Waterloo, Belgium

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Waterloo is a Walloon municipality located in the region of Walloon Brabant, Belgium. Waterloo was located at the crossing of the main road with a path leading to a farm (cense in Walloon). The crossing still exists: chaussée de Bruxelles with Boulevard de la Cense. Waterloo started to develop during the 17th century.

 

A royal chapel was built in 1687 in Petit-Waterloo. This chapel still exists and was extended in 1826 at the back to form today’s main church of Waterloo. In 1795, the invaded territories were divided into nine departments.

 

Some municipalities, including Waterloo, became part of the Dyle department, which became the province of Brabant Meridional in 1815 under the Dutch rule after the defeat of Napoleon. It changed name in 1830 when Belgium became independent and became the province of Brabant for 165 years.

 

Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Two large forces under Wellington and Blucher assembled close to the north-eastern border of France.

 

Napoleon chose to attack in the hope of destroying them before they could join in a coordinated invasion of France with other members of the coalition. Waterloo was the decisive engagement of the Waterloo Campaign and Napoleon’s last. According to Wellington, the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”.

 

The battlefield is located in Belgium, about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of Brussels, and about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the town of Waterloo. The site of the battlefield today is dominated by a large monument, the Lion’s Mound.

 

Napoleon knew that once his attempts at dissuading one or more of the Seventh Coalition allies from invading France had failed, his only chance of remaining in power was to attack before the coalition mobilized.

 

If he could destroy the existing coalition forces south of Brussels before they were reinforced, he might be able to drive the British back to the sea and knock the Prussians out of the war. An additional consideration was that there were many French-speaking sympathizers in Belgium and a French victory might trigger a friendly revolution there.

Waterloo-Belgium

Lion’s Mound, Monument raised on the battlefield of Waterloo where Napoleon was defeated, Belgium

 

Napoleon moved against the concentrated Prussian army first. On the 16th of June, with a part of the reserve and the right wing of the army, he attacked and defeated Blucher’s Prussians at the Battle of Ligny. The Prussian centre gave way under more heavy French assaults but the flanks held their ground.

 

Ney, meanwhile, found the crossroads of Quatre Bras lightly held by the Prince of Orange, who repelled Ney’s initial attacks but was gradually driven back by overwhelming numbers of French troops. Napoleon returned to Paris and on June 22 abdicated in favor of his son.

 

He decided to leave France before counterrevolutionary forces could rally against him, and on July 15 he surrendered to British protection at the port of Rochefort. He hoped to travel to the United States, but the British instead sent him to Saint Helena, a remote island in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa.

 

Napoleon protested but had no choice but to accept the exile. With a group of followers, he lived quietly on St. Helena for six years. In May 1821, he died, most likely of stomach cancer. He was only 51 years old. In 1840, his body was returned to Paris, and a superlative funeral was held.