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Useful Notes / The Napoleonic Wars

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

The wars between Napoléon Bonaparte's French Empire and various states in Europe in the early nineteenth century. Known as "The Great War" before another global conflict usurped the title a hundred years later.

The various conflicts 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, especially in the case of Great Britain, which was almost continuously at war with France from 1793 until 1815.

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     Prelude (1791-1802) 
The Napoleonic Wars were more or less a continuation of the upheaval wrought by The French Revolution, and owe their direct causes to the wars of the First and Second Coalitions against France. The first of the Coalition Wars began in 1791. The French Revolution was in full swing, and many French, particularly aristocrats who were disliked by the bourgeois revolutionaries, had fled to neighboring countries. One of these countries (if you could call it that) was the Holy Roman Empire. These refugees, known as émigré, pressured the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold II, into declaring war on France. Leopold didn't bite, but he did send a warning to France that he would intervene if the royal family was harmed. This is partly because King Louis XVI's wife, Marie Antoinette, was his sister, but it also had to do with reactionary backlash to the Revolution, as other European monarchs like Leopold feared similar liberal revolutions in their own nations. Allowing the monarchy of France to be hurt or killed set a bad precedent for the other European monarchies, so he moved the Imperial armies to the border of France in preparation for such an event. The revolutionaries, already incensed by his warning, demanded that he withdraw his forces from France's borders. When he refused to do so, France declared war on him.

This had the unfortunate result in bringing nearly the entire continent to war with France. Political intermarriage had resulted in the continent being ruled by a small handful of dynasties. Not only that, but the monarchies of Europe were terrified of the revolutionary fervor gripping France, and sought to contain their liberal ideals lest they be deposed. Leopold II was not only the ruler of Austria, but he was also the king of Hungary and controlled Czechia and much of the Balkans. He also controlled the Netherlands. As Holy Roman Emperor, his dominion theoretically extended over the rest of the Holy Roman Empire, which mostly consisted of Germany and Northern Italy. One of the most powerful German states, Prussia, joined Leopold. King George III of Great Britain also intervened, in part because, as the elector of Hannover, he was also a part of the Holy Roman Empire, but mostly because the British population became deeply opposed to the "excesses" of the Revolution, and the British upper class that would still dominate until it expanded suffrage for men in 1832. Not only was France fighting these powers, but they were also facing an internal war against counter-revolutionaries, who were supported by Britain. It was against these rebels that Napoleon would first make a name for himself, when his tactics helped the revolutionaries capture the city of Toulon. Napoleon had been from a very minor, if not outright impoverished Corsican noble family that had moved to France when he was young. He was enrolled in a military academy and became distinguished among his peers for his intellect, his cunning, and his impressive abilities as an artillerist.

The actual course of the War of the First Coalition itself saw France score numerous victories in Northern Italy, largely spearheaded by Napoleon Bonaparte, who was quickly rising through the ranks with every success. Although the war had been declared by France in April of 1792, the Coalition did not acknowledge it, instead issuing the Brunswick Manifesto threatening invasion if the French royal family was harmed. In August of that year, a mob seized Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, sparking a Coalition invasion. The French made a few attempts to cross the Rhine and invade Germany proper, but each time they were repulsed. The French crossed into the Low Countries and would continue to battle with the Coalition forces in what is now Belgium until 1795. By the end of 1792, France had made some impressive gains, but the situation internally was unstable. The Revolutionary government was beginning to turn on itself, with the radical Montagnards turning on the moderate Girondists, sparking the Reign of Terror, a period of revolutionary excess where the government became increasing tyrannical and violent. Resistance was brewing throughout the country, not only from disaffected revolutionaries but also royalists. Meanwhile, the Coalition reorganized and counter-attacked in what is now Belgium, driving the French out of the Low Countries. This demonstration of weakness sparked reactionary monarchists and conflicting revolutionary groups to rebel throughout France.

In August of 1792, Louis XVI was arrested and deposed, and the French Republic was born. On the 21st of January, 1793, Louis XVI and his wife were executed, having been convicted of collusion with the invading Coalition by the National Assembly. Spain and Portugal entered into the war against France promptly thereafter. Spain was ruled by the Bourbon dynasty, of which the French king Louis XVI was a member. They also had dominion over Naples and Sicily. Portugal was a British ally note  and also sought to contain France, so they also intervened. British, Spanish, and Sardinian troops would deploy to France to aid royalist forces, reinforcing Toulon. Napoleon Bonaparte would find himself leading the artillery in the lengthy siege of the port. Bonaparte's bravery in leading assaults and counter-attacks, as well as his discerning tactical choices, proved instrumental in winning the field for the Revolutionaries. It was just one of many Revolutionary victories of that year, with Napoleon also spearheading several in Italy, and by 1794 things were very much in France's favor. However, the homefront was still turbulent. The Reign of Terror, led by Maximilian Robespierre and his Committee of Public Safety, was overthrown, and a new government was formed. The National Convention was split into two chambers, headed by an executive branch of 5 leaders from the upper house, chosen from a list of recommendations by the lower house. These 5 leaders comprised France's executive branch, and were known as the Directory.

The next year, France launched invasions across all fronts, advancing into the Netherlands and sparking the Dutch to rebel. The Dutch rebels created the Batavian Republic and fought alongside the French as loyal allies.note  Prussia promptly dropped out of the war, ceding its territories west of the Rhine. They had been wary of the conflict since day one, being bogged down with occupying Poland and generally making unreliable allies to the Austrians, as they were ultimately only allies of convenience and had been mortal enemies mere decades prior. While things were certainly going in France's favor, rebellions continued in the Vendée. The French Revolutionaries rolled out increasing brutal measures to quell these rebels, leading to massacres of tens of thousands. Napoleon himself participated in one, ordering grapeshot to be fired into a Vendean mob. Not long afterwards, Napoleon once again found himself promoted, this time to the commander of the Army of Italy. He scored numerous victories against Coalition forces, leading to much of Piedmont to be occupied by France. Spain promptly dropped out of the war that same year, after the French decisively defeated them and came close to taking their capital. Throughout 1796, Napoleon scored victory after victory against the Austrians in Italy, essentially driving them from the country by the end of the year. In 1797, Napoleon began marching on Austria proper, forcing Leopold II to capitulate. Beyond the strategic brilliance of France's leaders, their success also came from their mass conscription system. While Leopold II struggled with a dated bureaucracy that limited his military options (and often resulted in unqualified military leaders due to nepotism), the French used a meritocracy for their officers that rewarded success, and were able to conscript far more men than the enemy could kill. Even when surrounded on all sides, France still fought the rest of the continent to a standstill. The subsequent treaty would see France's borders and sphere of influence increase dramatically. This would result in some anti-French rebellions in the occupied territory, mostly as a result of their conscription policies.

Britain remained at war with France, and it was in this atmosphere that Napoleon made an ill-advised attempt at invading Egypt. The Directory authorized this, seeing Napoleon's rising star as a threat to their power. Supposedly he aimed to cut off Britain from their colonies in South Asia, but really the invasion was for him to stroke his ego and satisfy his fascination with Alexander the Great. The invasion of Egypt resulted in many tactical victories for France on land, but the destruction of the French fleet at Aboukir would have disastrous consequences for France later down the line, making the expedition a strategic failure. The French also failed to achieve the popular support that they had gotten in the Netherlands, as despite their efforts, they always seemed as hostile foreign occupiers to the Egyptians. Meanwhile, the French also sent an expeditionary force to aid an Irish uprising against British rule, but the British routed them on the way to Dublin, and their reinforcements were intercepted by the Royal Navy. The French also invaded and occupied Switzerland, taking advantage of Republican revolts in the country to establish the Helvetic Republic. They also seized the Papal States, installing a friendly republican regime. It was clear to Austria that France did not have peaceful intentions, and the French were suspicious of Austria, expecting them to betray the armistice. Ultimately, this resulted in the outbreak of another war in 1799, when Britain and Austria allied with Russia in the Second Coalition.

1799 saw the Austrians score numerous victories against the French, with their Russian allies faring poorer. They drove the French back in Germany and laid siege to French-held Genoa. That year, Napoleon returned from Egypt. He was aware of the dire position France was in, and had become increasingly disdainful of the Directory as it descended from being the lawful executive of a representative republican regime to a narrow oligarchy. His successes in Italy and Egypt had gained him an immense amount of support, and with that support, he was able to coup the Directory and install himself as "First Consul," effectively becoming the dictator of France. He proved to be better respected than the Directory was, however, and often ruled with some form of popular support behind him.

In 1800, Napoleon went to Northern Italy to conquer the defiant portions, while his other generals attacked once more across the Rhine, with more success. Napoleon made a daring crossing of the Alps, with his army braving high snowdrifts and frigid temperatures while under heavy load, but the gambit allowed him to encircle Austrian forces in the region. The French were able to defeat the Austrians in the Rhineland and march straight through Bavaria, once again putting Vienna in danger and forcing Leopold II to sue for peace. The next year, the French forces in Egypt, with their supply situation dire and the local populace becoming increasingly hostile, surrendered. However, the French continued to win in Europe. Austria signed the Treaty of Luneville and Russia was no longer persecuting the war, leaving Britain the sole remaining enemy of France once more. The British blockaded France and most of the continent in an effort to starve out the French, resulting in most continental nations switching sides in an effort to resume shipping. The superior British fleet would defeat their efforts to break the blockade, however.

The war was a stalemate. Napoleon could not invade Britain, at least not yet, but Britain could not invade France. Both sides recognized the situation and negotiated a peace at the Treaty of Amiens, ending the Revolutionary Wars. France had effectively won, having not only defended the new revolutionary government, but also acquiring more land and puppet states. However, the monarchies of Europe were ever restless, and Napoleon grew more ambitious. It was clear peace would not last, and Europe's nightmare was just beginning.

     Vive l'Empereur (1802-1807) 
Napoleon was more popular than ever, and his position as consul was voted into permanence, making him dictator for life. Although the nation he ruled was more powerful than ever in Europe, its colonial empire was waning. The African slaves of Haiti, who made up the majority of the colony's population, revolted and seized power. The French expedition was unable to quell the revolt, and Haiti won its independence, albeit saddled with indemnities for "stolen property" i.e. liberated slaves, and also having no international recognition due to the pariah status of being a state of formerly enslaved peoples. Meanwhile, France needed to recuperate some of the expenses of the Revolutionary Wars, so Napoleon made the decision to sell the remaining French colony in North America to the young United States. The war with Britain quickly resumed, officially over Maltese sovereignty, but mostly just because of the two nation's mutual distrust of each other.

The Royal Navy continued to rule the seas, and Napoleon was not without opposition at home. Numerous assassination plots, both real and imagined, spurred Napoleon into centralizing power. Napoleon believed that the source of the plots was the Bourbon dynasty, who were conspiring with loyalists to overthrow Napoleon. He violated the sovereignty of Baden to kidnap the Duke of Enghein, a Bourbon, and executed him extra-judicially, which greatly angered the other states of Europe. Then, in 1804, Napoleon centralized the Republic into an Empire, crowning himself Emperor that December.

Britain was able to ally with Russia in 1805. Not long afterwards, Napoleon crowned himself the King of Italy, ending the rule of the puppet Republic of Italy and angering Austria, which joined Britain and Russia. This alliance became known as the Third Coalition. The two most decisive and interesting parts of the War of the Third Coalition were the Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of Austerlitz. In the former, the British fleet intercepted the combined Franco-Spanish fleetnote  in the Western Mediterranean. The battle was one of the most important of the wars, because it ended Napoleon's plans for invading Britain. Although it cost the life of Admiral Horatio Nelson, the battle secured British dominance over the seas for the next century.

The Battle of Austerlitz has long been considered Napoleon's magnum opus. In 1805, the Austrians were once again losing the war, with one large army humiliatingly defeated in Ulm (resulting in the capture of 60,000 men) and Vienna occupied by Napoleon's force. A combined Russo-Austrian army marched to retake the capital. Napoleon defeated the force and ended the Third Coalition, with Austria coming to terms. In 1806, Austria was forced to cede Venetia to the French puppet kingdom of Italy, and the reigning Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II, abdicated the throne. Napoleon dismantled the Holy Roman Empire and replaced it with the Confederation of the Rhine, which included most France-aligned states in Germany.

The Coalition was effectively reorganized, with Prussia now intervening alongside Sweden, Saxony, and the British and Russians, who had not actually ceased fighting. The Fourth Coalition promised to be the most ambitious yet, as both Sweden and Prussia had some great martial fame of their own. Despite this, Prussia was easily defeated in less than a month. The Prussian army, once renowned for its performance during the wars of the previous century, was badly outmaneuvered and devastated at the Battle of Jena and even more embarrassingly so at the Battle of Auerstadt where Marshal Davout fought them off with a single corp. Napoleon would later famously say at the grave of Frederick the Great, "If he were still alive today, we wouldn't be here."

Napoleon managed to convince the Ottomans to ally with him, but this ended in disaster when the Russians defeated them on land and sea. Napoleon continued his advance, now entering Russian-occupied Poland. He was able to defeat the Russians in several key battles, forcing Russia to come to terms. The Fourth Coalition had already lost most of its key members.

That same year, Napoleon instituted the Continental System, which forced the states of Europe to cease all trade with Britain. The system was an infamous failure, with many goods being traded through Spain and Russia despite Napoleon's wishes.

Britain was continuing the war overseas, primarily against France's ally, Spain. They attempted to take over Rio de Plata (now known as Argentina) and suffer an embarrassing defeat. In Europe, the Royal Fleet preempted an attempt to turn over the Danish fleet to the French by attacking it in harbor at Copenhagen. While this brought Denmark into the war against Britain, it also kept their ships from being used by Napoleon, which was strategically far more important.

By 1807, Napoleon had practically reached his peak. Although he had lost the war at sea and was losing the war abroad, the war on the continent was decisively in his favor. Former enemies, such as Russia, Austria, and Prussia, were all forced to submit to France's hegemony, and Napoleon's rule over the continent was largely unquestioned. He had established numerous loyal states, such as Westphalia, the Confederation of the Rhine, and the Duchy of Warsaw. Some historians claim that Napoleon wished to stop here, but the actions of his enemies drew him in to further conflict.

But one enemy remained. Britain, protected by the seas and the Royal Navy, still stood, with a vast overseas empire. The blockade of France presented many economic difficulties, and the Continental System only exacerbated them, hurting France far more than Britain. Napoleon's attempts to enforce the Continental System and cut off Britain would eventually become his undoing.

     The Empire Strikes Back (1807-1812) 
While Britain continued the war alone, they did have one last partner in Continental Europe: Portugal. The Portuguese are the oldest allies of Britain, and it is so surprise that they refused to implement Napoleon's trade embargo on the British. To add credibility to his word and attempt to strangle the British economy, Napoleon decided that Portugal had to be brought to terms. Together with Spain, the French invaded Portugal.

Although Spain had been France's ally for over a decade, the relationship was not great. The public was bitterly divided over French hegemony, as was the monarchy. Napoleon no longer trusted the Spanish, and had little use for them with their fleet in shambles and Portugal having capitulated. Still, before Napoleon could make his move, the people of Madrid rebelled against the French on the 2nd of May, 1808. The French violently suppressed the rebellion and executed hundreds, which incited the population of Spain into a much larger rebellion. Napoleon's attempt to install his brother as King of Spain also met with hostility, and before long, the situation was spiraling out of control. Spanish guerrillas note  started making uncoordinated attacks on the French. The French were absolutely brutal, carrying out reprisal attacks and killing entire villages. Throughout the summer, the Spanish engaged in a series of battles that managed to wrestle control of most of the Iberian Peninsula. During this time, a shock defeat was inflicted upon a French army at Bailen which consequently raised hopes across Europe that the all-powerful French army could be beaten. The British also deployed tens of thousands of men to the Peninsula, seeing this as a great opportunity to wreak havoc in Napoleon's backyard. Napoleon raised an army and personally led them into Spain, swiftly defeating the numerically superior Spanish forces and driving the British off the Iberian Peninsula.

The Spanish would reorganize and continue fighting French forces for years, but Napoleon returned to France to prepare for the War of the Fifth Coalition. The Fifth Coalition was yet another attempt by Britain and Austria to subdue Napoleon. The British tried far more extensively than before to support their continental ally, sending forces to attempt to aid the Austrians, to no avail. Meanwhile, they sent another expedition to Spain, led by the later Duke of Wellington, who saw more success than his predecessors by helping to liberate Portugal.

The Austrians had been initially successful against the French, pushing into Bavaria. However, Napoleon, to nobody's surprise, was able to halt their offensive and send them reeling after personally taking command of the armies in Germany. However, the French Army was about to be subjected to yet another surprise defeat. At the Battle of Aspern-Essling, Archduke Charles successfully repelled Napoleon's attempts to cross the Danube and during the battle, Marshal Lannes, one of Napoleon's best marshals and personal friend, was killed by a cannonball. In the end though, Napoleon was able to subdue the Austrians once more at the battle of Wagram, ending the War of the Fifth Coalition bloodily.

By 1810, the French Empire had reached its greatest extent, with its personal territory and satellite states controlling nearly the entire continent of Europe, sans Portugal, Sardinia, and Russia. Abroad, the Spanish Empire was collapsing after Napoleon's brother took the throne, with rebellions starting in Latin America that would eventually win the Latin American nations their independence. Meanwhile, the war in Iberia was tying down thousands of French soldiers. The French attempt to invade Portugal was repulsed, and the Anglo-Portuguese forces advanced into Spain. Over the course of the next two years, Joseph Bonaparte's regime would unravel, as his forces suffered disastrous defeats and Badajoz and Salamanca.

However, Napoleon was not satisfied with Russia, which was making little to no effort to enforce the Continental System. Even though the Russians had helped Napoleon fight the Swedes and British, he did not fully trust them, and the Russians felt the same. In an effort to bring Russia to heel, Napoleon invaded in the summer of 1812.

     The Price of Hubris (1812-1814) 
With the rest of the continent under its hegemony, France naturally came to dispute Russian sovereignty. The biggest bone of contention was the Duchy of Warsaw, a state Napoleon had created out of territory ceded to him by Prussia after his invasion in 1807note  It was ultimately an empty gesture towards Polish independence, however, as it was firmly under the control France and had no real sovereignty. There had been much hand-wringing in Russia about the possibility of Polish independence, as Russia held the majority of Polish territory and viewed it as an integral -although horrifically abused and discriminated against- part of their population. By this point, Russia had been under no real threat of revolutionary outburst, as the systems of serfdom and nobility kept the country under a very large, very stompy boot. The threat of a Polish uprising might inspire other uprisings as well, so the independence of Poland, nominal though it was, had to end. Napoleon used this as his bone of contention to invade Russia with the casus belli of enforcing the continental system, but really as a consequence of ego. A man with a military mind sees every country as an enemy, and if said man is an absolute savant at winning battles, then he is going to see every diplomatic option as leading to war. Every slight was a threat to French sovereignty. To be fair, the Russians also desired war; Czar Alexander was young and losing the support of his nobility, who viewed his cordial friendship with Napoleon with distrust, and they were dismayed by Napoleon's revolutionary fervor. They deeply feared that he would liberate the serfs, and even if they lost, their ideas would continue to spread regardless, which proved very prophetic, but not in the way that they suspected.

Napoleon's invasion was fought with supply problems from the very beginning. They had yet to even leave the Duchy of Warsaw before the supply train started breaking down. It was a portend of things to come. Part of the issue was that Napoleon's army was simply too gigantic; Le Grande Armee forces numbered at least 400,000, with some estimates putting it above 600,000. It was an impressive host for the time, and it was assembled with forces from every client nation of France. Much of the army spoke no French at all, yet many contingents, particularly the Italians, would gain fame for their resolve. However, it would all be for nothing, as a force of that size proved impossible for the infrastructure that had been prepared for it, and immediately the invasion ran into problems.

Napoleon had thought that a decisive defeat of the Russian armies would force them to capitulate, just as it had before. However, Russian Minister of War Barclay de Tolly had no intention to give Napoleon the decisive battle he sought, and instead implemented a "scorched earth" policy, burning fields and infrastructure and pulling back his forces. The policy was working. Napoleon's supply lines were stretched thin and proved inadequate to supply his massive force over such a vast distance. However, de Tolly's policy was deeply unpopular with the Russian people and monarchy, as a lack of decisive victories and the surrendering of massive amounts of territory -albeit burned and useless territory- was demoralizing to the Russian people. This compelled de Tolly to face Napoleon in a pitched battle at Smolensk, which he lost. He was sacked and replaced by Prince Mikhail Kutuzov. Despite his advancing age and disputable mental fitness, he would actually managed to perform better than de Tolly on the field, although this was mostly by accident and his willingness to keep throwing bodies at the enemy. Napoleon continued his advance into Russia, coming dangerously close to Moscow. In response, Kutuzov confronted Napoleon at Borodino. The battle was hard-fought, and Napoleon narrowly won the day. It ended up being the bloodiest day of the Napoleonic Wars. The Russians were able to retreat from the advancing French, saving most of what was left of their army.

By this point, Le Grande Armee had already deteriorated. Disease, a once-in-a-century heatwave, mass desertions, pestilence filled swamps, starvation, and even freak storms had obliterated much of its force. What was left was completely ragtag, with no discipline remaining and only a desperate need to survive driving them. Nearly all the horses had perished, either under the suicidal charges of Murat, or more frequently by exhaustion on the campaign trail. Despite this, many of the men remained staunchly loyal to Napoleon. After all, the only way out of this mess was to win, and the only man who could win a war against the Russian behemoth was Napoleon. The survivors of the brutal march hunkered down in Moscow, which had been burned to the ground by the Russian military, police, and civilian volunteers. There was barely any shelter left, looting was rampant as the pay rate for soldiers was paltry. Fraggingsnote  were frequent, as were fights over disputes. Some of Moscow remained in habitable condition, and tens of thousands of people stayed behind when the city was evacuated. Many found work the only way they could in the ravaged city; working as "camp followers," a historical euphemism for sex workers.

Kutuzov had withdrawn his forces to the south, having suffered such dire casualties that he believed they wouldn't survive another battle. However, the political situation was in no way in Napoleon's favor, as even the serfs had come out against him. His invasion had brought ruin to the country, and he had failed to liberate the serfs. Indeed, Le Grande Armee became notorious among the Russian peasantry for its penchant for looting, raping, murdering, lawlessness, and arson. It was a despised force. The nobility was already distrustful of the revolutionaries, whose principles of meritocracy and universal rights threatened the foundations of what was essentially their slave empire. This meant that Russia was politically united in all social strata, for it had a nearly non-existent middle classnote  that comprised the bulk of revolutionary supporters in Europe. The war would continue, despite much of the country lying in ruin. With his marshals were revolting against him and officers were deserting en masse, ultimately the only thing keeping the survivors there was their belief that Napoleon could fix this mess. Napoleon sought to retreat to Smolensk for the time, which was also a devastated ruin on account of the French mortars setting its mostly wooden architecture alight. However, Kutuzov was blocking the only tenable root to Smolensk; the only other way was back they came, and it was a barren wasteland on account of both the scorched earth policy and Le Grande Armee's rampant looting. His commanders fought a couple of engagements against Kutuzov's forces, but they were indecisive. What was more was that Comrade Winter was beginning to set in, causing an already dire supply situation to go beyond the point of desperation.

Napoleon's forces were starving, and eventually began freezing in the cold. Russian insurgents, mostly regiments of mounted Cossacks,note  waged guerrilla attacks on Napoleon's forces, costing them dearly. The winter was disastrously cold, and men were only issued a single uniform with no winter cover at the time. Skin froze to the barrels of their muskets and ripped from the flesh if they tried to pry them off. There was basically no more supply train, and rear regiments marched over a field of corpses and deeply packed ice. Stopping was suicidal; men froze to death when idle for only 10 minutes or less. Fingers and toes became frostbitten and gangrenous, causing them to rot and fall off. Many men had no boots nor shoes to speak of, as extra pairs had not been brought along and the originals had disintegrated months ago. Lucky soldiers could trade for or steal a pair, but unlucky ones had to make do with footwraps or worse, barefoot. What horses that remained could barely move faster than a trot and struggled to pull wagons overloaded with wounded. They proved incapable of pulling cannons, leading to much of the artillery to be abandoned, along with much of the artillery corps itself who either deserted or simply starved as they were no longer a priority without their horses. With the Grand Army being whittled down by the elements, people began to doubt Napoleon's capability. He had become paranoid and restless after he was nearly captured by cossacks at the Battle of Maloyaroslavets, and his marshals were now vocally disagreeing with his decisions. Mass surrender to the Russians was common, as was desertion of whole regiments. Incidents of cannibalism began to occur in the ranks, and cannibals were executed on sight by Russian forces. The force of anywhere from 413,000-613,000 had been decimated to just 49,000note , who found themselves fighting Kutuzov one last time while attempting to cross the Berezina River. The Russians had destroyed the bridges, and Napoleon had abandoned all of his pontoon equipment as it was proving too heavy a strain on the valuable remaining horses. One defiant Dutch battalion of engineers had kept theirs, and it proved to be the thing that would save Napoleon's life, albeit not many other peoples'. The Battle of the Berezina resulted in what shattered remnants of Le Grande Armee were left facing off against a Russian force nearly twice their size, while trying to build, defend, and cross a pontoon bridge. Russian artillery ravaged them, but shockingly the bridge was assembled and Napoleon, along with some of his forces, escaped. Many thousands of camp followers had tagged along with them since Moscow, having no homes or valuables and thus no reason to stay. They were mostly massacred during the battle, and the survivors were all murdered following the battle for cooperating with the French.

Napoleon and some of his men staggered back into Poland. The death toll of his Russian campaign was devastating. Almost half a million French and French-aligned soldiers were killed or captured in the campaign, and it proved to be the first decisive loss for the French. By the end of 1812, Le Grande Armee was all but destroyed, Napoleon had abandoned his position and returned to Paris to prepare for the inevitable counter-attack, and the French had completely abandoned Russian soil. However, the war was not without its losses on the Russian side: much of the country, including its most valuable farmland and two of its most important cities, was completely ruined. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians alike died, mostly from starvation, disease, and the cold. Combat losses were still quite high, but completely outnumbered by those outside of combat. Russia was in no state to counterattack anytime soon, but Napoleon's disastrous defeat brought many of his old enemies into the Sixth Coalition against him. Over the course of 1813, Sweden, Prussia, Austria, and many German principalities would switch sides, seeing an opportunity to defeat Napoleon. It would not be easy. Although the French were defeated in Spain by the Anglo-Portuguese forces, Napoleon was able to hold off the Coalition in Germany for some time.

But all things must pass, and Napoleon's successes had to end eventually. France was becoming politically isolated as they suffered defeats in Iberia and Italy, and lost many of their German allies to the Coalition. They were also running out of manpower, as the 2 decades of war were depleting France of its young men. The Coalition forces numbered over twice that of Napoleon's, and his troops were becoming less reliable and of poorer quality. He still managed to secure some fine victories in Saxony, but the end was near. On the 16th of October, 1813, Napoleon's forces clashed with that of the Coalition in Leipzig. The battle was immense and hard fought, but the French and their allies were badly outnumbered. Midway through the battle, most of the French-aligned Germans defected to the Coalition, further reducing Napoleon's chances for success. Despite his amazing generalship and tactical brilliance, Napoleon failed to win the battle, and suffered one of the most decisive defeats of his career. The Battle of Nations, as it became known, ultimately marked the end of Napoleon's offensives in Europe.

Down, but not out, Napoleon retreated to France and organized its defense. He was able to win victory after victory against the invading Coalition, but he was simply overwhelmed by the massive Coalition numbers and had no way from actually winning the war. With the situation being utterly hopeless, Napoleon abdicated the throne of France on April 6th of 1814. The Allies exiled him to the island of Elba in the Mediterranean, and began literally drawing up the maps for a post-war Europe at the Congress of Vienna.

     The Hundred Days (1815) 
The Congress was proving to be a massive failure. The French were incensed by their losses of territory, the restoration of the monarchy, and the return of the unpopular aristocratic émigré. Meanwhile, disagreements over Poland and Germany were bringing the Coalition powers on the verge of war. Napoleon watched the situation unfolding from his imprisonment on Elba, and started to formulate a plan. He could utilize popular resentment against the Congress in France to mobilize a large army, and successfully use the ambitions of the Coalition powers to shatter the Coalition entirely.

Napoleon slipped aboard a French ship and escaped back to France. News of his return signaled a popular uprising, and the French flocked to his banner by the thousands. Famously, when confronted by Royalist forces, Napoleon stepped in front of their rifles and proclaimed "If anyone wishes to shoot his Emperor, here I am!" As with many other French soldiers, they defected to his cause. Louis XVIII abandoned the capital, and Napoleon entered Paris to the cheers of a massive crowd.

Napoleon's return was poorly received by the Coalition. Napoleon had hoped that perhaps France could achieve a peaceful resolution, but he was practical enough to know that the Coalition would never allow it. He raised a force of nearly 200,000 in preparation for the Coalition invasion, which came when the Seventh Coalition declared war on him on the 13th of March, 1815.

The Coalition forces began mobilizing, but it would be months before they could be ready for a combined offensive. The British and Prussians, still hot off the heels of their invasion of France in 1814, had thousands of men ready to invade, but the Austrians and Russians needed to marshal out new armies and march westward first, which would cost the allies time. Napoleon knew that, just as in 1814, he would be overwhelmed by sheer numbers if he allowed the Coalition to form a unified army. He chose to preempt them by striking against Coalition forces in the Low Countries.

Napoleon's forces successfully kept the British and Prussian forces in Belgium split up. He planned to defeat both armies in detail, engaging and destroying each before the other could react. At the battle of Ligny, Blucher's Prussians were forced to retreat but while this was going on, Marshal Ney was hesitating to attack the outnumbered British at the battle of Quartre Bras, which proved crucial to the veteran of the Peninsular War, the Duke of Wellington, who had enough time to relocate his troops to the more defensible position at Belgian village of Waterloo. Victorious, Napoleon turned to engage the British at Waterloo. The British, outnumbered alongside their Dutch and German allies, held off successive attacks by the French forces, including extensive artillery bombardment, but took brutal casualties from close range artillery fire into infantry squares (which the British infantry had been forced into by the presence of the French cavalry). However, the supposedly withdrawing Prussians unexpectedly arrived, and serve as the hammer to the British anvil by smashing into the French flanks and driving them from the field. The Prussians had managed to rally just days before and outwitted French attempts to pursue them, allowing them to retreat in good order, regroup, and march to Wellington's aid.

Napoleon relinquished control of the Army of the North and returned to Paris, hoping to rally more troops to oppose the invading Coalition forces. However, his decisive defeat had dampened the spirits of his supporters and emboldened the royalists, and ultimately he was forced to abdicate. The victorious Anglo-Prussian forces entered Paris not long after, signalling the end of the Hundred Days, and of the Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleon surrendered to a British squadron, as he was now an outlaw and couldn't safely remain in France.

     Conclusion - The Concert of Europe 
The Congress of Vienna affirmed the Treaty of Paris, which rolled back over two decades of changes in Europe, while the Duke of Wellington led the Coalition's army of occupation, effectively. The French monarchy was restored, and old French borders of 1790 were restored, France was occupied, and was forced to pay hefty reparations to the victorious powers. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena, one of the most remote islands on Earth, where he died in 1821.

The ramifications of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the ensuing Congress of Vienna are immense. Although the borders of Europe were mostly restored to status quo antebellum, the Prussians gained control over parts of Western Germany and solidified themselves as a Great Power. Although the Holy Roman Empire had been disbanded, a new German confederation was formed to effectively restore its (fairly limited) powers to the Austrian crown. Poland was annexed by Russia (although the Poles fought a rebellion to maintain their independence, but were overwhelmed by Russian numbers). Overseas, the Spanish Empire fell apart as almost all of Latin America secured its own independence. The North American territories of France now belonged to the United States, which had doubled in size, and the slaves of Haiti had risen up to create their own nation.

However, the greatest effects of the wars are not seen in border changes, but through how it affected the political landscape of Europe. The Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars created the modern political landscape of the Western World. Napoleon, although best remembered as a military tactician, was also a shrewd politician. The Napoleonic Law Code was incredibly influential in establishing modern legal codes throughout Europe, and even in the Middle East. His conquest and reorganization of Italy and most of Germany had also inspired nationalists. These nationalist ideals would become an important part of Europe's political landscape, leading to attempted revolutions in Central Europe in the 1840s, and eventually the creation of Germany and Italy in the 1860s and 70s.

In response to Revolutionary ideals and Napoleon's policies, politicians such as Klemens von Metternich would go on to codify modern conservatism. Meanwhile, Napoleon's conquests had spread the Revolutionary ideals of liberalism across Europe. The role of the Catholic Church had been forever diminished, with it taking on the far more minimal role it occupies today. It also produced the concept of the "balance of power" in Europe, which was the belief that no one state could become too powerful on the continent, lest the Napoleonic Wars be recreated.

The wars were also the largest and deadliest of their time, with the only larger conflicts being seen in China. Millions had perished over the two decades of almost endless war. The wars were so immense that they were usually referred to as the Great War, until World War One stole that spot.

There were also numerous other conflicts that spun off of, or were precipitated by, the Napoleonic Wars. Those are listed below.

     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. The Irish Rebellion was highly bloody, the conservative estimate is 10,000 people killed but others believe it to be 30,000 to 50,000. 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.
    • In the earlier rebellions, many of the Irish nationalist leaders were Protestants under the influence of the Enlightenment while the Church being hostile to the Revolution, supported the British. After the first attempt, however, the British government had some success convincing Irish Protestants that the French-backed rebels were leading a Catholic plot to subjugate the island, which threw something of a spanner into the works. 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, although to be realized it had to wait until the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 during the first premiership of the Duke of Wellington.
  • The Spithead and Nore mutinies in the British Royal Navy (1797)
  • French interventions in Switzerland: Conflicts between conservatives and progressives in the Swiss Confederation are decided according to French interests by invading armies. Switzerland thus is transformed into the centralist Helvetic Republic in 1798 and into a more federalist protectorate under the "Mediator" Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803.
    • The interventions were largely motivated by French security and financial needs. The Egyptian expedition of 1798 for instance was financed by funds seized in Berne.
  • The War of Oranges (20 May to 9 June, 1801): France's ally Spain invades Portugal in a campaign that is regarded as a bit of a farce, 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 in those colonies where it had been abolished under Robespierre. It is destroyed by the Haitians and tropical diseases, ensuring the independence of the second republic of the Western hemisphere.
    • Even before the war ended, First Consul Bonaparte decides that the French territory in mainland North America (which goes by the name la Louisiane—that is, "Louisiana"—but extends, essentially to the entire Mississippi Basin west of the Mississippi itself, plus New Orleans") is not worth keeping in view of the imminent war against Great Britain. So he decides to sell the whole lot to the United States 1803, much to Thomas Jefferson's relief since he feared the likelihood of a New World Napoleonic War had the Emperor a stable base in the Americas, and to the disgust of his Spanish allies, who had just been forced to hand over Louisiana to France in 1800note .
  • 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 - those that weren't ransomed, were enslaved. The new US Navy and Marines attack the Barbary city-states ("the shores of Tripoli") and bring an end to the practice of paying tribute to the pirate states - though the practise of slave trading by the Barbary States was officially ended until the Royal Navy bombarded Algiers in 1820, and wasn't unofficially ended until 1830 when France conquered Algiers.
  • 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.
  • The War for Naples and Sicily (1805-1814)
    • After the Queen of Naples allowed an Anglo-Russian force to land in violation of her country's treaty with France, Napoleon declared that the Neapolitan Bourbons have forfeited their throne and sends an army to occupy the country and install his brother Joseph as new king. When Joseph becomes king of Spain in 1808, he is replaced in Naples by his brother-in-law, Marshal Murat as King Joachim I. The Bourbon king Ferdinand IV, meanwhile, escapes to Sicily and maintains himself there with British help, notably against an invasion attempt in 1810. Later Joachim's queen, Caroline Bonaparte, persuades him to join the coalition against Napoleon to save their throne. Early in 1814 a treaty is concluded in which Great Britain and Austria guarantee that Joachim and Caroline can stay as king and queen of Naples in return for switching sides.
  • Another Russo-Turkish War (1806-1812)
    • Fought mainly in what is now Romania. In the end the Russians make some slight gains, 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 (1808-1809)
    • In the end Finland becomes Russian and king Gustavus IV of Sweden is deposed in a coup. The result was a Russian army marching across the frozen Baltic Sea from Finland to northern Sweden.
  • The Dano-Swedish War (1808-1809)
    • Denmark tries to take advantage of Sweden's preoccupation with the war against Russia by launching an invasion from Norway. Denmark's bid to regain Scania fails, but so does the Swedish attempt to conquer Norway. Napoleon at first offers to support Denmark with a French-Spanish-Dutch armynote  led by Marshal Bernadotte, but then withdraws the offer, so Denmark-Norway has to fight the war alone.
    • The British blockade basically leaves Norway on its own. Norway had to cope without Danish help during the Swedish counter-invasion. The years after the Swedish campaign are remembered as the "years of need" in Norway, with people starving to death all over the country. The experience will bolster national sentiment come 1814.
  • The Spanish American Wars of Independence (1808-1829)
    • Largely a consequence of the Peninsular War, which weakened Spanish control over their American colonies. This covers much of the early careers of Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín. However, the local independence movements now had to make do without official British support (because the British were supporting the central Spanish government fight the French in Spain). That said, the Brits did like the idea of Spanish American independence (because then they could trade with those regions without Spanish interference), so they mostly turned a blind eye to private British subjects going to Spanish America to fight for the colonies' independence.
    • Before the Peninsular War, the lands of the Rio de la Plata (modern Argentina and Uruguay) also had to fight off a British invasion by themselves without help from the Spanish Crown. This was one of their main drivers towards independence.
  • 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, D.C., including the White House — and a military stalemate, as Britain was primarily preoccupied with the Peninsular War. 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 the war 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.) Most significant for Canada's First Nations, as it marked the last time they held significant political influence.
  • The War for Norway (1813-1814)
    • France's ally Denmark is invaded by an Allied army (mostly Russian, Swedish and German forces) towards the end of 1813 in order to cash in the price for Sweden's participation in the anti-Napoleonic alliance. The treaty of Kiel, ratified in January 1814, dissolves the union between Denmark and Norway. Sweden (led by Crown Prince Karl Johan, formerly Marshal Bernadotte) is compensated for the loss of Finland by being awarded Norway.
    • A new Swedish campaign in Norway follows in 1814. Norwegians use the time they still have to draft their own constitution the same spring, which the Swedes grudgingly acknowledge in autumn. This constitution becomes 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 Italian Wars of 1815
    • After Napoleon returns from Elba to France, King Joachim Murat of Naples, who has grown increasingly uneasy because King Ferdinand IV loudly demands his removal and the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna apparently are taking a disadvantageous turn, decides to throw in his lot with his brother-in-law, starting an offensive against Austrian-occupied Northern Italy. However, this comes at a most inopportune moment for Napoleon, who is trying to project a kinder, more peace-loving image, and so Joachim I is left on his own. His army is easily dispersed by the Austrians, Murat has to flee to Corsica, and Ferdinand (who now calls himself King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies) is reinstalled in Naples.
    • Later in the year Murat lands on the Neapolitan coast with a handful of supporters in a bid to regain his throne through a popular rising. He fails abysmally and ends up being shot by firing-squad.

In fiction:

  • That Hamilton Woman by Alexander Korda is a British Wartime Romance based on the real-life relationship between Admiral Nelson (Laurence Olivier) and Emma Hamilton (Vivien Leigh). It ends with the Battle of Trafalgar.
  • Hussar Ballad is a Russian romantic comedy in which a young woman dresses up as a man and fights in the army against Napoleon.
  • Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma shows its hero as an unwitting observer of the battle of Waterloo in 1815, a device that Tolstoy later copied. Stendhal was an unabashed Napoleon loyalist, who served in his army to Moscow and remained loyal during the Hundred Days. He refused to return to France until 1821, spending most of his time in Italy.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, the whole plot is kicked into motion by Napoleon's planned escape from Elba. The main hero, a sailor called Edmond Dantès, is denounced by his enemies as a conspirator to the Bonapartist plot after he innocently agrees to deliver Napoleon's letter from Elba to France, following the late captain's last wish. The book gives a vivid description of rivalry between the Royalists and Bonapartists. Napoleon is featured as The Ghost, but king Louis XVIII does make an appearance.
  • 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.
  • Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars turn up all over the place in the work of Heinrich Heine. Best known is his poem "The Grenadiers", which was set to music by Robert Schumann (using the German original) and Richard Wagner (using a French translation - he wrote this when he lived in Paris).
  • Waterloo oder Die hundert Tage ("Waterloo or The Hundred Days") by German playwright Christian Dietrich Grabbe (1801-1836). A huge unwieldy play that had to wait until 1895 for its first performance. Grabbe also left the fragment of a drama called Kosciuszko about the Polish national hero.
  • 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 1945 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: Both main characters are hussars in Napoleon's army.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The same goes for Heinrich Von Kleist's novella The Marquise of O; it was adapted into a film by French director Eric Rohmer that won the Grand Prix Spécial at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.
    • Only at the very end of The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe it becomes apparent that the story is set during the Peninsular 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.
  • Billy Budd takes place in the summer of 1797, with the Nore mutiny casting a shadow over the plot.
  • Over the last decade, there have been a great number of French graphic novels centred on Napoleon. Some stick to reality and attempt to give a colourful account of Napoleon's life... others (like Double Masque) go on a completely fictional tangent.
  • Thomas Flanagan's The Year of the French deals with events in County Mayo during the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland. It was adapted into an Irish-British-French television series in 1982 with music by The Chieftains.
  • The novella Liberty or Death by David Cook also deals with the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
  • The Historical Fiction book series Episodios Nacionales (National Episodes) by Benito Pérez Galdós, has its first ten novels set in this time period, from Trafalgar (taking place during the eponymous battle in 1805) to The Battle of the Arapiles (Spanish name for the Battle of Salamanca in 1812). The main character in these novels (save for Gerona) is Gabriel Araceli, who, like Forrest Gump, ends up meeting many historical characters and takes part in historical events (such as the aforementioned Battle of Trafalgar and the May 2nd Uprising).
  • Grandville is set in the 21st century of a world where Napoleon won, and Britain was a French vassal until claiming independence via a socialist revolution in the 1990s. Oh, and it's a World of Funny Animals where Napoleon was a lion.
  • The Young Mr Pitt, which twists Napoleonic history into a WWII allegory for the sake of wartime propaganda
  • Invasiones Inglesas is a comic focused in the British invasions of Buenos Aires and Montevideo that took place during the conflict.
  • Goya's Ghosts, a 2006 film starring Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman, tackles the Spanish campaign in the Wars. In particular, it deals heavily with the famed Spanish Romantic painter Francisco de Goya (played by Bardem) and his role in documenting Napoleonic France's brutal occupation of Spain through his art.
  • Youssef Chahine's film Adieu Bonaparte depicts Napoleon's Egyptian Expedition and portrays him as a Mighty Whitey colonialist. The film doesn't back away from showing the brutality of Napoleon's conquests (namely a massacre at the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo), and Napoleon's early megalomania.

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 de 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''. Goya's infamous Black Paintings are also believed to have been at least partly inspired by the sociopolitical chaos that followed the wars.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Ouverture, scored for a full orchestra, church bells and real cannons, written partially to commemorate the Battle of Borodino.


  • 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, with the possible exceptions of Abraham Lincoln and Jesus.
  • 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).

Tabletop 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.
  • "The Braunstein Game", a wargaming-Diplomacy mash-up created by David Wesely in the mid-1960s and set in a fictional German university town during the Napoleonic Wars, is considered one of the direct ancestors of the tabletop role-playing game, as Dave Arneson took inspiration from it for his own Blackmoor campaign which eventually became part of Dungeons & Dragons.

Video Games

  • Cossacks 2 : Napoleonic Wars and its expansion Battle for Europe.
  • Napoleon: Total War and its expansion The Peninsular Campaign.
  • Empire Earth features the Peninsular War and the battle of Waterloo as the final English campaign missions, while the second game has Napoleon as the main enemy in the Russian campaign and a few levels of the German campaign.
  • A few mods for Mount & Blade and Mount & Blade: Warband, as well as the multiplayer-only DLC Mount & Blade: Napoleonic Wars for Warband.
  • Guts & Blackpowder is a Zombie Apocalypse set in this era.

Fan Fics

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