The Last Stand: Napoleon’s 100 Days in 100 Objects
http://www.100days.eu (website to go live 23rd Feb)
Everybody has heard of the Battle of Waterloo but few people know that Napoleon had already been defeated and exiled one year earlier; and that, in a dramatic turn of events in February 1815, he escaped from Elba, raised an army, marched on Paris and toppled Louis XVIII, all without firing a shot. The Allies’ insistence on branding him an outlaw then forced France on the path to war and to defeat at Waterloo in June.
Relive the drama of Napoleon's return day by day
An online exhibition launching 23 February 2015 will trace the reestablishment of Napoleon’s empire to its downfall. ‘The Last Stand’ will release one object for each day of the period known as the ‘100 Days’.
The exhibits have commentaries from an international array of Napoleonic scholars and are curated by a team at the University of Warwick. One of the curators, Dr Kate Astbury, said: “We have tried to present a pan-European picture of the events leading to Waterloo. By moving beyond the largely military terms of the usual discussion of 1815, this exhibition draws attention to wider popular hopes and fears, and to people’s practical experiences during this dramatic period of renewed instability and conflict.”
A preview of some of the objects:
26 February 1815: a watch given to Vincenzo Vantini by Napoleon hours before his departure as a reward for service during the Emperor's brief reign on Elba. ©Fondation Napoléon
10 March 1815 Kitty Wellington’s bag. The British and Royalists began to leave Paris hurriedly as Napoleon advanced towards the city. As wife of the British Ambassador, Kitty had stayed in Paris when her husband had left for the Congress of Vienna but news of Napoleon's return forced her to set off from Paris for Britain during the evening of 10 March 1815. ©National Trust. Apsley House.
19/20th March A German print showing the change of regime in March 1815 as Louis XVIII is forced to flee Paris. The original cartoon is held at the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, Leipzig. Many thanks to Christoph Kaufmann for the reproduction of the image and the rights to use it.
1 June 1815 A ticket to the assembly of the ‘Champ de Mai’, at which Napoleon confirmed his additions to the French constitution, showing how he returned to the idea of republican political participation. Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust). Photo: Imaging Services Bodleian Library. © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor
18 June 1815 A French soldier’s tricolore cockade taken from the battlefield at Waterloo (Bodleian, Rose collection).
Other items in the exhibition include:
*Napoleon's abdication letter 22 June 1815
*German, Dutch and Italian satirical prints demonising Napoleon as a tyrant
*Various letters, whether between civilian women or government officials, which show the confusion caused by the slow and piecemeal circulation of news around Europe in this period.
*the guest list at Lady Richmond's ball 15 June 1815, just days before the battle at Waterloo.
*Responses to Napoleon's return from across the globe, including Russia, Spain, the Caribbean, Poland, Italy, Wales, the Netherlands, America.
*English folk ballads, which reveal that Napoleon remained a popular and heroic figure despite being the vanquished enemy.