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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 Napoleon Bonaparte and various states in Europe in the early nineteenth century. Known before 1914 as "The Great War" before that global conflict usurped the title.

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. He moved the Imperial armies to the border of France. 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. 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.

The actual course of the war itself saw France score numerous victories in Northern Italy, largely spearheaded by Napoleon Bonaparte, who was quickly rising through the ranks with every success. The French made a few attempts to cross the Rhine and invade Germany proper, but each time they were repulsed. The French successfully invaded the Netherlands and managed to incite the Dutch into rebellion. The Dutch rebels created the Batavian Republic and fought alongside the French.note  There was an attempt by the French to invade Ireland and support a rebellion against the British, but it was foiled by foul weather.

In August of 1792, Louis XVI was arrested and deposed, and the French Republic was born. In the beginning of 1793, Louis XVI and his wife were executed. Spain and Portugal entered into the war against France. 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. Spain promptly dropped out of the war 2 years later, after the French decisively defeated them and came close to taking their capital. In 1797, Napoleon conquered Northern Italy and left the way to Vienna open, 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. 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.

In 1798, France seized both Switzerland and the Papacy, installing friendly republican regimes in both. 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.

That year, Napoleon returned from Egypt. He was aware of the dire position France was in, and had become increasingly disdainful of the Directory, a oligarchic group that effectively ran the country. 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.

Napoleon went to Northern Italy to conquer the defiant portions, while his other generals attacked once more across the Rhine, with more success. In 1800, they were able to defeat the Austrians 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. 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. Meanwhile, the war with Britain had 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 believed to be conspiring with loyalists to overthrow Napoleon. He violated the sovereignty of Baden to kidnap its 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.

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) with mixed results. 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) 
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 Andreas Barclay 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, Barclay'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 Barclay to face Napoleon in a pitched battle at Smolensk, which he lost. He was sacked and replaced by Prince Mikhail Kutuzov. 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 their army. With the Russians in retreat, Napoleon marched on into Moscow. The taking of the city proved strategically indecisive. While previously, Napoleon had won his wars by forcing his enemies to come to terms with the fall (or potential fall) of their capitals, in this case the Russians did not give in.

Napoleon marched out to meet Kutuzov's forces. However, winter was beginning to set in, causing even more strain on the dire supply situation. Napoleon's forces were starving, and eventually began freezing in the cold. Russian insurgents waged guerrilla attacks on Napoleon's forces, costing them dearly. With the Grand Army being whittled down by the elements, Napoleon started to suffer defeats. The French were forced to make the long march out of Russia, being hounded by the Russians the entire way.

The results were staggering. 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, the Grand Army 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.

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 Napoleon's defeat.

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 plans 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, alongside their Dutch and German allies, held off successive attacks by the French forces, but Napoleon was close to breaking their forces. However, the supposedly withdrawing Prussians unexpectedly arrived, 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, signaling 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. 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. 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.
  • 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 allows an Anglo-Russian force to land in violation of her country's treaty with France, Napoleon declares that the Neapolitan Bourbons have forfeiteted 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 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 (1808-1809)
    • 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 weaken Spanish control over their American colonies even though the local independence movements now have to make do without British support.
  • 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.—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.)
  • 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.

These wars contain tropes such as:

  • Abnormal Ammo: In 1809 Tyrolean insurgents used rifled air-guns for sniping (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.
    • The Spanish guerilleros had all sorts of weird projectiles, including coins that were flattened, dented and marked with a cross. General Marbot (then a captain) found himself with one lodged in his spine, inches away from his heart and equally close to severing his spinal cord, and his Mémoires contain a very vivid account of how much it hurt.
  • 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 (respectively Giuseppe, Luciano, Elisa, Paola, Carolina, Girolamo, and Napoleone), and Napoleon's happened to be the only one with no French equivalent (other than dropping the final "e").
  • A Father to His Men: Many. Napoleon himself was one, at least to his Old Guard, while the line troops often had to fend for themselves because Napoleon never succeeded in set up a supply system proportionate to the size of his army. The trope also applies to Nelson and 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.
    • Blücher was referred to as "Papa Blücher" or "Vater Blücher" by many of his men and in return would often call them his children.
  • 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..."
  • 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!
    • In the same occasion he made one on behalf of Antoine Le Picard de Phélippeaux, his archenemy and eternal superior since military academy who, being a monarchist, fought against the French Republic and directed the defence of Acre (including rebuilding the city walls so they could resist Napoleon's artillery):
      "Without him, I would have had taken the Key to the Orient, I would have marched on Constantinople, I would have rebuilt the throne of the Orient."
    • 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:
      • Somewhat subverted in that he survived the carnage and surrendered anyway. "The Guard dies, but does not surrender" was first quoted 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. That being said, "Merde!" is sometimes called "le mot de Cambronne" ("Cambronne's word") to this day.
      • 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.
    • Admiral Nelson after the Battle of the Nile, where he destroyed a French fleet and stranded Napoleon in Egypt:
      Victory is not a name strong enough for such a scene.
    • During the Second Siege of Saragossa in 1809, the French sent the demand "Peace and Surrender" to the Spanish commander, General Palafox. Palafox's reply was a blunt "War and Knife!" (usually mistranslated into English as "War to the knife").
  • 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. Though he was a committed republican, a member of Robespierre's Committee of Public Safety, and as such was disappointed when Napoleon turned Emperor and retired from political life taking only minor positions until Napoleon's defeat led to France being threatened again. He was banished from France because he voted for Louis XVI's death and went into exile in Prussia, where he settled in the city of Madgeburg and taught maths in retirement. His son Sadi Carnot in the meantime discovered the Laws of Thermodynamics and a later descendant became Prime Minister.
    • 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. Others saw Berthier as an at best mediocre general who gradually declined into a glorified clerk and executor of his Emperor's orders, with a general staff that on the whole fell behind e. g. the reformed Prussian general staff.
    • Prince Frederick, the Duke of York (a.k.a. the "Grand Old Duke of York"), the second son of George III, was a career officer who 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 coats 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 (having a mustache was actually a requirement in some hussar regiments). Also Napoleon's Old Guard, who he actually nicknamed his "Old Mustaches".
  • Balance of Power: The Congress of Vienna was the Trope Codifier and its legacy was controversial then and even now, years later. Still, it led to one of the longest periods of (relative) peace in Europe, and only in the 1850s, after the establishment of another French Empire ruled by a Bonaparte, would there be another war in which two or more of the five major powers were on opposing sides.
    • Critics argued that it unfairly favored conservative feudal rule and tried to not only restore territory but in many cases undo all the good administrative changes and reforms Napoleon had brought to Europe. Viscount Castelreagh was especially criticized for going along with Metternich's vision for counter-revolution. In general this tends to ignore that in the order established in Vienna it was in principle left to individual states and their rulers what to do and that e. g. the Act establishing the new German Federation in principle obliged all states to establish some sort of popular representation. That more was not done was in some cases due less to Austria and Prussia as to the resistance of former Napoleonic vassals like Bavaria, Saxony and Württemberg. In many cases, the changes instituted by Napoleon, his relatives etc. were kept in place (after Prussia annexed the Rhineland in 1815, the French Code Civil remained in force there until a new German civil law was enacted in 1900). The more reactionary phase of Metternich's domination only really began in 1819, and even then system established in 1815 was flexible enough to accommodate some revolutionary changes, such as the French and Belgian revolutions of 1830 and 1831 without it leading to a European war.
    • For the British, the Congress was entirely in their interests because a balance of power in Europe allowed them to maintain and expand their colonial possessions with no major power to oppose it - which in part was due to the fact that Prussia and Austria had no colonial ambitions at all and Russia's ambitions outside of Europe were confined to Asia. On the other hand, British colonial hegemony greatly benefited the American colonies that declared themselves independent from Spain and Portugal then and in the decades that followed, and France began to build a new colonial empire in Africa, starting with the conquest of Algeria ca. 1830.
    • A lot of criticism of the Vienna settlement came from the nationalist movements that had arisen during the Napoleonic Wars, e. g. over Poland being once again divided among Russia, Prussia and Austria, or the dismemberment of northern Italy (most of it had been ruled by Napoleon either as King of Italy or as Emperor of France), or the re-established French-German border. In that way Congress of Vienna still belonged to an earlier era. From this nationalist perspective many see the following decades of Metternich's dominance as leading to the rise of the Revolutions of 1848, the rise of Otto von Bismarck and sowing the seeds for World War I.
    • Talleyrand won his legend and fame for his skill in getting France off far more lightly than it should have otherwise. However, Napoleon's return stopped this, this in turn led to not only losing some of the concessions granted in 1814, but France having to pay a high war indemnity, having to give back (most of) the works of art stolen all over Europe, and being occupied for five years (the longest until World War II). Which in turn led to the second restoration becoming less liberal and accommodating to Napoleon's former supporters than the first.
  • 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 and many of them, in their hearts at least, remembered the Revolutionary ideals which Napoleon had certainly compromised and diluted within his personality.
  • Batman Gambit: A strategy frequently used by Napoleon, most famously against the Russian and Austrian armies at Austerlitz. He knew the Coalition couldn't resist the chance of attacking his weakened flank, thus weakening their hold on the heights in the center of their line.
    • Some liked and still like to see the 1812 campaign as this, with the Russians luring the Grande Armée further and further into Russia, eventually making the Russian winter a huge weapon of mass destruction. In fact the Russians wanted to fight, but their numerical inferiority was such that they had no choice but to retreat (and the Grande Armée actually sustained much greater losses on the way to Moscow due to the heat and various diseases).
  • Battlecry: The French armies chanted "Vive l'Empereur!" ("Hail the Emperor!") in time with their marching as a column of attack.
    • One specific to a particular battle (Albuera in 1811) was coined by the wounded Lt-Colonel William Inglis of the British 57th Regiment of Foot as they defended their colours: "Die hard, men, die hard!" This became the regimnent's nickname (The Diehards) and is the origin of the phrase later made famous by Die Hard.
  • Battle in the Rain: Several, most notable three in August 1813 as a bad weather front hit Germany. In all three the rain was so bad that a huge proportion of the muzzle-loading flintlock muskets malfunctioned, completely changing the dynamic of fighting:
    • The battle of Großbeeren (23 August) stopped the French advance on Berlin. In it, the Prussian Landwehr (militia) soldiers, who had only received a rather sketchy training with the bayonet, turned their muskets around and used them as clubs at close quarters.
    • The battle of the Katzbach (26 August): The French Army of the Bober was surprisingly counter-attacked by Blücher's Russo-Prussian Army of Silesia. In the course of the battle part of the French army was driven into the Wütende Neisse, a small river transformed into a raging torrent by the preceding downpours.
    • The battle of Dresden (August 26-27): Napoleon manages to defeat the main Allied army. The muddy ground severly hampers the mobility of horsemen, leading e. g. to incidents where infantry battalions of the French Young Guard successfully charged against Allied cavalry. In another incident, an Austrian infantry square was stuck in the mud surrounded by French cavalry, which called on them: "Surrender, you can't fire your muskets!" The Austrians replied: "No matter, the ground is too deep, you can't charge us." But then the French brought up a battery of artillery, which forced the Austrians to surrender.
  • 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 to 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 Brazilian 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.
    • To be specific, his plan involved de-masting old wooden ships, dragging them inland, laying them on their sides at an angle and packing them full of explosives, noxious chemicals and incendiaries. When lit, these ships would be propelled by the weight of explosives inside them and go careening across the land, leaving massive firestorms and plumes of toxic gas in their wake. It was estimated that a single ship used in this manner could render a square kilometer of terrain uninhabitable. Fortunately, saner (and less awesome) minds than Cochrane deemed the plan unusable due to the damage it would do to international relations.
  • 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.
    • Brave Scots could turn up in other armies as well, as e. g. some Scottish families had settled on the Baltic coast in the 18th century. Thus in the 1807 campaign in Eastern Prussia the Russian army had General Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly (who went on to mastermind the Russia attrtion campaign in 1812) and the Prussian Colonel Ernst Wilhelm von Hamilton.
  • 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 blockaded.note 
    • Napoleon actually had quite a bit of money himself as he tended to impose huge indemnities on the countries he defeatednote , but that did have a tendency to make the governments of these countries think it was a good idea to accept British subsidies to regain their losses in territory and population in another war.
  • Braids of Action: Commonly worn by French Hussars at the time, in the "braids at the temple"-style. It not only served to keep the Hussars hair out of his eyes, but also afforded a little bit of protection against sword cuts.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Capture the Flag: Capturing an enemy regiment's colours, the flags which represented its identity and honour, were the original inspiration for this trope: doing so was always a huge honour for the captors and a humiliation for the captured. Specialised 'colour sergeants' armed with axes were deployed specifically to protect the flag, which was usually carried by an ensign (hence the name). Under Napoleon the French used Eagles instead of, or alongside, colour flags (an eagle statue atop a staff, inspired by the Roman aquila).
  • 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.
    • In general during the era the typical soldier was between 16 and 40.
  • 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.
    • Similarly, the (British) Royal Artillery switched from blue to red uniforms part way through the Peninsular War due to the risk of friendly fire incidents.
  • 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 typify 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.
  • Dan Browned: Even to this day and in modern works, major misconceptions exist among English speakers about Napoleonic tactics due to a long-standing, complex linguistic miscommunication. Writing after the war, British generals wrote in their memoirs about defeating French columns, which holds a number of different meanings: a column, to a military writer, would not only have meant the military formation, but could also mean the unit itself. Nearly all French units marched in column formation when approaching the enemy, so "French column" became British military shorthand for an enemy unit of a particular size. Unfortunately, this meant later historians would misinterpret French military tactics to an absurd degree: reading "the French columns attacked", a historian would infer that the French attacked in column formation, which only an idiot would do intentionally. To be sure, this did in fact occur in battle on multiple occasions, but this was usually due to necessity (the column couldn't reform its formation in time), command incompetence (like at Waterloo), or because the column was ambushed, and was never the preferred method. The French emphatically did not conquer Europe by smashing human battering rams into the opposing side's lines.
  • 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."
  • 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 Hemans' infamous poem "Casabianca". Spike Milligan "updated" it:
    The boy stood on the burning deck,
    Whence all but he had fled —
    • When "free coloured person" colonel Louis Delgrès led a revolt on the French island of Guadeloupe in May 1802 against the reimposition of slavery on the orders of Consul Bonaparte, he ultimately had no chance against the 4000 seasoned troops Bonaparte had sent over from France. When he and his 300 last supporters were trapped in their last retreat at Matouba, they blew themselves up following the Revolutionary tenet of Vivre libre ou mourir ("Live free or die"). Delgrès' body was never found, but he is honoured by a commemorative plaque in the Panthéon in Paris.
    • 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.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Napoleon often invoked this, in imitation of Julius Caesar. He often gave what he claimed were generous terms to people he defeated, forgave several slights and attempted treachery by Talleyrand or Fouché. Years later, on Saint Helena, he reflected on how his enemies spat on his friendship and mercy and accused him of sole responsibility for the wars and he was finally treated as a criminal belligerent rather than a sovereign:
    Napoleon:"I may have been called 'a modern Attila' and 'a Robespierre on horseback' by the other sovereigns; but if they would search their hearts, they would know better. Had I really been that, I would perhaps be reigning still. But one thing is certain: had I been such, they all would long since have ceased to reign."
  • 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 distanced 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 300 km with his troops, using his musket 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. Many survivors of the retreat had to live through similar hardships, but Lefebvre was pushing sixty and suffered from gout and badly-treated wounds.
  • 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 (possibly Generals Dupont and Fournier) 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 George 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 emperor of Austria when it became forseeable that Napoleon could force him to abdicate as Franz II of the Holy Roman Empire.
    • 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.
  • 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 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.
    • When the French army occupied Hanover in 1803, a large part of the Hanoverian army left for England, where they formed the King's German Legion, which became some of the best troops in the British army. After Waterloo they were repatriated and largely integrated into the new Hanoverian army.
  • 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 badass.
  • 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 !"
  • Four-Star Badass: 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.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Napoleon. He went from being the son of a Corsican minor nobleman 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.")
  • Frontline General: Too many to count, especially among those who had risen from the ranks. In general (no pun intended), high-ranking officers were frequently found at the head of their troops in order to encourage them, while at the same time having to direct the battle on a larger scale. (Some were better at this than others: for instance, Napoleon once complained, speaking of Marshal Ney, that "he tended to forget the troops which were not under his eyes").
  • 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.
    • Naturally, memoir writers often described their rivals as this. For instance, Thiébault, speaking of Marshal Marmont, said that he was brilliant when it came to talking about war, but everything he attempted was an absolute disaster in practice.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Much of Europe hates Napoleon. The Poles? They mostly vary between hero worship and "we love him, but...".
  • Give a Man a Fish...: It is often said that Napoleon's marshals were, by and large, talented military officers in their own right, but being around Napoleon, an unmatched master of warfare, caused a number of them to forget how to be generals (i.e. fighting a battle of your own design) as opposed to being simply tools of Napoleon's master plans. Over time, this caused Napoleon's marshals to become overly dependent on him for tactical and strategic guidance, and often floundered when Napoleon was not around (particularly ones who had been around Napoleon since the beginning, such as Soult and Ney). This got to the point where even the Allies noticed, and made it their strategy to engage Napoleon's marshals and avoid Napoleon himself wherever possible.
    • Actually Napoleon expected his subordinates to follow his orders unquestioningly positively discouraged them from thinking for themselves, even if e. g. those fighting in the Peninsular War were left to fend for themselves after 1808 and thus should have kept their edge even under this theory (Soult is in fact considered one of Wellington's most competent opponents). Also, the Trachenberg plan described above (which made sense as long as one assumed that the marshals were not quite as good as tactitians and as inspiring to their soldiers as "peerless" Napoleon) was only really duringt the two months leading up to the battle of Leipzig, and even during that time the Allied high command deviated from it in the battle of Dresden.
  • Going Native: Prince Louis Bonaparte was made King of Holland by his Big Brother Bully who saw him as a family embarassment. He comes to Holland and unlike French prefects in most other nations, he makes an effort to learn the language, even joking about his poor accent, he also changes his name to Lodewijk Bonaparte and has all official conversation and notes written in Holland and has his staff renounce French citizenship. Napoleon is pretty baffled by this. The Dutch love their new king and King Lodewijk personally intervenes during a major flood and gunpowder disaster and refuses to have Holland's economy feed Napoleon's wars. Napoleon later manipulated his own brother out of the throne in Holland and annexed Holland outright to France, years later, Lodewijk returned to Holland and the people on finding out who he was greeted him in delight.
    • Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte never learned to speak Swedish, but from the moment he was elected as Crown Prince by the Swedes, he took Swedish interests to heart (even if it meant allying with Russia, declaring war on Napoleon and entering his former homeland as a foreign prince) and is overall remembered fondly by his country of adoption.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?).
    • Marshal Marmont, during the 1814 campaign, fought on the frontlines with his right arm in a sling note  and two fingers of his left hand missing since the Battle of Leipzig.
  • 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).
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Napoleon can be said to have been this on a number of occasions, but it was especially noticeable during the final stages of the wars, when his utter inability to make a lasting peace came to the fore. In 1813 he took an All or Nothing approach to negotiations, refusing to make any territorial concessions at all, which not only made peace with Russia and Prussia impossible unless he defeated them, but which also led to Austria joining the alliance against him. Still, even after the battle of Leipzig at least Austrians and Russians seriously considered making a peace with the French border reaching the left bank of the Rhine and Napeoleon on his throne, but Napoleon's stance forced them to cross the Rhine and invade France proper. During the 1814 campaign in France Metternich did not want France become weakened too much in order to create a European balance of power after the war, and thus saw to it that the Austrian army dragged its feet. However, Napoleon's intransigence and surprising military successes (which were in part made possible by the slowing down of Allied operations) finally forced the Allies to unite once more and conclude that peace was only possible if they took Paris and saw to it that Napoleon was replaced by the Bourbons - only then could they start settling the differences they had amongst themselves. One of the reasons for Napoleon's self-defeating inflexibility was that he feared that he concluded peace at the cost of any or too many territorial concessions the French would eventually depose him.
  • The Homeward Journey: In May 1808, the Spanish division commanded by the Marquès de la Romana was stationed in Denmark to help defend that country against British attacks. Despite French attempts to keep them in the dark about what had happened, they learned of Napoleon's attack on his ally Spain, managed to contact the British blockading fleet and to organize sea transport to return home to rejoin the other Spanish forces on the Iberian peninsula.
  • 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, (also qualified as a Juggernaut) was it finally brought down.
  • Kangaroo Court: Marshal's Ney trial was somewhat rushed under the influence of Ultra-royalists who wanted to punish him for his part in Napoleon's return to the throne. Ney probably was in a no-win situation anyway - he refused to be court-martialed on the ground of his (Royalist) title of a Peer of France because he feared that his fellow marshals would condemn him out of old personal animosities. He thus was tried before the Chamber of Peers, which had a huge royalist majority. Of course, this led to a backlash in large parts of the public and the Bonapartists made Ney a martyr-like figure. Not that it stopped them or Napoleon for making Ney one of the prime scapegoats for the defeat in the Waterloo campaign.
    • Arguably things were actually worse during Napoleon's reign. For instane, in 1804 - the year of the judicial murder of the Duke of Enghien - he had General Jean-Victor Moreau court-martialed as an "accomplice" in the (alleged?) Cadoudal-Pichegru plot and for wanting to set himself up as dictator of France. (Moreau actually had been offered the job of becoming dictator in 1799 by the people who then turned to General Bonaparte after Moreau refused). However, when the military tribunal acquitted Moreau, Napoleon had his trusted enforcer General Savary (who had already overseen the trial of the Duke of Enghien) lean on the judges until they changed their verdict to two years imprisonment, which Napoleon in a show of "leniency" then converted into a sentence of exile from France.
  • Kick the Dog: In 1802 the Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture was captured by trickery during the French expedition force to subdue the colony. Napoleon had him sent as a prisoner to Fort Joux in the French Jura mountains. When Toussaint Louverture complained about the conditions of his cell in the icy cold winter and the consequent deterioration of his health, Napoleon responded by — halving the amount of firewood set aside to heat his quarters. Unsurprisingly, Toussaint Louverture died on April 7, 1803.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Polish patriots encouraged the reluctant Maria Walewska to become Napoleon's mistress.
  • 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 skeleton was 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.
  • 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.
    • After almost being killed in a Royalist assassination attempt using a cart-load of gunpowder, Napoleon first used this as a pretext to persecute his left-wing (Neo-Jacobin) opposition. However, since Royalist conspiracies continued, he turned his attention to them and sent a cavalry troop to neutral Baden to capture a prominent Bourbon prince, the Duke of Enghien, who was then summarily tried and shot in the moat of Vincennes castle on 21 March, 1804, as a warning to Royalists in general. Unfortunately it became immediately apparent that the Duke was innocent of involvement in any conspiracy against Napoleon's life, which meant the show trial and execution sent a different message than the intended one to the governments and public of Europe. Which caused either Talleyrand or Fouché to comment that the execution was "worse than a crime, a mistake."
    • In 1806, Napoleon in the course of his war against Prussia invaded and occupied the neutral country of Hesse-Kassel, deposed its ruler and then gave it - along with some other territories to his brother Jerôme as the spanking-new Kingdom of Westphalia in 1807 to show that who wasn't for Napoleon was liable to be treated as an enemy.
    • Also in 1806, Napoleon had the publisher Johann Philipp Palm of Nuremberg shot by firing squad for publishing a pamphlet entitled "Germany in Its Deep Humiliation" (and refusing to divulge the name of its author) to show what people who believed in freedom of expression and the press could expect from him.
  • 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.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Napoleon tried to invoke this after the Spanish victory at Bailén (Baylen), which for a time forced the French command in Spain to retreat over the Ebro. Napoleon then decided to go to Spain personally, and the resulting blitzkrieg turned the Spanish Army that had humiliated the Empire at Bailén into the Spanish Army that ran away after being scared by their own gunfire at Talavera. However, from the Spanish point of view Bailén as one of their finest hours since it was one of the few occasions where a Spanish army defeated a French one without Anglo-Portuguese support and as it also led to the lifting of the first siege of Zaragoza.
  • Mighty Whitey: Napoleon in Egypt:
    • On his arrival in Egypt, he stated that he would promote a cultural exchange with Egyptians and urged French soldiers to respect local customs. He also had the Quran translated into French and promoted a French-Arabic dictionary to translate his bulletins to the local readers. The locals however found the translations from French into Arabic hilariously bad, and poorly researched. They also resented the French occupation especially since Napoleon subjected them to pay large indemnities and the French Army started living off the land.
    • Napoleon for his part started dressing in Egyptian clothing, promoted Revolutionary festivals where he put his name beside the Prophet. His facade of respecting local traditions did not stop him from ordering a brutal artillery attack on the Al-Azhar mosque to suppress a revolt against his occupation.
    • Napoleon's invasion of Egypt did much to invent the Adventure Archaeologist trope as pointed out by Edward W. Said in his Orientalism — in that the expedition promoted the preservation, translation and understanding of an Ancient Culture but did so by under the assumption that they were bringing progress and civilizing the Egyptians while sweetening or denying their exploitation. The French expedition of Egypt incidentally was a failure, they even lost the Rosetta Stone to the English and Napoleon ended up abandoning Egypt and returned to France on hearing news of the instability of the Directory government, leaving a good portion of his soldiers behind to face the English, the Ottomans and the locals. But once he became First Consul, he promoted it as a propaganda victory and an attempt to bring the Englightenment to the locals.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: But only Russians. Invaders freeze to death.
  • 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.
  • Moving the Goalposts: The outcome of many battles being contentious, and since a tactical defeat can still be an operational or strategic victory, there is a lot of debate among historians on how to assess the outcome of various battles, which can lead to them applying different criteria for different battles in order to declare "their" side victorious. By creatively doing this for instance a French historian entitled his 2013 book about the Battle of Leipzig (1813) "Napoleon's first defeat", in effect declaring that Napoleon's previous defeats at the siege of Acre (1799) and in the battle of Aspernnote  (1809) did not count. Admirers of Napoleon also like to list the battle of La Rothière or Brienne (1 February 1814) among his victories, either because the French inflicted higher losses on the Allies or because the Allies, while left in possession of the battlefield, afterwards did not prevent the French from retreating to Troyes. If one applied the same criteria to some of Napoleon's victories — especially Borodino, Lützen (Großgörschen), Bautzen and Ligny — one would have even more cause to consider them defeats.
  • 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. Then, it was the most prominent Bonapartists' turn after the Bourbons came back.
  • 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.
  • Obnoxious 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.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The Napoleonic Wars permanently changed Europe. Feudalism across Napoleon's conquered regions was done away with and the administrative principles of meritocracy and efficiency spread across these regions. The French Army's conscription and professionalism forced their opponents to innovate on similar lines and change in reaction. The Congress of Vienna's "Balance of Powers" tried to contain some of these changes but while they had short-term success, they couldn't stop it for long.
    • The innovations instituted by the French and in reaction to their successes often had a negative reverse side. For instance, the greater efficiency of Napoleonic administration was among other things was imitated because of the greater efficiency in policing the population and muzzling the media by a super-efficient system of government censorship. Feudalism did not entirely disappear, e. g. in the Kingdom of Westphalia, which Napoleon instituted for his youngest brother, feudal dues were cemented in the legal fiction that they were connected to the piece of land, not the farmer working on it, so that Napoleon could reward officers by giving them lucrative fiefs in Westphalia. Another legacy of the Napoleonic Wars was the rise of intense nationalism all over Europe, which sowed the seeds for many national conflicts in the 19th and 20th century but also enabled the eventual appearance and spread of nation-state democracy.
  • Occupiers out of Our Country: A big factor in a number of popular risings, guerilla wars etc. during this period, notably in Ireland, Haiti, partitioned Poland, Tyrol, Spain and Russia. Also the rationale for many volunteers to foreign armies such as in the ranks of the Polish and Irish Legions of the French army, the King's German Legion and the Free Corps of the Duke of Brunswick in British pay, and the Russo-German Legion.
  • 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 for his soul.
  • 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.
  • Praetorian Guard: the original duty of the Napoleonic Guard. Also the British Guards regiments.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Quite a few. For Napoleon himself that would be Eylau in 1807 (unless you consider that a draw), Borodino in 1812, Lützen (Großgörschen) and Bautzen in the spring of 1813 (afterwards Napoleon was glad to negotiate an armistice), and Craonne in 1814. The Crossing of the Berezina can also be seen as one, as the remnants of the Grande Armée managed to evade being caught between the three armies of General Kutuzov, General Wittgenstein and Admiral Chichagov, which Napoleon and historians friendly to him count as a (strategic) victory. On the tactical level, with regards to the numbers of French combattants and stragglers that were lost and the Russians being left in possession of the field, it was a French defeat.
  • Realpolitik: The guiding philosophy behind Britain's bombing of Copenhagen. They simply could not allow their naval superiority over France to be threatened, so they beat up the Danes hard enough so that they gave their fleet to the British instead because Napoleon was eyeing it to supplement the navy Nelson had crushed at Trafalgar.
  • 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.
      • Napoleon eventually did get rid of Bernadotte, by having him installed as the crown prince of Sweden, to succeed its childless king. It became an example of a major Reassignment Backfire as Bernadotte, as the Swedish leader, not only turned against Napoleon but held together the Sixth Coalition that formed against France in the aftermath of the failed invasion of Russia.
  • La Résistance: Spanish guerillas and Russian partisans. Also Tyroleans (1809) and sometimes Vendéans.
  • Red Baron: Napoleon Bonaparte, also called the God of War or the Corsican Ogre, depending on your sympathies.
    • Duke Frederick William of Brunswick, better known as the Black Duke because of the black uniform he wore since leading his free corps into the field against Napoleon in 1809.
    • Spanish guerilla leader Juan Martín Díez, better known as El Empecinado ("the Undaunted"). He even got the privilege that he and his descendants could use "Empecinado" as an official part of their name.
    • Louis-Nicolas Davout, the "Iron Marshal".
    • With the Revolution's many references to Classical times, it is no surprise that many French officers were compared to mythical heroes; Jean Lannes, for instances, was known as the Ajax or the Achilles of the French army.
  • 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.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Frederick William III of Prussia. His reluctance to go to war was e. g. an important reason to refuse to intervene in the War of the Third Coalition before the battle of Austerlitz (at a time when Prussia's intervention would probably have made the difference between victory and defeat for Napoleon) or in the 1809 campaign. After the Napoleonic Wars this tendency increased almost to Technical Pacifist territory. In the 1820s he refused to intervene in Northern Italy and brokered the Russo-Turkish peace of 1829, and in 1830 and 1831 he prevented the interventions Russia and Austria called for against the revolutions in France and Belgium.
  • 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.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Spanish partisans and Irish rebels.
  • 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 the battle of Austerlitz, 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.'
    • Blücher had a talent for extemporizing speeches too. One example is of him rousing his army when it had to march east after the Battle of Großgörschen or Lützen: "Morning chilren! This time it went well. The French saw whom they're up against. The king thanks you. But we're out of powder and will have to go back behind the Elbe... But who now says that we're retreating is a scoundrel and a bad'un. Good morning, children!"
      • He also did a lot to rouse his army after the defeat at Ligny in 1815, enabling it to intervene victoriously at Waterloo. During the march on 18 June he repeatedly exhorted his soldiers: "I promised my brother Wellington to help him - you don't want me to break my word, do you?"
    • Frederick William III got in on the action too, with his 'An Mein Volk' speech.
  • 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. However, he mounted the first steps of his career as a child of privilege as he owed his education to a special fund set aside by the royal French crown to support the families of Corsican aristocratic families who, like the Buonapartes, could not afford to give their children a proper education. The aim was to better integrate Corsicans into the nobility of France. And at later points his rise was facilitated by personal connections, such as to Robespierre's younger brother and to Paul Barras, de facto head of the Directorate.
    • 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.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: One reason why Napoleon had a lot of appeal among romantics and later historians, is that Napoleon was born in an out-of-the-way Island cut off from any opportunities for advancement and ended up dying in an out-of-the-way Island cut from any opportunities for advancement. His middle life had a spectacular rise and epic fall which defined the 19th Century and formed a part of his legend, which Napoleon needless to say was highly conscious of:
    "After me, the Revolution — or, rather the ideas which formed it — will resume their course. It will be like a book from which the marker is removed, and one starts to read again at the page where one left off."
    Napoleon Bonaparte, After his Defeat at Leipzig in 1813.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Between Napoleon and pretty much all of his siblings, to varying degree :
    • Lucien, Napoleon's junior by 6 years, is the best example. Lucien (then President of the Conseil des Cinq-Cents) played a key role during the coup d'état of Brumaire. Napoleon named him Minister of the Interior. He made the mistake of being right too early, suggesting making Napoleon an Emperor as early as 1802, frightening Republicans, which brought Napoleon's wrath on him. Lucien resigned and cut off all links with his brother for 13 years. They reconciled during the Cent-Jours but Lucien was never an heir to the throne.
    • Louis (Napoleon's junior by 9 years) when he was made King of Holland by his brother, who expected Louis to be a mere figure-head, actually tried to rule it as an independent country. Napoleon finally had enough and annexed Holland to France. The two brothers never reconciled, even though Louis was probably Napoleon's favorite brother initially.
    • Caroline, married to Napoleon's friend Murat and therefore queen of Naples pushed her husband towards betraying her brother in 1814.
    • Almost all the other siblings tried to assert themselves one way or another, without much success but never without tension. The only real exception was Pauline, Napoleon's favorite sibling (and probably the only Bonaparte with the completely likable personnality).
  • 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.
  • Small Reference Pools: Fiction and non-fiction treatments of the Napoleonic Wars tend to cluster on a few battles and theatres of operation; aside from the usual tendency of writers to be interested in their own country's actions and sufferings there is also that to focus on the campaigns involving Napoleon or Nelson to the exclusion of others. Thus the campaigns in the Germany theatre of operations 1793-1800 - the main theatre of the Wars of the First and Second Coalition - are all but forgotten even in France, and you probably can easily find a dozens of scholarly studies and fictional depictions for Marengo, Austerlitz or Waterloo for every single one of Zurich, Hohenlinden or the Trebbia.
  • Snow Means Death: The Retreat from Moscow.
    • Also the horrific battle of Eylau, 8 February, 1807.
  • Spinoff: The War of 1812
    • And a few others, see above.
  • 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.
  • The Strategist: Napoleon was one of the all-time great strategists.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Both Napoleon and Wellington loved to invoke this trope to explain their reverses.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Several documented instances, 22 alone for the Prussian army. Examples:
    • Eleonore Prohaska (1785-1813), who served as private August Renz in the Lützow Free Corps and only revealed her real identity when she was mortally wounded in the battle of the Goehrde (1813).
    • Louise Grafemus (1786-1852, born Esther Manuel), a converted Jewish mother of two served as a Landwehr (militia) uhlan during the Wars of Liberation, searching for her husband who, as it turned out, was serving in a Russian unit and was killed before the war ended. Grafemus lost her right hand, was promoted to Wachtmeister (sergeant-major) and was decorated with an Iron Cross.
    • Friederike Krüger (1789-1848) alias August Lübeck served in the Kolberg Infantry Regiment from 1813 to 1815, rose to Unteroffizier (sergeant), and was awarded an Iron Cross and a (Russian) Cross of St. George after being wounded and discovered to be a woman at the battle of Dennewitz in 1813. After the 1815 campaign she retired from the military, married another Unteroffizier, and had four children.
    • Maria Werder, the wife of a landed gentleman, served as a hussar to be with her husband in the campaigns of 1806/7 and 1813. She was promoted to Wachtmeister in the 2nd Silesian Hussars and and revealed her real identity only when she left the army after her husband was killed in the battle of Leipzig.
    • Thérèse Figueur, the original Madame Sans-Gêne before Victorien Sardou reused this nickname for Catherine Lefebvre, served from 1792 to 1815 as a cavalry trooper and was wounded and captured a few times.
    • Nadezhda Durova (1783-1866), the Cavalry Maiden, first served in 1806 as "Aleksandr Sokolov", and as a lieutenant in the Mariupol Hussars became the first Russian female officer. She wrote memoirs of a quality that impressed Aleksandr Pushkin.
    • During the French Revolution farmer's daughter Renée Bordereau (1770-1824) lost several relatives to the Terror and and saw her father killed before her eyes. Dressed as a man (not that hard, apparently, as she was described as very ugly) she fought in the wars in the Vendée on the royalist side under the nom-de-guerre Langevin (i. e. "the Angevin" or "man from Anjou") and was wounded several times. Since the forces of the Republic and Empire kept looking for a man, she managed to evade capture after the Vendéans' defeat until 1809. At one point she was accused of raping a girl, but was able to prove her innocence by revealing her gender, but not her real name. Imprisoned on the Mont-Saint-Michel, she was liberated after Napoleon's abdication, following which she dictaded her memoirs before taking to the field once more in the war of 1815.
    • After the Battle of Trafalgar a naked woman was found floating in the wreckage by sailors of HMS Pickle. They chivalrously gave her some clothes and listened to her story. She was sailing with her husband in disguise aboard the French ship Achille. When her ship caught on fire she removed her clothes and jumped overboard. She swam toward some shipwrecked clinging to a spar. When they kicked her off she floated in the water until she was picked up by the British.
    • In a distinct subversion, 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.
  • 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. Although it's not completely unjustified. He was sick, mentally ay his lowest, heavily outnumbered and still nearly won.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The Napoleonic Wars did introduce a host of reforms in the conquered European states, introduced administrative efficiency, secularization, emancipation of Jews and meritocracy, remnants of Napoleon's youthful Revolutionary enthusiasm. What they also did was force "new republics" and states to pay high exorbitant indemnities to France, making them colonies in all but name, with many cultural treasures stolen and taken to the Louvre as propaganda coup of Napoleonic victory.
    • Indeed, historians note that the Napoleonic Wars was the fall-out of the disastrous Haitian expedition. Haiti was France's wealthiest and most prosperous colony and a successful slave revolt led by Toussaint L'Ouverture ended that. Towards the late 1800s, Napoleon wanted to recover Haiti, reinstall slavery by sending emancipated labourers back to plantations and sent Charles Leclerc, his brother-in-law, to capture L'Ouverture and bring him to France in chains. Leclerc succeeded in that, but the expedition was a disaster with 50,000 dead(more than the Reign of Terror) and France lost Haiti for ever. After that Napoleon cut his losses, sold Louisiana to America in the New World and turned his attention to Europe.
    • In 1815 it was very noticeable that the army was much more keen on Napoleon becoming Emperor again than the general population, and the younger officers more than the older ones. Part of the reason was that the older officers had already become rich and famous during the preceding wars, while many of the younger ones still were hungry for promotions, glory and riches. And the discontent of the army was partly due to the fact that because of its reduction to a peacetime footing - aggravated by the return of Royalist officers and prisoners of war to France - many Napoleonic officers found themselves without employment. And since even paying half-wages (demi-solde) to the inactive officers caused a huge dent in France's national budget, it would have been very difficult to maintain his support within the army while actually fulfilling the peaceful policy he proclaimed during the Hundred Days.
  • 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: France already was the most populous nation in Europe and the mass Conscription (levée en masse) introduced during the War of the First Coalition enabled its army, despite at time huge numbers of deserters, to take on several major military powers at once. In the process of the wars France grew considerably by annexing Belgium, parts of Germany and Italy, and Holland etc., which increased the numerical superiority of its army. The other nations eventually followed suit, which first became noticeable in the war of 1809 when Austria, despite having lost a considerable part of its territory, to pretty much single-handedly fight the French and their Allies for a few months. Napoleon eventually used up his reserves, but despite the loss of his army in Russia and the continuing losses to "the Spanish ulcer", he was able to put an army into the field that in the spring of 1813 outnumbered the combined Russian and Prussian armies. However he increasingly had to "mortgage his future" by calling up recruits ahead of time - 16-year-olds in 1814 - and so after The Battle of the Nations at Leipzig his reserves were used up. This also explains the quick end to the 1815 campaign, where the war was decided after Napoleon lost one major battle before the majority of the Allied armies (about a third of the Prussian field army, the entire Austrian and Russian armies plus the armies of several smaller German and European nations) even got into action. It speaks volumes that military historians still debate how decisive the effect was of Napoleon having to detach a mere three divisions to quell the 1815 rising in the Vendée.
  • 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 Francisco de 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.
  • What Could Have Been: The very first novel-length alternate history was set in a world in which Napoleon won, and has frequently been used in similar works ever since. It could well have been a better world, with no German nationalism and therefore no World Wars.
  • 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 and Austria gradually displayed such an attitude towards Russia, Prussia and Sweden in 1814, wanting to establish a balance of power in Europe. At the Congress of Vienna Talleyrand was able to exploit this and at one point the conflict over the fate of Saxony escalated to such an extent that a war between Austria, Britain and France against Russia and Prussia seemed possible in early 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:

  • 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 on 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
    • 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.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Fan Fics

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