Battle of Waterloo

'Wellington at Waterloo', by Robert Alexander Hillingford, depicting Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, during the final confrontation against Napoleon
'Wellington at Waterloo', by Robert Alexander Hillingford, depicting Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, during the final confrontation against Napoleon

Historical Context

You may recognize 'Waterloo' as the catchy 1974 tune from the Swedish pop group ABBA, where they give you a basic rundown of one of the most significant battles in history: "My My, at Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender!"

Yes, he did. After more than a decade of dominating the European continent, the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had been defeated at Leipzig in 1813 and was later exiled to the island of Elba. This triumphant arrangement did not last long: Napoleon quickly escaped, starting what was known as the Hundred Days, where he assumed control of France once more. Hearing the news, his adversaries rushed together an army and went to confront him at the town of Waterloo in Belgium.

The coalition armies, controlled by the Duke of Wellington for the British and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher for the Prussians, crushed Napoleon in the battle. When he returned to Paris, the country had turned against him, and so he abdicated for a second and final time, decisively ending the Napoleonic era. He was later exiled to the island of St. Helena in the Atlantic, where he died (having possibly been murdered) in 1821.

Painting Info


Artist: Robert Alexander Hillingford
Location painted: Waterloo, United Kingdom of the Netherlands (now Belgium)

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1815-06-18 Battle of Waterloo; Napoleon and France defeated by British forces under Wellington and Prussian troops under Blucher

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