June 18, 1815 – French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte are soundly defeated by British and Prussian troops at Waterloo in Belgium.
By 1815 Napoleon’s fortunes had well and truly waned. His sparkling victories of a decade earlier had been overshadowed by his disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812, and a coalition of European powers including the British, Germans, Belgians, Dutch and Russians was massing against him on the borders of France.
In a desperate pre-emptive strike, Napoleon marches against the British army in Belgium, commanded by the Duke of Wellington. Napoleon’s failing health contributes to him making a series of tactical blunders during the battle which allows the British to gain the upper hand and the arrival of Prussian troops late in the day seals his fate.
After suffering more than 33,000 casualties, Napoleon’s army flees the field in disarray. The battle marks the end of Napoleon’s reign, and following his defeat he is exiled to the island of Saint Helena, where he dies a few years later.
Visit the Waterloo battlefield on our Waterloo Flexi Tour.