Tuesday 16 January 2018

Mary Kenny: why Waterloo still fascinates

Favourite facts from the famous battle

A re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815
A re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

Waterloo, fought on the June 18, 1815, is still considered to be the most famous battle in European history: but it nearly wasn't called "Waterloo". The Prussian commander, Gebhard von Blucher, wanted to call it "The Battle of La Belle Alliance". Geographically it should have been "The Battle of Mont Saint Jean", but Wellington cannily named it "Waterloo" after a town two kilometres away from the site.

● Although the Anglo-German-Dutch Alliance defeated Napoleon at Waterloo (in "a close-run thing" in the Iron Duke's famous phrase), there are far more souvenirs of Bonaparte sold on the heritage site at Waterloo.

● Wellington was an Irishman by birth, born Arthur Wesley at Dangan, near Trim. When he attended military school at Angers in France, he was described in the school's registrar as "an Irish lad of great promise", according to the military historian Richard Holmes.

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