments. The Crown refuses and/or tries to take it back, and people start being assasinated... and there are riots... then uprisings... then rebellions... and very soon the entire Spanish Americas are a complete, virtually-ungoverned, mess. Eventually they'll secede as a series of new countries.
  • The War of the Fifth Coalition (1809): Great Britain and Austria vs. France
    • Napoleon suffers his first defeat in the field at Aspern-Essling, but resoundingly wins at Wagram.
  • The War of the Sixth Coalition (1812-1814): Great Britain, Prussia, Sweden, Austria, German States and Russia vs. France and its remaining allies. There is a lot to be said for this to be subdivided into two parts:
    • The Russian Campaign (at the outset called "The Second Polish War" by Napoleon (the 1806/07 campaign thereby becoming the First one); known in Russia as "The Patriotic War", World War II named "The Great Patriotic War" after it there) (1812): France, Austria, Prussia, the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, the Confederation of the Rhine and various other satellites vs. Russia and Great Britain.
      • Napoleon tries to invade Russia. He loses to the hot and cold weather; Moscow is burned by the retreating Russians.
    • The German and French Campaigns (1813-1814): Great Britain, Russia, Prussia and Sweden, later joined by Austria and other German states vs. France and its remaining allies.
      • Napoleon's armies are destroyed and France is ultimately occupied. Napoleon is sent to Elba.
  • The War of the Seventh Coalition (The Hundred Days): Great Britain, Prussia, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Austria and German States vs. France
    • Bonaparte escapes, takes power and invades Belgium, where he's defeated once and for all at Waterloo by Wellington and Blücher. He's exiled to St. Helena, where he dies.
  • The Wars of 1813-1815 are collectively known as the Wars of Liberation in Germany and Austria.

     Spin-Offs and Side-Shows 

There were a number of wars going on concurrently that often interacted with the Napoleonic Wars proper:
  • The Quasi-War or Franco-American War (1798-1800): An undeclared naval war resulting from French anger because of America's sensible (or ungrateful?) neutrality during the War of the First Coalition.
    • Put an end to the French privateering against US shipping that had been going on since 1797.
  • Irish rebellions (1796-1798; 1803): Attempts by French-aided Irish nationalists to overthrow British rule and establish an independent Kingdom/Republic of Ireland. The French sent an army and fleet in 1796 but were unable to land thanks to the weather. Two years later open rebellion broke out but the French arrived too late and in too small numbers properly aid the nationalist rebels, who were suppressed by the army. In 1803 the nationalists made a final attempt (this time without French aid) but they were reported, tried for conspiracy to commit treason, found guilty by the jury and sentenced to death.
    • Many of the Irish nationalist leaders were Protestant. The rebellion, the suppression of which was aided by Scottish volunteer units, also acted as midwife to the rise of Orange Lodges and other Loyalist organisations. The rebellions also hastened the passage of the Acts of Union in 1800 and brought Catholic Emancipation to the forefront of the discourse at Westminster.
  • The League of Armed Neutrality (1801): Russia, Prussia, Austria, Denmark, Portugal and Sweden attempt to preserve their interests against both sides.
    • Brought to an abrupt end by Nelson capturing the Danish fleet off Copenhagen and the deposition and murder of Czar Paul I. France's ally Spain invades Portugal in a campaign that is regarded as a bit of a farce, the "War of Oranges", and forces the Portuguese to yield.
  • The War in Haiti (1801-1803)
    • Bonaparte takes advantage of the brief peace in Europe to send an army to reimpose slavery. It is destroyed by the Haitians and tropical diseases, ensuring the independence of the second republic of the Western hemisphere. Since all of his territory in mainland North America is now indefensible, Napoleon decides to sell the whole lot to the United States.
  • Barbary Coast wars: The pirates of the Barbary Coast city-states attack US ships in the Mediterranean and demand ransoms and tribute for the captured passengers. The new US Navy attacks the Barbary city-states and brings an end to the practice of paying tribute to the pirate states.
  • Wars in India
    • To wit, the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1798-1799), the First and Second Kandian War (1803-1804, 1815), the Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-1805), the Vellore Mutiny (1806), and the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814-1816). Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, wins his first laurels in the first of these.
  • War between Russia and Persia (1804-1813)
    • Persia loses most of its possessions in the Caucasus.
  • Another Russo-Turkish War (1806-1812)
    • Fought mainly in what is now Romania. In the end the Russians make a slight gain, but are generous because they want to get the war over before the French invasion starts. Overlaps with internal conflicts and a Succession Crisis in Turkey.
  • The Anglo-Turkish War (1807-1809)
    • The British destroy the Turkish fleet, but their attacks on Constantinople and Egypt fail.
  • The Russo-Swedish War for Finland (1808-1810)
    • Finland becomes Russian, the king of Sweden is deposed in a coup. The Crowning Moment Of Awesome was a Russian army marching across the frozen Baltic Sea from Finland to northern Sweden.
  • The Swedish campaign in Norway 1808-09, resulting in defeat for the Swedish army, though better equipped than the Norwegian farm militia.
    • The British blockade of Norway, which basically left Norway on their own. Norway had to cope without Danish help when the Swedes invaded from the East. The years after the Swedish campaign is remembered in history as the "years of need" in Norway, with people starving to death all over the country. The experience bolstered the national sentiment come 1814.
  • The treaty of Kiel, ratified in January 1814, which dissolved the union between Denmark and Norway at gunpoint. Sweden was compensated for the loss of Finland by gaining Norway.
    • A new Swedish campaign in Norway followed suit in 1814. This time, the Swedish army had a new and more experienced french general on their side.
    • Not to mention that Norway used their spare time to draft their own constitution the same spring, which the Swedes grudgingly acknowledged the same autumn. This constitution was a constant take that from Norway to Sweden the next 90 years or so. For a more detailed narration on this, see the Norwegian Constituent Assembly.
  • The Spanish American Wars of Independence (1808-1829)
    • Largely a consequence of the Peninsular War.
  • The Anglo-Swedish War (1810-1812)
    • Following a French ultimatum, Sweden declares war on the United Kingdom, but on paper only.
  • The War of 1812 (sometimes called The Second War of American Independence or Mr. Madison's War) (1812-1815)
    • America declares war on Great Britain and attempts to invade British Canada. Spins into a conflict involving the British Empire, the United States, and a number of Native American groups allied to either side. Ends with failed invasions of each other's territory by both sides—during which the Americans burned down Torontonote  and the British torched Washington, DC—and a military stalemate. The Treaty of Ghent restores the status quo. Perhaps one of the stupidest conflicts in history, seeing as the British had actually ended the policies which provoked before it broke out, but due to the slow pace of communications in those days, America didn't find out until after it had invaded Canada. (And similarly due to slow communications, the great American victory at the Battle of New Orleans, which launched the career of Andrew Jackson, was fought shortly after peace had been declared.)


These wars contain tropes such as:

  • Abnormal Ammo: In 1809 Tyrolean insurgents for sniping used rifled air-guns (which in peacetime were used mainly for poaching). Napoleon ordered that anyone caught with such a gun should be immediately shot.
    • Also Henry Shrapnel's top-secret invention, the "spherical case" ammunition.
  • Aerith and Bob: Sometimes commented upon in the case of the Bonaparte siblings: Joseph, Lucien, Elisa, Louis, Pauline, Caroline, Jérôme... and Napoleon. There is of course a mundane explanation for this: they were all born with Italian names, and Napoleon's happened to be the only one with no French equivalent.
  • A Father to His Men: Many. Napoleon himself was one (to his Old Guard in particular), so was Nelson, as was Wellington (in his own way). Special props must go to the beloved General Rowland Hill, whose adoring troops called him "Daddy Hill". When one of his officers was injured, Hill sent him a lunch hamper during his convalescence. When a serjeant delivered him a dispatch, he gave the man a pound, a hot meal, and a bed for the night for his trouble.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Napoleon felt this way about Marshal Marmont, his former aide and longtime friend who turned against him in 1814, if his words in Saint-Helena are any indication : "I was betrayed by Marmont, whom I saw as my son, my child, my creation..."
  • Bad Ass: Marshal Michel Ney, one of Napoleon's most trusted marshals. While simple, bull-headed, and tended into Leeroy Jenkins territory on occasion (particularly Waterloo), nobody doubted his courage. He was often seen in the thick of the action, was supposedly the last Frenchman to leave Russia, and was given the sobriquet "Bravest of the Brave" by Napoleon himself, not least because Ney thought nothing about standing up to him. He even gave the order to fire to his own firing squad. With no blindfold.
  • Badass Boast:
    • General Malet, leader of an abortive coup in October 1812 responding to the tribunal's question who his accomplices were:
    All of France, and you yourself, if I had succeeded.
    • Also The Duke of Wellington's made a while after the Battle of Waterloo, and referring to Napoleon's beloved column formation:
    Napoleon came on in the same old way, we fought him in the same old way, and we beat him in the same old way.
    • Napoleon, in addition the many he made himself, made one on behalf of Sir Sidney Smith, who was vital to the Turkish defence of Acre:
    That man made me miss my destiny!
    • He also had this one when France has to face invasion of the sixth coalition in 1814:
    The cannonball that will kill me has not been molded yet!
    • The Viscount Pierre Cambronne, one of the commanders of Napoleon's Old Guard in their heroic Last Stand at the battle of Waterloo, is quoted as saying:
    The Guard dies, but does not surrender!
    • or:
    Merde!
    • Somewhat subverted in that he survived the carnage and surrendered anyway. "The Guard dies, but does not surrender" was first quoted in an article that appeared in a newspaper article written a few days after Waterloo in Paris by the royalist Michel de Rougemont, when it was still believed that Cambronne had died in the battle. "Merde" gained currency ca. 1830 and was enshrined by Victor Hugo in 1862 in Les Misérables. The debate about what Cambronne "really" said rages to this day, but there are good reasons to believe that Rougemont had made the whole thing up, not least the fact that Cambronne - who lived until 1842 - never confirmed either version, while a number of persons who knew him report that he denied saying either the phrase or the one-word response. The story certainly did not lose anything in retelling, some versions having the British unbelievably calling on Cambronne's square to surrender no less than four times so that Cambronne gets to say both versions.
    • Marshal Lefebvre, one of Napoleon's senior generals. One of his dinner guests supposedly expressed envy of his wealth. Lefebvre's response was to offer to take him outside and take twenty shots at him from thirty paces; if the guest survived it would all be his. Unsurprisingly, he declined.
    I had a thousand bullets fired at me from much closer range before I got this.
    • The same Marshal is also quoted as saying, to a noble who was priding himself on having many famous ancestors (although this reply is also attributed to General Junot and Marshal Augereau depending on the biographer) :
    You are only a descendant; I am an ancestor.
    Victory is not a name strong enough for such a scene.
  • Badass Bookworm: Marshal Davout looked like one, having grown bald at a young age and having to wear glasses, but he was arguably Napoleon's best lieutenant and not called the "Iron Marshal" for nothing. At Auerstedt his corps single-handedly threw back the main Prussian army.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars saw a major shift from the professional armies of the ancien régime to mass armies raised by conscription, which also introduced tactics using larger permanent formations like divisions, army corps and massed batteries. The reorganization of some of the major armies was often accomplished by generals famed less for their service in the field than for their organizational capabilities:
    • Lazare Carnot, "the organizer of victory", basically built the army that Napoleon and other generals could use.
    • Marshal Alexandre Berthier is often credited with reforming the general staff into an efficient machine that made sure Napoleon's orders would be perfectly executed. It didn't hurt that despite not being a tactical genius himself, he could understand Napoleon's plans perfectly and transmit them exactly like the Emperor wanted it.
    • The "Grand Old Duke of York" instituted many necessary reforms of the British army.
    • Archduke Charles, who doubled as a Warrior Prince, rebuilt the Austrian army so it was able to take on Napoleon at the height of his power in 1809 on its own.
    • Gerhard von Scharnhorst reorganized the Prussian army after its disastrous defeat in 1806/07 and laid the foundations for its expansion from a nominal strength of 42,000 to more than a quarter of a million within half a year in 1813.
  • Badass Grandpa: Generalissimo Suvorov was 70 years old when he led a Russian army across the Alps to smash the Revolutionary French army at the Trebbia and Novi in 1799. Field Marshal Blücher was 72 when he led the Prussian army to victory at La Belle Alliance - two days after they had to pull him from beneath a dead horse. French Marshal Moncey was sixty when he made his last stand at Clichy, near Paris, against the Russian army; he resisted during twenty-four hours despite being vastly outnumbered (at literally one against ten).
  • Badass Longcoat: Napoleon himself, in his iconic redingote grise (grey overcoat).
    • As a lot of the fighting occurred during bad weather, a lot of people appeared this way, for instance Marshal Ney and other French commanders wearing fur-lined coates during the retreat from Moscow, or Blücher in the rainy campaigns of 1813 and 1815 and the winter campaign in France in 1814. On campaign, Napoleon's Old Guard infantry and foot artillery wore distinctive blue greatcoats (other French footsoldiers wore brown or grey ones).
  • Badass Mustache: Blücher and French general Lasalle, both hussars. Also Napoleon's Old Guard, who he actually nicknamed his "Old Mustaches".
  • Band of Brothers: One of the earliest examples of the trope by name: the famous Nelsonic Band of Brothers, consisting of those captains who had fought with him at the Battle of the Nile.
    My brave officers; for my noble-minded friends and comrades. Such a gallant set of fellows! Such a band of brothers! My heart swells at the thought of them!
    • In a similar way, around Napoleon at the time there was a circle of young generals whom he had met and befriended in Italy or earlier; he promoted most of them to Marshals in 1804. Of course, the presence of this coterie did not endear Napoleon to the veterans of the Rhine, who felt that he unjustly favoured his friends.
  • Batman Gambit: A strategy frequently used by Napoleon, most famously against the Russian and Austrian armies at Austerlitz.
    • Reversed and used against Napoleon when his former general Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte swapped sides and was made prince elect of Sweden. Because he knew the quirks of Napoleon pretty well, Bernadotte and Tsar Alexander of Russia actually lured the Grande Armee further and further into Russia, eventually making the Russian winter a huge weapon of mass destruction. And then came the battle of Leipzig.
  • Battle in the Rain: Several.
  • Blessed with Suck: Napoleon's brothers, Joseph and Louis, didn't seem too happy about being made kings of Naples (and later Spain) and Holland.
    • That said, Louis made the best of it and got himself actually well-liked by the people of Holland. Due to his actions, he was known then (and now) as Louis the Good. Napoleon actually had him deposed because Louis started favoring Dutch interests above French ones.
  • Bling of War: The armies of the Napoleonic Wars had the fanciest, most colorful and elaborate uniforms in history with those of hussars (light cavalry), being the most ornate. However, this had some use due to the exorbitant amounts of smoke quickly covering the battlefield from black powder being used in muskets since smokeless powder had yet to be invented - the bright uniforms helped soldiers be able to continuing see their comrades and thus aided morale.
    • The Napoleonic Wars also saw the institution of the Legion of Honour and the Iron Cross and were the first major war to be commemorated by campaign medals issued to all participants.
  • Blood Knight: Sir Thomas Cochrane spent the early years of the war fighting French for the Royal Navy. After the war ended, bored, he spent his time fighting in the independence struggles of various Spanish and Portuguese possessions - he helped lead Chile to freedom (to this day, there is a ship of the Chilean Navy named the Almirante Cochrane), captured the most powerful Spanish warship in the Pacific, directly leading to Peru's freedom, he helped the Brazilians defeat the Portugese, became Marquess of Maranhao, then burned the Bazilian merchant fleet and raided their treasury when they didn't pay him his prize money, and he fought for the Greeks against the Turks. He then took command of the North American Squadron, and was almost given a command in the Crimean War, but Parliament was worried he would do something suicidally brave and lose his entire command. He also drafted the "Secret War Plan", which was so brutal that Parliament had it locked away, to be used if and only if the mainland UK was threatened. It apparently involved rockets and poison gas.
  • Brave Scot: See Blood Knight above.
    • The French Marshalate had a half-Scot, Jacques-Etienne Macdonald, the son of a Jacobite. He was not lacking bravery on the battlefield, but his courage went beyond that: he did not hesitate to stand up to Emperors and Kings telling them exactly what was on his mind, so Louis XVIII nicknamed him 'His Outspokenness'. Although he was truly French at heart, Napoleon once jokingly said that he never sent him to fight the English because he couldn't trust a Macdonald around bagpipes.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: By far the most effective unit in the Wars was the Golden Cavalry of St. George - the slang term given to the cash subsidies the British paid to most of Europe's crowned heads in order to either A: keep them fighting the French, or B: stop them fighting the British. When it came to foreign policy, Napoleon was hopelessly outplayed, largely because the British had what is known in foreign policy circles as "shit-tons of money" whilst he had very little because he was being blockadednote 
  • Brick Joke: When Sweden, short a king, offered the throne to French Marshal Bernadotte, Napoleon thought the whole thing was absurd and didn't take it seriously. This brick later returned to hit Napoleon in the head, as a rather miffed Bernadotte took the job offer anyway and eventually joined Sweden with the coalition against Napoleon. Swedish troops participated in several critical battles against the French, with Bernadotte personally leading them.
  • Brits with Battleships: Especially the battleships. The Royal Navy's finest hour - it won a string of crushing victories against numerically superior fleets and kept up a blockade of Europe for almost twenty years. In its spare time, it made serious inroads into ending the slave trade.
    Napoleon: "Everywhere wood can swim, I find this flag of England!"
  • Butt Monkey: Denmark. In 1801 it tried to remain neutral, but the British attacked them anyway and defeated the Danish fleet off Copenhagen. By 1807, they had one of the last major fleets in Europe, it was only a matter of time before someone invaded to take it off them. Napoleon made a decent head start, agreeing with the Czar at Tilsit that he could snatch the Danish fleet, and so the Crown Prince of Denmark deployed the Army to the South of the country...which meant it could do nothing when the British invaded from the North and bombarded the city for three nights. The Danes gave up their fleet, which was taken to Britain and inducted into the Royal Navy. Subsequently Denmark continued a small-scale war against the British, losing the North Sea island of Heligoland in the process. Then, when Sweden, which had just lost Finland to Russia, entered into an alliance with Russian and Britain in 1812, asked for and was promised Norway, which then belonged to Denmark, as its price. For this reason Denmark did not switch sides in the spring of 1813, returned to its alliance with France, and thus found itself on the losing side once again at the end of that year. In January 1814, Sweden made a strong statement for making Denmark even more of a Butt Monkey when they invaded Denmark and hauled through Jutland for a week, meeting small resistance, if any. After that, Denmark gave in and accepted the Treaty of Kiel, handing over Norway.
    • Norway. Blocked by the British Navy for years and nearly starved to death in the process, and later handed over to Sweden after the Treaty of Kiel (January 1814). Denmark was forced to give the country away after its main army could not stop the Allied Army of the North, which was commanded by the Swedish crown prince, from invading then-Danish Schleswig-Holstein in December 1813. The Norwegians subverted the trope by drafting their own constitution in 1814, which Sweden accepted with a grudge. During the constitutional assembly, Norwegians optimistically hoped Britain would turn on its ally Sweden, but this did not happen. The British House of Commons debated this issue for three days straight at the very end of April 1814. Dispatches reached Norway at the beginning of May, and the assembly hurried up to get their draft ready before the Swedes invaded. They made it in a fortnight, and that is why Norway has it`s national day at May 17.
  • The Captain: Many, many captains - Sir Edward Pellew, Sir Israel Pellew, Nelson when he held the rank, Thomas Hardy (not that one), Eliab Harvey, and possibly the daddy of them all, Sir Thomas Cochrane, whose life served as inspiration for both "Lucky" Jack Aubrey and Horatio Hornblower.
  • Casting Couch: Manuel Godoy became Spain's political and military top guy until 1808 because he was Queen Maria Luisa's lover. King Charles IV was oblivious and considered the "Prince of Peace" his trusted friend.
  • Category Traitor: Despite being a nobleman by birth, Louis-Nicolas Davout was a fervent partisan of the Revolutionary ideals and was seen as this by the nobles who returned from exile after Napoleon's defeat, hence why he spent his last years of life completely shunned by his former peers.
  • The Cavalry: Desaix' division at Marengo, the Prussians at Eylau and Waterloo.
    • Murat's cavalry charge at the Battle of Eylau is notably epic. Imagine a frontal assault on a crumbling line by eleven thousand horsemen.
      • Although many French accounts focus on this charge and for all practical intents treat it as if it decided the battle, it actually only happened at 11:30 a.m. and the battle continued throughout the afternoon and into the night. As far as the French army was concerned, the part of this trope was actually played by Davout's and later Ney's corps.
  • The Chessmaster: Metternich, Talleyrand, Canning.
  • Child Soldiers: The "Marie-Louises" of the 1814 campaign in France. British Midshipmen often served from age 12, joining active service ships at 14.
    • In the pre-1806 Prussian army officers also could start early. Carl von Clausewitz, the author of On War, first served actively as a 13-year-old ensign at the siege of Mainz in 1793.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Even allowing for the general frequency of about-faces and switches of alliance, some examples were considered beyond the pale at the time.
    • Saxony switched sides in the a few months into the war of 1806, after the double defeat of Jena and Auerstedt. The elector became a king by the grace of Napoleon and in the peace of Tilsit in 1807 he gained some territories at the expense of his erstwhile ally Prussia. The Prussians were naturally miffed at this, especially as the king of Saxony refused to join the anti-Napoleonic alliance in the spring of 1813, and subsequently Prussia tried not just to regain the territories it had lost to Saxony in 1807, but also to annex as much of Saxony as it could. In the meantime the Saxons fell out of favour with their French allies, because a Saxon brigade - against the king's orders - deserted the French Army in the middle of the battle of Leipzig (October 16-19, 1813). Even though the brigade was too small to make a real difference and even though it did not actively fight on the Allied side at Leipzig, Napoleon used them as scapegoats for his defeat and even coined the word "saxonner" for deserting allies under fire. At the Congress of Vienna, Prussia succeeded in gaining nearly half the territory of Saxony, but when Blücher ordered the Saxon contingent of his army to be divided up in accordance with the new borders, these troops mutinied, which led to the Saxons being sent back to Germany and not participating in the Waterloo campaign. Modern historians tend to look more friendly at the way the Saxon soldiers reacted to unusual circumstances and conflicts of loyalty.
    • For his enemies (and former friends) Napoleon was a king of this trope. For Corsican nationalists and their leader Paoli he was a traitor to the cause. In the coup of 18 Brumaire, he betrayed his erstwhile allies in the Directoire. After Austerlitz he entered into an alliance with Prussia, handing them over the electorate of Hanover as the price for declaring war on Britain; shortly after he secretly offered Hanover back to the British. When the Prussians found out, they hastily declared war on him, only to suffer total defeat. Also in 1806, Napoleon goaded Turkey to declare war on Russia to open a second front, but in 1807 he made peace with Russia, but a peace that did not include Turkey, which had to continue its war until 1812. And in 1808 he betrayed Spain and the Spanish royal family, some of his most faithful allies, in order to install his brother Joseph as its king.
    • For Napoleon's supporters, Talleyrand and Fouché suffered from this.
    • And for pretty much everyone, Marshal Marmont acquired this reputation after he betrayed Napoleon in 1814 ; sixteen years later, when he proved unable to contain the insurrection in Paris in July 1830, the Duke of Angouleme asked : "Will you betray us, as you betrayed him ?"
  • Citadel City: A few. Cadiz became one as it ended up the last free city in Spain, whilst the Spanish cities of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz proved formidable obstacles to the British Army (though not formidable enough, as the inhabitants of Badajoz found out to their cost).
  • Colour Coded Armies: Austrians dressed in white, British in red, French in dark blue, Hanoverians in red (conveniently, since they had same ruler as the British), Italians and Neapolitans in white, Portuguese in brown, Prussians in dark blue, Russians in dark green, Spanish in white, then dark blue. Note that these are only the colours for line infantry, other arms of service could have different colours and there were countless subversions for special units. This could lead to confusion, for instance in one battle in the Peninsula, a Swiss regiment in French service, which wore red uniforms, got uncomfortably close to the British redcoats before they were recognized, shot upon and driven back. On their retreat they were then fired upon by the French who mistook them for attacking British infantry.
  • The Consigliere: In most armies the position of a commander's chief of staff was very much his subordinate and his tasks could be described as ancillary - thus some historians have described the position of Marshal Berthier, Napoleon's chief of the general staff, as that of "a glorified clerk". In contrast in Prussia the position of the chief of staff was continually strengthened, especially after the disasters of 1806, because General Scharnhorst saw this as a way of structurally strengthening army command, so that a competent chief of staff could complement a not so great commanding general or could carry on when he was incapacitated on campaign. This new system would typefy Prussian army command for the next structure especially as it worked so well with Blücher and his two chiefs of staff Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.
  • The Conspiracy: The Napoleonic era was filled with intrigue, conspiracies and conspiracy theories, although it of course depends on your point of view which conspiracies you considered evil. Thus the United Irishmen, Royalist activists like Georges Cadoudal or the leaders of armed insurrections in Germany in 1809 would be seen as plucky patriots by one side and rebel scum by the other. Among the more well-known actual conspiracies of the era:
    • Both Gustavus III (assassinated in 1792) and Gustavus IV of Sweden (deposed in a coup when his war against Britain and Russia ended badly) fell victim to conspiracies.
    • Napoleon coming to power in the coup of 18 Brumaire (9 November, 1799), prepared by a conspiracy of high-placed officers and politicians.
    • In 1800, the royalist Plot of the Rue Saint-Nicaise (a.k.a. the Infernal Machine Plot) attempted to kill the then First Consul by exploding a cartload of powder barrels when his coach passed by on the way to the opera. Napoleon was unharmed, but many innocent bystanders were killed or badly injured.
    • In 1801 Paul I of Russia being deprived of his throne and life by a conspiracy of high-ranking officers, including some of his most trusted ones.
    • The Malet conspiracy of 1812, in which a group of officers tried to bring the Imperial régime in France to an end and to reinstate the French Republic by spreading the false rumour that Napoleon had been killed in action near Moscow.
  • Courtroom Antics: The Laws and Customs of War as interpreted then had an elaborate code for Prize Law. At one time an American privateer brought suit in a British court for the ransom he had been promised for a capture during the War of 1812 (which was a subtheater of this war). He was granted it.
    • Well we always knew lawyers were Pirates.
  • Covered with Scars: Certainly a lot of veterans soldiers, but the most famous example had to be Marshal Nicolas Oudinot, who was wounded 34 times over the course of his career. Another general who met him later in his long life (he still lived until the age of eighty) compared him to a colander. General Junot's record was not bad either, he bore many visible scars from his twenty-seven battle wounds, including one that ran from his left temple to the bottom of his cheek.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Talleyrand, feared for his wit. After the execution of the Duke of Enghien, he famously quipped that it was "worse than a crime, a mistake." (Although this particular line has also been ascribed to Fouché).
    • The Duke of Wellington too.
    • Marshal Masséna had his moments. At one point during the Spanish campaign, he asked Marshal Bessières to lend him soldiers from his cavalry reserve. Bessières only sent a few of them but came leading them personally, to which Masséna retorted : "I would have preferred more men and less Bessières."
    • A snarky remark from Field Marshal Blücher: During the campaign in France in 1814, the Allied high command, led by Field Marshal Prince Schwarzenberg, was still steeped in 18th-century military theories that put much more stock in occupying "strategically important" points than in doing actual damage to the enemy forces. They thus attached supreme importance to capturing the plateau of Langres, which happens to be part of the European Watershed, which they believed would compel Napoleon to retreat and lose the war. Blücher mocked these theories saying the only advantage of occupying the plateau of Langres was that if you urinated there, half of it would flow into the Atlantic and half into the Mediterranean.
    • In Austria the Prince de Ligne, well remembered for saying of the the Congress of Vienna: "The congress does not progress, it dances."
  • Defector from Decadence: The Marshals who deserted Napoleon in 1814 and pushed him to abdicate saw themselves as this. As Marmont put it : "As long as he said 'Everything for France', I served him with enthusiasm. When he started saying 'France and me', I served him with zeal. When he started saying 'Me and France', I served him with devotion. It is only when he said 'Me without France' that I detached myself from him."
  • Determinator: Lieutenant-Colonel William Inglis of the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot is the Trope Namer for term 'die hard'. At the battle of Albuera in Spain he was wounded by canister shot. Despite his injuries, Inglis refused to retire from the battle but remained with the regimental colours, encouraging his men with the words "Die hard 57th, die hard!" as they came under intense pressure from a French attack. The 'Die Hards' subsequently became the West Middlesex’s regimental nickname.
    • Sir John Moore at La Corunna. After Britain's first disastrous campaign in Spain, he led his battered army through an uncharacteristically harsh winter, managed to keep it mostly intact, and, as he fought a delaying action to allow his men to embark for England, was hit by a cannonball which turned him into a real-life Two-Face. He stayed awake and directed the battle, finally dying when the last of his men were embarked. Marshal Soult was so impressed, he raised a monument to him in the town of Corunna, which stands to this day.
    • During the Russian debacle, Marshal François-Joseph Lefebvre marched 300km with his troops, using his rifle as a walking stick and never ceasing to encourage those who remained behind and fiercely pushing back the Cossacks' attacks, by -25°C and with little food available. Did we mention that he was sixty at the time and suffering from gout and many badly-treated wounds ?
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: The French flagship at the Battle of the Nile, L'Orient, catastrophically exploded just as the battle drew to a close and the French fleet fell into British hands, curtailing Napoleon's Egyptian ambitions. Admiral Louis de Casabianca's son, Giocante, was aboard at the time, which gave rise to Felicia Dorothy Hearns' infamous poem "Casabianca". Spike Milligan "updated" it:
    The boy stood on the burning deck,
    When all around him had fled.
    • The British expected the fortress of Almeida in Portugal to hold out for at least a week. Unfortunately, due to an extremely unlucky turn of eventsnote  a French shell detonated its magazine, devastating the city, the garrison, and causing one of the largest explosions of the pre-nuclear age. The British, with no men, no walls, and no ammo, surrendered.
  • Draft Dodging: At the time, draftees in France could hire a substitute if they had enough money. In many other countries a lot of the middle and upper class was legally exempt anyway.
  • Duel to the Death: Duelling was still very much prevalent in the officer corps of the time, and quite often they would result in the deaths of participants. One famous series of duels between two French hussar officers was turned into a short story by Joseph Conrad and later the movie The Duellists. In 1809, after the failure of the Walcheren expedition, two members of the British cabinet fought a duel, Lord Castlereagh (war) wounding Lord Canning (foreign office); afterwards both had to resign from office.
    • Both in France and in Britain it is popular to see the entire Napoleonic Wars as a duel to the death between Napoleon and Britain.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Nelson expired from a sniper's bullet just after winning the Battle of Trafalgar with his last words being "Thank God I have done my duty".
    • Later, Marshal Michel Ney asked for, and received, permission to direct his own firing squad with his last words being "Soldiers of France! This is the last order I shall give you. Ready, Aim, Fire!". Minutes before that, as he was about to be blindfolded, he exclaimed : "Don't you know that I have been looking face to face at bullets and cannonballs for twenty-five years?"
    • Marshal Murat had a slightly funnier one: "Soldiers! Do your duty! Straight to the heart (Beat) but spare the face. Fire!"
    • Scottish General Sir John Moore was hit by a cannonball at Corunna, which apparently laid waste to near his entire left side. Moore however stayed awake and composed for the next several hours until the battle ended, all the while still giving orders before finally dying.
    • Firing squads were not always up to their jobs, thus in 1809, when eleven officers who had participated in Schill's rebellion, were shot, one of them, Albert von Wedell, was left standing. He responded by tearing open his shirt with the words: "Can't you hit better, here is the German heart!" before being shot dead in the second attempt. Similarly, Tyrolean leader Andreas Hofer is said to have said "My God, you're bad shots" when the firing squad executing him botched their first attempt.
  • Earth Is a Battlefield
  • Elite Mooks: In particular, the Old Guard for Napoleon. The British Guards regiments, as well as the Light Division, where these for the British.
  • The Emperor: Napoleon, obviously.
    • Franz I of Austria also proclaimed himself as one; he was formerly Franz II of the Holy Roman Empire, but Napoleon put an end to that.
    • And there of course was the Czar of All Russias, which is why the battle of Austerlitz is known as the Battle of the Three Emperors.
    • Though the official style of "King-Emperor" had not come into use, King George III of England had the largest Empire, though he was a constitutional monarch.
  • Epic Fail: Napoleon's Russian campaign. Let the numbers speak for themselves: his forces at the start of the campaign: 600 000. His forces at the end of the campaign, that is, half a year later: 6 000. What a Senseless Waste of Human Life.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Queen Louise of Prussia (1776-1810). When she died, she was even called the Queen of Hearts by August Wilhelm von Schlegel.
  • Evil Overlord: Napoleon, to his opponents.
  • Evil Plan: Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane's "Secret War Plan" was considered by the British government to be so evil it was shared with only a handful of men (even Wellington didn't know its contents) and not revealed until 1908. Cochrane himself was sworn to secrecy. The plan involved the creation of "sulphur vessels" - converted frigates loaded with sulphur and charcoal, and "temporary mortars", whereby a small vessel would be filled with gunpowder, shrapnel, animal carcasses, and musket balls, heeled onto its side with ballast, and then detonated, propelling the contents like a mortar. Based on tests conducted in the Med, Cochrane reckoned that just 3 such ships could devastate a square half-mile - in essence, the "Secret War Plan" involved gas attacks and carpet bombing, years ahead of WWII. Cochrane proposed it again during the Crimean War, and was turned down because the British government felt it would make any postwar reconciliation with Russia impossible.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Nelson, of course (despite not wearing an actual eyepatch- he probably had a detached retina, meaning the afflicted eye looked normal on the outside). And Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, supreme commander of the Russian army in 1812/13, who was held in awe by his army for having survived two bullets in the head (on separate occasions).
  • Fiery Redhead: Michel Ney was known as "le Rougeaud" ("the Red One") because of his hair. Napoleon described him as le brave des braves ("the bravest of the brave"), but would later use him as a scapegoat for his defeat at Waterloo. Another example would be Andoche Junot, sometimes called "la Tempête" and whose suicidal bravery eventually cost him his sanity.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: The Poles did a variety of it, and were among the most loyal of Napoleonic troops. Also to an extent peoples of the conquered territories.
    • Ironically Napoleon's Polish as often as not found themselves fighting not so much for Poland as against other people fighting for their homelands, most tragically in Haiti and in Spain.
  • Fighting Irish: A third of the British Army of Portugal was composed of Irishmen. Notable regiments include the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons (today part of the Royal Dragoon Guards), the 18th Foot (Royal Irish Regiment), and the 88th Foot (Connaught Rangers).
  • A similar, if not greater, proportion of the Royal Navy was ethnically-Irish as well - not to mention Arthur Wellesley, one of Britain's greatest generals of this period.
    • On the other hand plenty of Irish fought against the British, whether as rebels in Ireland itself (especially in 1798) or directly in French service - the Légion irlandaise was one of the few groups of foreign soldiers in the French military to whom Napoleon ever gave an eagle.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Joachim Murat was a noted dandy and possible homosexual, who was known for his extravagant clothes and whose last words were an entreaty for the firing squad to leave a good-looking corpse. He was also a fine cavalry commander and Bad Ass.
  • For Want of a Nail: A literal example. When cavalry overran enemy cannon, they typically hammered a spike into the firing hole of the cannon (called "spiking" the cannon). During the battle of Waterloo, Marshal Ney's cavalry overran the forward British artillery batteries, which could have had a disastrous effect on the battle as the British would lose almost all artillery support, possibly forcing a withdrawal. However, somebody forgot to bring the spikes. Marshal Ney was seen beating his sword against a British cannon in furious frustration, and before long the French cavalry were forced to retreat, leaving the cannon to be reoccupied by their British gunners.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Louis-Nicolas Davout had this reputation, due to his very cold and strict personality which his critics interpreted as full-blown heartlessness and cruelty. Of course, Napoleon also used his poor eyesight to mock him on occasion : when Davout sent him a report of his fighting against the main Prussian army at Auerstadt, Napoleon, who had just routed one corps at Jena thinking it was the main army told the messenger: "Today, your general who usually sees nothing has seen double !"
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Napoleon. He went from being the son of a Corsican patriot to overlord of most of Europe.
    • From the French perspective, the Duke of Wellington. After Napoleon has defeated all of Britain's top generals, forcing Craddock into a shrinking perimeter around Lisbon, killing Sir John Moore, Nelson is dead, this young officer fresh out of India returns to Europe after destroying the Maharatha Empire. "Ah," observed Napoleon, "but reputations made in India rarely stand up to a musket volley in Europe". He changed his tune before the end.
    • Marshal Massena was a cabin boy from Nice, the son of a shopkeeper, who enlisted in the French Army as a private, and who climbed all the way to the top.
    • Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Started as the son of a small lawyer from Pau, ended up king of Sweden and Norway. His dynasty still rules.
    • The Revolution in general, filling the gaps created by the emigration of many noble officers, made fearsome generals out of people who might never have joined the army without the nation-wide call to arms in 1792. Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr was one such general : a starving painter and sometimes comedian, he enlisted for the first time at 28 on the 1st of September 1792. Almost exactly two years later, he became a divisional general and went on to be regarded as one of the best defenders in the French army (he was often working with another rising star, Louis Desaix, prompting their soldiers to say : "With Desaix, we are assured of winning battles ; with Saint-Cyr, we are certain that we won't be defeated.")
  • General Failure: The Prussian Field Marshal Moellendorf, who had made his name in the Seven Years' War as a young man and who had performed well in Poland and Bavaria and as a peacetime organizer, turned out not to be the man to face Napoleon's new "big war" strategy. Prior to the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, he had turned down every proposal by von Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and the Military Society for reform with a sigh and "This is altogether over my head", with disastrous results. That said, he didn't lack for physical courage; at the age of eighty-two he advanced, alone, towards the French Army at Jena through a storm of their fire. Napoleon was so impressed, he gave him a Légion d'honneur.
  • Gauls with Grenades: Napoleon wrote the most glorious pages of France's military history.
  • Genre Savvy: Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, former general in the Grande Armée. When he became crown prince of Sweden, he actually started to use the tactics of Napoleon against him, securing an allied victory at Leipzig. Subverted when it came to Scandinavian internal struggles, however.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Much of Europe hates Napoleon. The Poles? They mostly vary between hero worship and "we love him, but...".
  • The Great Wall: The Lines of Torres Vedras. A series of linked forts, steepened hills, flooded valleys and British garrisons between Marshal Massena's army and the Portuguese capital, stretching all the way across the Portuguese region of Estremadura (more specifically, the northern side). It was a steal at £100,000, and a Russian squadron in Lisbon harbor kindly "donated" all their cannons to arm it. The British also, thoughtfully, took all the food in Portugal behind them and poisoned all the rivers and wells they could find. They were built in total secrecy, and the British government was as surprised as Marshal Massena when Wellington announced he had retreated behind them.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: The whole conflict. The structures Napoleon put in place in many of his territories were far more benign and enlightened than those which had already existed - for instance, he pioneered Jewish emancipation on the Continent, and tried to help out the Poles against their oppressors, the Russians, Austrians and Prussians. On the other hand, he was an unrepentant imperialist, reintroduced slavery (abolished by Robespierre and co.) in the French colonies, and his conscripts were surprisingly poorly disciplined off the battlefield (some say deliberately so), with Rape, Pillage, and Burn being their pastime of choice when they entered new territories and their method of choice for dealing with guerillas (especially in Spain and Germany).
  • Guile Hero: Sir Richard Keats, captain of HMS Superb, at the Battle of Algeciras Bay, pulled an Indy Ploy that would make The Joker proud. In the dead of night, he sailed his 74-gun ship past the massive Spanish 112-gun ships of the line San Hermengildo and Real Carlos, firing on both. The San Hermengildo, believing she was under attack, began a furious gun duel with the burning Real Carlos. Determined to take advantage of the situation, the Hermengildo's captain raked the Real Carlos, slaughtering her gun crews and spreading the fire out of control. Determined not to let "the enemy" get away, the San Hermengildo then tried to board the burning Real Carlos, which promptly exploded, destroying both ships.
  • The Gump: Don Miguel Ricardo de Álava y Esquivel KCB MVO holds the honour of being the only man to have fought at both Trafalgar and Waterloo (for opposite sides). He served as a naval aide-de-camp to Admiral Alava (his father) at Trafalgar, and was captured along with the Admiral when the British took the Santa Ana midway through. When the French invaded his homeland he became Spanish military attache to The Duke of Wellington, serving with him right up until Waterloo.
  • Gunman with two names: John Bellingham, who murdered prime minister Spencer Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons on May 11, 1812. His motive? He wanted to be financially recompensed for being wrongfully imprisoned in Russia, which the British government refused on the ground that it had broken off diplomatic relations with Russia at the time.
    • Another lone assassin was 17-year-old Friedrich Staps (Stapß), who tried to kill Napoleon in 1809. His intended victim at first thought that the attempt on his life was the result of a conspiracy in Berlin or Weimar, but the subsequent investigation came to the conclusion that Staps had acted on his own.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: Both sides made heavy use of this, but one particularly illustrative example can be seen in the little known case of the Second Battle of Copenhagen in 1807. After Nelson's crushing victory at Trafalgar, the remaining French and Spanish warships fled back to port. Napoleon's planned invasion of Great Britain was nipped in the bud. However, Denmark possessed one of the most powerful remaining navies in Europe. It was also small and conveniently easy to invade. Both sides, therefore, scrambled to gain the Danish fleet. Napoleon set the ball rolling by bullying the Tsar into revoking his objection to a French seizure of Denmark's navy as part of the Treaties of Tilsit. The British offered the Danish Regent (Crown Prince and future King Frederick VI) a whopping great sum of money in return for the ships...but also let him know that a large fleet was gathering at the Nore. Napoleon then moved his army to the Danish border in preparation for offering the Danes a fair deal on the issue. Unfortunately, this backfired on him - the Danish Crown Prince deployed the Danish army to Holstein in Southern Denmark so as to resist the French... and so Denmark was powerless to stop the British invasion fleet laying siege to Copenhagen and then burning much of it to the ground. Stunned, the Danes meekly gave up their Navy to Britain.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: General Sainte-Croix (who, according to Napoleon, had all the qualities he expected of a Marshal) was cut in two by a cannonball in Portugal in 1810.
  • Handicapped Badass: One-armed, one-eyed Lord Nelson, one-eyed Field Marshall Kutuzov and one-legged General Daumesnil come to mind; the latter replied to a summons of surrender: "I'll give you Vincennes if you give me back my leg." Also very remarkable was the Archduke Charles, who was the Austrian Army's best general and became the first to inflict a defeat in the field on Napoleon despite suffering from recurrent epileptic fits. Marshall Masséna of France lost one of his eyes to Napoleon in a hunting accident (sound familiar, Dick Cheney?).
  • Hazy Feel Turn: Napoleon's Marshals defecting to the returning Bourbons in 1814 (and for some of them, going back on Napoleon's side next year).
  • Heel-Face Turn: Almost every state in Europe seems to do this at least once, except Britain, which was consistently anti-France the whole time.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: A book published in 1815 in France gave "girouettes" (weathercocks) to the main figures of the Empire, depending on the number of times they changed sides. Talleyrand and Fouché got twelve each.
  • Heroic BSOD/Villainous Breakdown: Several. You can decide who was a hero and who was a villain yourself (See Grey and Grey Morality above)
    • Marshal Massena apparently had an epic one of these when he saw the Lines of Torres Vedras, Britain's secret defenses which blocked the routes into the Portugese capital, behind which all of the British Army and the Portugese population had retreated, taking all the food. Allegedly he simply stood, slack-jawed, for several minutes, before throwing a huge screaming fit at his intelligence staff. He spent the next few months desperately trying to find a crack, whilst scraping Portugal bare for forage, a feat of logistics which Wellington was very impressed by.
    • Wellington had a little one after the retreat from Burgos castle, the siege of which was his only decisive defeat. He also reportedly wept seeing the British casualties after the nasty Siege of Badajoz.
    • Nelson was incredibly upset by the loss of his arm, telling the King that "a one-armed Admiral shall never be useful". The King, in a rare moment of lucidity, told him to man the fuck up and get back out there. He did.
    • Napoleon being taken back to exile in St Helena. Apparently he found it very difficult to deal with.
    • Earlier on, in 1813, he was so affected by the successive deaths of Bessières and Duroc - two men who had served him loyally for years and whom he considered as friends - that it was arguably a cause of the apathy he displayed during the remainder of the campaign.
    • Many of Napoleon's Old Guard when they heard the news of his death - on its return to France, his coffin was followed by all the remainder of them, wearing the threadbare uniforms they had been ordered to burn by their new Royalist masters.
  • Ho Yay: The Victorians taught their students that Nelson, Britain's greatest admiral and secular war-god, had said as his last words "Thank God I have done my duty" in a conscious effort to avert this trope. Nelson almost certainly intended for "Thank God I have done my duty" to be his "line for the ages", but left out was his exchange with his flag-captain, Thomas Hardy: "Kiss me, Hardy", an innocent - nay, tear-jerking - expression of friendship and platonic love at the time, but in the age of Victorian severity, it was thought unacceptably homoerotic to be teaching the future commanders of Empire.
    • General Junot's personal devotion to Napoleon was likened by his own wife to romantic love (of course, Mrs Junot is not known for her moderation) and at any rate seemed to go well beyond even the fanatical zeal the Emperor inspired to many of his subordinates.
  • Istanbul Not Constantinople: A lot of the various wars had and still have different names in different countries (see the section listing them at the top). The same applies to a number of battles:
    • Nelson's victory against the French fleet in the night of 1st to 2nd August, 1798, usually called the Battle of the Nile in Britain and the Battle of Aboukir in France (to be balanced by the Napoleon Bonaparte's land victory of Aboukir against a Turkish army).
    • The battle of Salamanca (1812), won by British and Portuguese forces under the Duke of Wellington, is known as la bataille des Arapiles (named after a group of hills) in France.
    • The battle of Aspern (21/22 May, 1809) was so named by the victorious Austrians. Napoleon preferred to call it the battle of Essling.
    • Napoleon's official name for the battle of Borodino (1812) was the Battle of the Moskva (named after the river) and for a few years was known as the battle of Mozhaisk in continental Europe.
    • Napoleon named his Pyrrhic Victory of May 2, 1813, after the town of Lützen (several miles from the battlefield), deliberately invoking the battle of 1632. His Prussian and Russian opponents call it the battle of Großgörschen.
    • Another 1813 battle, Dennewitz, where a French offensive towards Berlin was thwarted, is known as the battle of Juterbock (correct spelling: Jüterbog) in France.
    • The battle on June 18, 1815, was named the battle of Waterloo because the Duke of Wellington wrote is victory dispatch in his headquarters there. His colleague Prince Blücher preferred the name Belle-Alliance, after an inn on the battlefield where he and Wellington are supposed to have met at the end of the battle. Thus in Prussia the name "La Belle Alliance" continued to be used, while othter German nations, in particular those represented in Wellington's army, preferred "Waterloo". By the way, the original French name for the battle was Mont-Saint-Jean, after a farm and a village situated about a mile behind Wellington's position.
  • The Juggernaut: France was so ludicrously powerful relative to its neighbors by this point in history that it simply bulled apart entire continent-wide coalitions on five different occasions. Only after about 20 years of uninterrupted war (and a campaign in Russia) was it brought down.
  • Kangaroo Court: Marshal's Ney trial was horribly rushed under the influence of Ultra-royalists wanting to find a scapegoat after the Hundred Days and Napoleon's triumphant (at first) return. Of course, it backfired and made Ney a martyr-like figure for the Bonapartists.
  • Lie Back And Think Of Poland: Polish patriots encouraged the reluctant Maria Walewska to become Napoleon's mistress.
  • Love It or Hate It: Napoleon Bonaparte himself.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Common for people hit by cannonfire or by canister shot. A rather nasty naval example comes from the explosion of L'Orient at the Battle of the Nile - which supposedly caused it to rain limbs and bodies for several minutes afterwards.
  • Made of Iron: Several soldiers managed to survive wounds that would have seemed fatal to anyone else, but Marshal Lannes' case is particularly impressive. In 1796, he was shot twice (in the chest and leg) at Bassano and yet, a few days later, he jumped on a horse and rushed to Bonaparte's help during the assault on the bridge at Arcola. There he was shot twice more in the chest and evacuated, but rode back into the fray as soon as he regained consciousness ; a third bullet finally knocked him out for the rest of the battle. During the Siege of Acre, he was shot in the throat, was left for dead on the battlefield for hours before being dragged back to safety, and all of this had no lasting consequences besides a mild stiffness of the neck. At Aboukir, he was shot point-blank in the leg, and his bones weren't even fractured, cementing the bizarre theory that his bones were literally harder than iron.
    • Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov survived being shot in the head on two occasions; he did lose his right eye, though.
  • Magnetic Hero: Nelson, Napoleon. Napoleon got the most magnetic during his 100 Days, when the army sent to capture him, swore fealty to him instead. Wellington too, pulled this off, despite being infamously cold.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Napoleon, Talleyrand, Several of the Marshalls had their moments, but the best example is Bernadotte.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: See Sir John Moore's Dying Momentof Awesome above.
    • Also Wellington and Uxbridge at Waterloo:
    Uxbridge: By God, sir! I've lost my leg!
    Wellington: By God, sir! So you have!
    • Marshal Jean Lannes tried to pull this off when a cannonball shattered both his legs at Essling, but his aides-de-camp weren't fooled.
  • Make an Example of Them: Britain's way of showing Europe its continued resolve to fight Napoleon was to invade Denmark, steal its navy, and sack Copenhagen. Oderint dum metuant indeed.
  • Mama Bear: Agustina de Aragón, The Maid of Zaragoza. During the First Siege of Zaragoza, Agustina, the wife of a fallen Spanish artilleryman, took his place at the gun at a moment where several Spanish soldiers were running away, loaded the gun and fired it, killing several Frenchmen at point blank range. This is sort of a badass version of Molly Pitcher.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • More Dakka: According to some British military historians, this was a factor in Britain's success against numerically superior French armies. The French would attack in a large column, which marched straight at the enemy. This had the advantage of being intimidating, but also meant that only the men on the front and flanks of the column could fire. The British adopted a "thin red line", which meant every single soldier could bring his musket to bear. Add the fact that, whilst the French had to beg, borrow, and steal enough saltpetre to make gunpowder, the British got all of theirs from India, which was rolling in the stuff, and whose export Britain controlled. This meant that most French soldiers' first experience of live-firing was on the battlefield, whilst the British practiced with live ammo every day. As Richard Sharpe said, three rounds a minute in any weather was not to be trifled with.
    • However, it should be noted that unwieldy large columns only started to be used by French armies fairly late, and that the way the French armies used batallion-sized columns, which could easily deploy into line or square as the situation demanded, enabled them to be much more mobile on the battlefield and defeat other armies which used linear tactics, such as those of Austria and Prussia (Prussian infantry pre 1806 was capable of firing up to six shots a minute, the only problem was that this fire was entirely unaimed). It is also worth noting that in some cases where Wellington wasn't in command British forces did not do so well, such as in the Netherlands in 1793/94 and in the Walcheren expedition of 1809. At Albuera (1811), where the British, Portuguese and Spanish forces outnumbered the French by roughly 3 to 2, the result was a bloody stalemate.
  • My Sister Is Off Limits: One French soldier suspected that one reason for German hatred of French in some quarters was that it had been common for peasant girls to be seduced (willingly or otherwise) by billeting French soldiers in the presence of their families without them being able to retaliate. Such an insult demanded a Roaring Rampage of Revenge as soon as the failed invassion of Russia made that feasible. At the least it is doubtful that Frenchmen were always thought to be pleasant company.
  • The Napoleon: Averted with the real Napoleon. His legendary short stature, from which the trope name and the related term "Napoleon Complex" come from, was just that - a legend. He was 1.70m tall, which was just above average for France at the time. A combination of his unusually short legs and British propaganda gave the impression that he was tiny. Also, the Old Guard consisted of tall soldiers and he looked short by comparison in their presence. He did, allegedly, get shorter towards the end of his life - even before his probable arsenic poisoning, he did not agree with the miserable climate of St Helena, and the years of boredom at Longwood House took a terrible toll on him.
    • Played completely straight by Nelson, though - 5'4" and hardly over 100lbs- but unlike most examples of this trope, he was proud of it (as well as the fact that he was one-handed, half-blind, very emotional and got terribly seasick- he considered that all this emphasised his courage in getting his job done anyway)
  • Napoleon Bonaparte: Had a minor role.
  • Noble Fugitive: Whoever got run out of their country by Napoleon's last conquest.
  • Not in the Face!: When Joachim Murat (one of Napoleon Bonaparte's generals, as well as his brother-in-law) was executed by firing squad for sedition against the Kingdom of Naples, he specifically said "Aim for the heart, but avoid the face". Although Murat was considered something of a vain dandy, this was more an example of him being flippant in the face of death to cap off a long life of general badassery. He also faced the firing squad unblindfolded.
  • Noxious In-Laws: During the Wars of Liberation, Napoleon was up against his father-in-law, Emperor Franz I of Austria.
    • Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law deserted Napoleon in 1813 on the advice of his wife Caroline - Napoleon's youngest sister. During the Hundred Days he chose an inopportune moment - just when Napoleon was trying to convince everybody that he wanted peace - to rally to his cause and start an ill-fated war in Italy.
    • Napoleon's brother Louis was also a kind of son-in-law to him, having married Hortense de Beauharnais, Josephine's daugther from her first marriage (mother of Napoleon III). Napoleon installed Louis as king of Holland, but since Louis adopted his new subjects' views and sabotaged Napoleon's efforts to impose a trade embargo against Britain, Louis was deposed and Holland annexed to France in 1810.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: On the retreat from Russia, some French soldiers are reported to have resorted to this.
  • Off with His Head!: The thing everyone remembers Robespierre for.
    • During the Napoleonic Wars the preferred methods were the "dry guillotine", i. e. deportation to French Guyana, and the firing squad. Notable people shot that way were the Duke of Enghien, the book-seller Palm, who refused to divulge the name of the author of a pamphlet, Tyrolean resistance leader Andreas Hofer, General Malet, and Marshals Murat and Ney.
    • Prussian rebel leader Ferdinand von Schill was decapitated after being killed fighting in the streets of Stralsund in 1809. The head was preserved in a jar at Leyden university until it was returned to Germany many years later for burial.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: The Duke of Wellington. In his army, Rape, Pillage, and Burn was punished by the Gallows. It didn't make him immediately popular with his men, but it was necessary in securing the cooperation of his Spanish and Portuguese allies. This policy slipped at the Sieges of Badajoz and San Sebastian, where his army, who had taken the city, took advantage of his confusion as to whether the very nasty battle had been won (smoke obscured the battlefield, and the French flag hadn't been taken down) to steal anything not bolted down, rape anything alive and anything that was dead if it was still fresh, and burn everything they couldn't nick or rape. Indeed, the two instances remain the worst war crimes ever perpetrated by the British Army. Wellington eventually restored order by erecting a gallows in the main square, and finding some particularly nasty looters to hang.
    • Not that Wellington was necessarily seen that way by all of his contemporaries. In Spain he was often perceived as haughty and arrogant, and his threats to enforce rigid discipline against looters and pillagers were not always taken seriously by his own men. As British grenadier William Lawrence claimed in his memoirs, after the orgy of pillage and rape after the storming of Badajoz, "Lord Wellington punished the culprits by suspending the distribution of grog".
    • On the French side, Marshal Suchet severely disciplined his troops and did everything he could to make his occupation of Catalunia acceptable to the locals, to the point that he is often credited with being the only senior officer who maintained and even increased his reputation during his time in Spain. After his death in 1826, several major Spanish cities held requiem masses in his name.
  • Pet the Dog: A famous anecdote about the Iron Duke could be a textbook example of this trope: Wellington was taking a country stroll, alone, when he happened upon a young boy weeping bitterly over a pet toad. Wellington asked the boy what the matter was, and scolded him for behavior unbecoming of a young gentleman. The boy replied that he was going away to school tomorrow, and he was worried that his pet toad would starve without him. Wellington dried the young man's eyes and told him that he would undertake to look after the toad in the boy's stead. The boy had been at school a few days when his spirits were cheered by the following message from the Duke:
    Missive: Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington begs to inform William Harris that his toad is alive and well.
  • Pirates: The Napoleonic Wars were the last major conflict in which privateers played a larger role. The most famous one was Robert Surcouf of Saint-Malo, who operated mainly in the Indian Ocean and captured or sank 47 ships. By the standards of the day he started out as an actual pirate since he did not have a letter of marque when he took his first four British ships.
  • Plucky Middie (all Plucky Middies seem to come from this period)
  • Plunder: What every hardy British seaman wants.
    • Also, as George Bernard Shaw put it, the French soldiers' motivation was "not because every soldier carries a field marshal's baton in his knapsack, but because he hopes to carry at least half a dozen silver forks there next day." Some French Marshals such as Masséna were particularly infamous for encouraging this.
  • Poles with Poleaxes: Polish volunteers served in the French army after the Third Partition of Poland in the hope of restoring their nation. In 1807 Napoleon established the Grand Duchy of Warsaw.
  • Praetorian Guard: the original duty of the Napoleonic Guard. Also the British Guards regiments.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Quite a few. A notable example was Spain's shattering victory over the French at Baylen. A Spanish Army routed a larger French one, taking three Eagles and forcing the French command in Spain to retreat over the Ebro. Unfortunately, this annoyed Napoleon enough to convince him to go to Spain personally, and the resulting blitzkrieg turned the Spanish Army that had humiliated the Empire at Baylen into the Spanish Army that ran away after being scared by their own gunfire at Talavera.
  • La Résistance: Spanish guerillas and Russian partisans.
    • Also Tyroleans (1809) and sometimes Vendéans.
  • Red Baron: Napoleon Bonaparte, also called the God of War.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Spanish partisans and Irish rebels.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Napoleon had a habit of sending his most unpredictable friends on diplomatic missions to remote countries. Most notably, Jean Lannes and Andoche Junot were made Ambassadors in Lisbon, the former in 1801 because he had recently been involved in a financial scandal and was a bit too much of a revolutionary man for Napoleon's tastes ; the latter in 1805 because he had allegedly become the lover of Caroline, the Emperor's youngest sister, and was already showing signs of his declining sanity.
    • Napoleon also sent troops and officers whom he mistrusted to far-flung assignments. For instance, during the brief peace in Europe 1802/1803 he sent off a large part of the Army of the Rhine, which had been commanded by his rival General Victor Moreau and where the republican spirit of the French Revolution was more alive than in the armies that had been led by Napoleon Bonaparte, to Saint-Domingue (Haiti). Due to yellow fever and a losing war against the former French slaves there, few of them returned. General Decaen, one of the leaders of the Army of the Rhine, was reassigned to the command of Isle-de-France (Mauritius) and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Napoleon also tried to get rid of Bernadotte by sending him as an ambassador to the United States, but Bernadotte managed to delay his departure until war was declared with Austria in 1805, at which point he was put at the head of an army corps.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Nelson's red to Wellington's blue. Similarly, Napoleon's red to Bernadotte's blue. However, Napoleon was in turn the blue to Marshals Ney, Lannes and Murat's red.
    • The first one is rather ironic given the uniform of the British Army was red, and the uniform of the Royal Navy was blue.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Sweden saw Norway as this after losing Finland to Russia.
    • After Marshal Lannes died in 1809, Napoleon created three new Marshals; given that none of the three were anywhere near Lannes's level, the soldiers started to say that he was trying to get the "small change" for a comrade he could not replace.
  • Rousing Speech: Damn you, Napoleon...
    • "Soldats, songez que du haut de ces monuments, quarante siècles vous contemplent"note . Right before ordering the attack, at the Great Pyramid battle in Egypt.
    • After Austerlitz battle, his speech ends this way: " [...] il vous suffira de dire: 'J'étais à la bataille d'Austerlitz' pour que l'on vous réponde: 'Voilà un brave' ". note 
      • On the opposite side, Lord Nelson gave a rousing signal before the Battle of Trafalgar: 'England expects every man to do his duty.'
  • Secret Weapon: Britain had two famous ones, the Shrapnel case shot and the Congreve rocket (based on those that Indian states had used against the British Army). Of how much use the Congreve rockets actually were is still a matter of debate - Wellington with typical acerbity commented that they were only useful to burn down cities (e.g. in the bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807), which he was not really planning to do.
    • Austria had its "Repetierwindbuechse" air rifles, which were just about the only guns at the time that could fire multiple shots at a time.
    • Napoleon on the other hand wasn't a fan of such things, being famously contemptuous of both the rifle and the steam engine. On the latter, he said to Robert Fulton (who had invented the first practical steam ship and was offering to sell France a few):
    You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I have no time for such nonsense.
  • Self-Made Man: Napoleon himself. He rose from the son of nigh-impoverished nobility, vilified for being a Corsican when France had only recently conquered it, to become Emperor of France. Primarily through a mixture of luck, good public relations and, oh yes, being very, very good at winning battles. Among his Marshals, Bernadotte also stands out: the son of a lawyer from Southern France, he became a General at 31 and the King of Sweden at 55, with little to no support from Napoleon.
    • Marshal Andre Massena probably has Bernadotte beat: he began life as a poor cabin boy who joined the French Army to avoid a life at sea...and rose to be Marshal, Duke of Rivoli, and Prince of Essling.
    • Averted by Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, who made full use of the privileges afforded by coming from a well-connected and rich noble family. He entered the army as an ensign in 1787 and rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in six years by the then-current system of purchasing commissions, and all this before his first service in the field.
    • Two examples from the Prussian army: Gerhard Scharnhorst was the son of a Hanoverian peasant who wanted to become an officer, teaching himself French and mathematics from books because such education was not to be had in his village. Later, when his father inherited an estate, he could afford to go to a military academy in the region, and during the War of the First Coalition managed to rise from the command of a battery to chief of staff of the Hanoverian army. Having reached the glass ceiling for officers not from noble families, Scharnhorst responded favourably to ouvertures from Prussia to enter into its service, and after the defeat of 1806/07 rose to the de facto position of minister of war and chief of general staff. He was mortally wounded in the first major battle in 1813 while serving as Blücher's chief of staff as a lieutenant-general. Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Reyher, the son of a cantor, first was a simple foot soldier, served as a sergeant in Ferdinand von Schill's ill-fated rebellion in 1809, passed his officer's exam in 1810 and rose to the rank of major after the battle of Waterloo. He eventually became chief of the general staff and a full general.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Between Napoleon and his younger brother Lucien, a fervent Republican who openly opposed him. The other brothers sometimes tried to assert themselves, but did not have the necessary willpower to succeed in it.
  • The Siege: Several, obviously, the most well-known ones being the defense of Kolberg in 1807 and the two sieges of Saragossa in 1808/1809.
    • Napoleon Bonaparte won his first laurels at the siege of Toulon during the War of the First Coalition, while in that of the Second Coalition his campaign into Syria failed because his army could not take Acre.
  • Snow Means Death: The Retreat from Moscow.
    • Also the horrific battle of Eylau, 8 February, 1807.
  • The Sound of Martial Music: Other than the British Army, the Austrian Army spent more time fighting the French than any other.
  • Spinoff: The War of 1812
    • And a few others, see above.
  • The Starscream: Napoleon himself was one to the Directory (as Dragon-in-Chief), and he was to get two of his own: Bernadotte and Talleyrand.
  • Stiff Upper Lip (Wellington): Because he is the most Quintessential British Gentleman of them all. In fact, given that there was a lot of Britain in the Napoleonic Wars, there was a lot of this, such as Lord Uxbridge at the Battle of Waterloo:
    Uxbridge: By God sir! I've lost my leg!
    Wellington: By God sir! So you have.
    • Nelson, after being fatally wounded at Trafalgar, gave a masterclass in this trope:
    Nelson: Hardy, I do believe they have done it at last… my backbone is shot through. Take care of poor Lady Hamilton for me.
    • He then had the men carrying him below stop so he could correct a young midshipman's handling of Victory's tiller.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Both Napoleon and Wellington loved to invoke this trope to explain their reverses, Wellington with slightly more justification than Napoleon, who for the most part had appointed the people himself on whose real or imagined incompetence or treachery he blamed his defeats.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Several documented instances. In fact, Marshal Masséna spent his whole time in Portugal with his mistress disguised as a aide-de-camp at his side, one of the many things that earned him Ney's contempt during this campaign.
  • Lose then Retake a Level in Badass: The Prussian Army.
    • One Russian observer said "They are Frederick's Prussians again".
  • Tear Jerker: The death of Marshal Lannes was a literal one for the Old Guard, and even for Napoleon himself. Marbot, one of Lannes' aides, reported that the usually impassible Emperor "embraced the Marshal's body and covered him in tears, and several times he exclaimed: What a tragic loss for France and for me !..."
    • Another famous one was Napoleon's farewell to his Old Guard on his abdication in 1814 (les Adieux de Fontainebleau).
    • For the Prussian royal family and Prussians in general, the death of Queen Louise at age 34.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Happened on both sides:
    • Although after a while his enemies tended to be overawed by Napoleon, sometimes they underestimated him. A famous case was during the run-up to Austerlitz, when a number of the younger members of Czar Alexander's military entourage thought that even though Napoleon and his army had just trounced the Austrians, it would not be too hard for the Russian army to defeat him. Napoleon exploited this and deliberately gave the impression that he was scared of a battle, then pounced at Austerlitz. Later on, during the French campaign of 1814, the Allied leadership was so confident that after the Retreat from Moscow and the defeat at Leipzig Napoleon was finished, and so concentrated more on making plans for the post-war order in Europe than on winning the war against Napoleon. They were in for a rude surprise.
    • Napoleon himself tended to underestimate Blücher and the Prussian army, which cost him dearly on the first day of the battle of Leipzig (October 16, 1813) and in the Waterloo campaign, where he could not believe that the Prussians would be able to come to the aid of Wellington's army two days after their defeat at Ligny. Blücher also tended to be dismissed as a mere bruiser who won mostly by dumb luck by quite a few people, including Lord Byron, who could not forgive him for defeating his hero Napoleon despite being too uncouth for his taste: "With the voice and manners of a recruiting Sergeant, he pretended to the honours of a hero; just as if a stone could be worshipped because a man stumbled over it."
    • During his last campaign, Napoleon was warned not to underestimate Wellington by some of his marshals and generals who had fought against him in the Peninsular War. His response was: "Just because he defeated you, you think he's a good general." And throughout the 19th century there continued to be French officers and military historians who seriously proposed that the Waterloo campaign showed Napoleon still to be the greatest general in the world (if not for incompetent lieutenants and/or traitors, he would have won) and Wellington and Blücher covered in shame because of the incompetence they displayed in 1815.
  • Warrior Prince: Quite a few of the traditional kind, i. e. members of imperial, royal and ducal houses, and some of the other kind, i. e. former noblemen and commoners who got a royal or princely rank conferred on them by a certain former member of the minor nobility of Corsica.
  • We Have Reserves: Everyone started to introduce Conscription in a race to get as many Reserves as possible. Culminating in The Battle of the Nations at Leipzig
  • Will They or Won't They?: The alliance between Russia and Sweden, two ancient enemies. This drove the British mad, until Napoleon decided the matter for them.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Napoleon actually said he should have done this with Talleyrand long after it was too late. After learning of Marshal Soult's extortions in Spain, he also said: "I should have made an example and shot Soult, the worst plunderer of them all." Instead, he just let him pull a Karma Houdini and Soult died a very rich man.
    • According to some accounts, when Wellington sat for a portrait for Goya in Madrid in 1812, he behaved so arrogantly and made remarks so insulting to the Spaniards that Goya went for his pair of pistols and had to be restrained by his son from trying to shoot him.
  • The Woobie: Denmark. First tried to be neutral and was attacked twice by the British, who at the second go set fire to Copenhagen using saturation bombardment. Driven into an alliance with Napoleon, it then lost Norway to Sweden in 1814.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The definitive era of same.
  • Worthy Opponent: Napoleon's thoughts on the Prussians.
  • You Have Failed Me: Possibly Admiral Villeneuve, disastrous French commander at Trafalgar, who "committed suicide". His method seems rather suspect. According to the official verdict, he first stabbed himself in the heart, then stabbed himself in the left lung six times.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Britain gradually left Sweden out of the loop in 1814, because of the constant stress made by the Swedish over "the Norwegian question". Thus, Britain answered back by actually helping Norway against Sweden, and also by keeping Sweden out of further discussion when Napoleon eventually struck back in 1815.
  • You Killed My Father: Exiled Duke Frederick William of Brunswick raised a free corps which was uniformed all in black in memory of his father, who had been killed in 1806 while in command of the Prussian Army. The "Black Duke" and his corps fought on the Austrian side in 1809, then, after the Austrians sued for peace, fought its way from Bohemia to the North Sea, to be shipped to the Iberian Peninsula to continue fighting there. In 1813/14 the Black Duke returned to Brunswick, but was killed at Quatre Bras on 16 June, 1815, once again fighting the French.

In fiction:

  • Napoleon's official army bulletins. There is a good reason why the expression "to lie like a bulletin" entered the French language under his reign.
  • Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma shows its hero as an unwitting observer of the battle of Marengo in 1800, a device that Tolstoy later copied.
  • Lord Byron's Don Juan contains references to the Russian siege of Izmail (1790). His Childe Harold also contains a famous poetic version of the Duchess of Richmond's ball on the eve of the Waterloo campaign.
  • The Polish national epic Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz is set in Lithuania before and during Napoleon's invasion of Russia.
  • Tolstoy's novel War and Peace, which includes not just a famous account of the battle of Borodino, but big chunks of both the 1805 and 1812 campaigns. Also turned into several movies and television series, as well as an opera (by Prokofiev).
  • Les Misérables - contains an account of Waterloo in which Victor Hugo declares the French, and in particular Count Cambronne, the moral victors. He also wrote an epic poem that was highly influential on the popular image of that battle in France.
  • Theodor Fontane's first novel, Before the Storm, is set in Prussia in the winter of 1812/13. Schach von Wuthenow presents the country as ossified on the eve of the war of 1806.
  • The Conscript of 1813 and Waterloo by Erckmann and Chatrian. One of the most realistic 19th century novelizations of the last years of the wars from the perspective of an unassuming Alsatian recruit.
  • The Brigadier Gerard books by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Bloody Jack.
  • The Man of Destiny by George Bernard Shaw
  • Goya by Lion Feuchtwanger (also filmed)
  • Horatio Hornblower
  • Fevre Dream
  • Seven Men of Gascony
    • Delderfield also wrote Too Few for Drums featuring a Plucky Middie ON LAND!
  • Sharpe
  • Abel Gance's massive silent movie Napoléon (1927) was meant to be the first of a whole series, but the lack of commercial success meant: no sequels, and so the story stops cold at the beginning of Napoleon's Italian Campaign. However, in 1960 Gance did make Austerlitz.
  • Conquest aka Marie Walewska - Greta Garbo plays Napoleon's Polish mistress
  • Kolberg, a Nazi propaganda movie from 1944 about the successful defense of the the fortress in 1807, which somewhat glosses over the fact that unlike in 1944, Britain and Russia were Prussia's allies in 1807.
  • The Duellists
  • Aubrey-Maturin
  • Waterloo
  • The Temeraire series follows the Wars of the Third and Fourth Coalitions fairly closely (with the obvious exception of the draconic air forces) before going completely Off the Rails in the fourth book.
  • The Tales Of Ensign Stål: A collection of poems about the Finnish war.
  • Honor Harrington started out as the Napoleonic Wars In Space! Though the Napoleon expy actually fails and sends things Off the Rails.
  • Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series follows on from The Scarlet Pimpernel and tracks the adventures of similarly-named spies in Britain, Ireland, France and India during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon himself appears in the first book.
  • Un Ballo in Maschera by Giuseppe Verdi is an operatic dramatization of the assassination of king Gustavus III of Sweden, only due to the censors' constraint the story had to be transposed to ... Massachusetts.
  • Tosca, the opera by Giacomo Puccini, is tangentially related: the war affects it, though it hardly affects the war.
  • Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote an epic poem based on stories from the British blockade of Norway. The poem, Terje Vigen, is arguably Ibsen´s greatest tear jerker, relating the story of a fisherman trying to breach the blockade by rowing to Denmark for supplies for his family. The Brits intervene, of course, and the antagonist spends the rest of the war in prison, only to find his family dead when returning home. The rest of the poem tells of his resentment and eventual revenge on the British lord who made him miserable. They all figure it out in the end, though. English translation: http://www.sitater.com/home/ibsen/vigen/idx_eng.htm

Art and Architecture

  • Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David (produced in five versions, 1801-1805) shows an idealized Napoleon on a rearing charger. In 1850 Paul Delaroche produced a painting showing the same subject as it really happened: Napoleon riding on a mule led by a guide.
  • Francisco Goya's paintings of the Second and Third of May 1808 in Madrid, the first showing the Madrilenes fighting Napoleon's Mameluks of the Guard in the streets, the latter the shooting by French firing squad of a group of Spanish rebels. Also Goya's sometimes spine-chilling series of prints, Los desastres de la guerra.
  • The Napoleonic Wars were commemorated in a number of monuments all over Europe, notably the Column of the Grande Armée (on the place Vendôme), the Arc de Triomphe and the smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carroussel in Paris, Nelson's Column on Trafalgar Square in London, the cast-iron Kreuzbergdenkmal in Berlin, the Lion of Waterloo (which commemorates the wounding of the Prince of Orange, later King William II of the Netherlands), and the Völkerschlachtsdenkmal (1913) in Leipzig.

Music

  • Beethoven originally wanted to dedicate his Third Symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte, but changed his mind when he learned that he was making himself an emperor. In 1809 he wrote a march for the Austrian Landwehr (militia), which was picked up in 1813 by the Prussians, which is why it is now best known as the Marsch des Yorckschen Korps. He also wrote his "battle symphony" (originally scored for a musical automat) to commemorate Wellington's 1813 victory at Vitoria.
  • Tchaikovsky's 1812 Ouverture, scored for a full orchestra, church bells and real cannons.

Non-Fiction

  • Lots of participants wrote memoirs and histories afterwards. Thanks to the advances of public education, these included several junior officers and even some NCOs and privates. Of course, unrealiable narrators abound.
  • More books have been written about Napoleon than about anyone else in history.
  • Two generals who fought in the Napoleonic Wars had a huge influence on military theory in the subsequent centuries, Antoine de Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz, the latter the author of On War. To this day the Napoleonic Wars tend to be among the wars that are studied the most at military academies. Among the West Point graduates who tried to emulate the Napoleonic operations and strategies in their campaigns can be found Robert E. Lee and Norman Schwarzkopf (who is said to have been inspired to his plan for Operation Desert Storm by Napoleon's 1805 campaign).

Table Top Games

  • The first proper wargames were developed in Germany during the Napoleonic wars as educational aids for officers.
  • Miniatures Wargaming got its start with Napoleonic miniatures.
  • One of Avalon Hill's first board wargames, in the early 1960's, was - you guessed it - "Waterloo", based on the Hundred Days campaign. The Napoleonic Wars have proven an especially popular subject for map-and-counter (and, later, computer) wargaming ever since.
  • On a related note, the battle of Waterloo/La Belle Alliance is especially well-documented in part because William Siborne, who made dioramas of the battle with miniature soldiers, got every surviving participating officer he could get his hands on to write down what they had done and seen there.

Video Games

  • Cossacks 2 : Napoleonic Wars and its expansion Battle for Europe.
  • Napoleon Total War and its expansion The Peninsular Campaign.

Fan Fics


French Political SystemHollywood HistorySteam Punk
Latin Pronunciation GuideUsefulNotes/EuropeNATO
Murder WaterImageSource/ArtNo Eye in Magic
Napoleon BonaparteAdministrivia/Useful Notes Pages in MainNarrative Poem
Moorish SpainUseful NotesNational Reorganization Process

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
147375
5