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Among the most famous Napoleonic War sites, Waterloo Battlefield was the location of Napoleon’s famous defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.
Waterloo Battlefield, near Brussels in Belgium, was the site of the final battle of the Napoleonic Wars. The Battle of Waterloo saw the French forces led by Napoleon Bonaparte clash with the coalition of British, Belgian, Dutch and German soldiers led by the Duke of Wellington and Prussian forces under the command of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.
Napoleon's strategy had aimed to capture Brussels and separate and divide the armies of Wellington and Blücher with the aim of prompting each to retreat. However, despite defeating the Prussians on 16th June at the Battle of Ligny, he was unable to force them to retreat entirely, meaning they were still free to support Wellington's force. Needing a decisive victory to prevent an invasion of France, Napoleon decided to attack. The two sides met at Waterloo Battlefield on the morning of 18 June 1815.
The battle lasted eight hours and ended in the dramatic defeat of Napoleon. The Battle of Waterloo was extremely close-run and much of it was a result of both timing and the communication. In fact, Wellington himself decried that it was "the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life".
For France the result of the Battle of Waterloo would mean the second restoration of King Louis XVIII and the end of over two decades of war. For Napoleon, it meant the end of his rule and his career.
Today, Waterloo Battlefield is a popular tourist site and includes numerous monuments, the most famous of which is the Lion Mound. There are many things to see at Waterloo Battlefield and many resources such as audio guides, battlefield tours, films and even summertime recreations. Guided tours are available for added fees and range from one to three hours in length (check the official website for tour times).
HMS Victory was Vice Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar and the site where this heroic figure died.
HMS Victory is one of the world’s oldest and most famous warships. No other surviving ship has served in the American Revolution, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, it was her role as the flagship of British hero Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson during his final battle of the Napoleonic Wars for which HMS Victory is most renowned.
Launched in 1765 and commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1778, HMS Victory was a first rate ship of the line. Her first main role was during the American Revolution under Admiral Keppel.
In 1793, HMS Victory formed part of the fleet during the French Revolutionary Wars and under Lord Hood. HMS Victory was also the warship under the remit of Admiral Sir John Jervis in his victory against a Spanish fleet at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent in 1797. However, it was her role in the Napoleon Wars which would define HMS Victory.
Battle of Trafalgar
On 21 October 1805, HMS Victory served under the flag of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar. This naval battle saw Nelson lead the British to victory against the French and Spanish, despite the fact that the British fleet of 27 ships was greatly outnumbered. This decisive victory confirmed the supremacy of the British navy and instilled Nelson as a national hero.
However, this success came at a great cost as Nelson was shot and mortally wounded at the Battle, living just long enough to learn that he had been successful.
HMS Victory Today
Today, HMS Victory is located at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where this well-preserved warship is now serves as a museum. Guided tours are available. HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose are also housed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
One of the most famous Napoleonic War sites, Austerlitz Battlefield in the Czech Republic was the location of one of Emperor Napoleon’s most stunning victories.
Austerlitz Battlefield was the site of the Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, which took place on 2 December 1805 and saw Napoleon Bonaparte’s army decisively defeat the combined forces of the Russian and Austrian empires.
As a resut of the Battle of Austerlitz, the Third Coalition against the French Empire, an alliance between, amongst others, Great Britain, Austria and Russia was disbanded. Austria was forced to sign the Treaty of Pressburg and Russia to retreat to its own territory.
Austerlitz Battlefield itself is today dominated by the Cairn of Peace (located on the map), a monument commemorating the war. Visitors to Austerlitz Battlefield can view the area and gain an understanding of the landscape occupied by the opposing armies on the day of the battle.
The best views can be seen from the numerous surrounding hills which defined the Austerlitz Battlefield including Zuran, from where Napoleon commanded his tactical success, the Pratzen Heights and Santon. Numerous plaques and information boards showing the military campaign are located in the surrounding area.
The Cairn of Peace has an adjoining chapel and a museum, allowing visitors to the Austerlitz Battlefield to view multimedia displays and exhibits about the battle, including the background and the aftermath. Exhibits are available in English, Czech, German, French and Russian.
Once a year, thousands of history enthusiasts descend on Austerlitz Battlefield to re-enact the conflict.
Albuera Battlefield was the site of one of the battles of the Peninsula War in 1811.
Albuera Battlefield in Spain was the site of a clash between France’s Army of the South or ‘Armée du Midi’ led by Marshal Soult and British, Spanish and Portuguese forces on 16 May 1811 in the Peninsula War.
The Battle of Albuera almost resulted in defeat for the allied armies, but ended largely inconclusively with terrible losses on both sides. Albuera Battlefield is now an open space with few obvious signs of its history, but there is a memorial to the battle in the town of Albuera.
Braco Fort - A Roman Fort - fantastic 6 foot high ditches can still be seen although there is now no remaining wooden or stone at all. But this is one of my favourite Roman sites in Scotland
Ardoch Roman Fort, also known as the Braco Fort or Alavna Veniconvm is a well preserved - many say exceptionally preserved - fort in Scotland. The earthworks include six foot high ditches although there are now no remaining wooden or stone structures at the site.
Badajoz Fortress is a 12th century fortification captured by the British during the Peninsula War.
Badajoz Fortress or 'Alcazaba de Badajoz' is a 12th century fortification in the city of Badajoz in Spain which now houses the Provincial Archaeological Museum. During the Peninsular War, the British made three attempts to breach Badajoz Fortress to capture it from the French.
The third attempt, known as the Battle of Badajoz, took place between 16 March and 6 April 1812 and saw an Anglo-Portguese force, led by Arthur Wellesley the (future) Duke of Wellington, eventually breach the thick curtain walls of Badajoz Fortress. The allied forces then stormed Badajoz, causing large-scale destruction.
The breaches in the Badajoz Fortress walls can still be seen today.
Bussaco Battlefield was the site of a victory by Wellington during the Peninsular War.
Bussaco Battlefield in Portugal was the site of a British-Portuguese victory against the French during the Peninsular War.
The Battle of Bussaco took place on 27 September 1810 and the allies were led by the Duke of Wellington. Visitors can see the headquarters of the French Marshal André Masséna and also visit the nearby military museum.
Fort Conception is a seventeenth century Spanish fort which served as a British base during the Peninsular War.
Fort Conception (Fort Concepcion) is a seventeenth century Spanish fort near the border with Portugal which was used as a base by the British Light Division in the Peninsular War.
In 1810, the Light Division blew up Fort Conception as enemy forces approached, but it is still incredibly well preserved.
Hassenhausen Museum in Auerstedt is a museum of the 1806 Battle of Jena-Auerstedt of the Napoleonic Wars.
Hassenhausen Museum in Germany chronicles the battles of Jena and Auerstadt (often jointly known as the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt). These battles of the Napoleonic Wars saw the Prussian Army defeated by the army of Napoleon I of France in two locations on 14 October 1806, confirming Napoleon’s military might and severely damaging that of Frederick William III of Prussia.
Located near the Auerstedt Battlefield, Hassenhausen Museum looks at the background and context of the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt as well as its aftermath. Visitors can view an intricate diorama of the battle, pieces found on the battlefield and also visit nearby monuments and memorials as well as touring the battlefield itself.
Jena Battlefield was the site of a Prussian defeat in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars.
Jena Battlefield in Thuringia, Germany was the site of the Battle of Jena during the Napoleonic Wars. On 14 October 1806, the Prussian army of Frederick William III together with Saxony troops met that of Napoleon’s French troops at Jena in Saxony, being modern day Germany.
In what is now known as the Battle of Jena, the Prussian army suffered a decisive defeat at the hands of the French Emperor. On the same day, another Prussian division was defeated at nearby Auerstädt.
Today, visitors can tour Jena Battlefield, including Windknollen and Landgrafenberg, on guided tours. Museum 1806, located on the map, offers a good introduction to the Battle of Jena. Re-enactments of the battle also take place at Jena Battlefield on the anniversary of the conflict.
Kazan Cathedral is an imposing nineteenth century cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Kazan Cathedral, also known as The Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan and Kazanskiy Kafedralniy Sobor, is a large and impressive nineteenth century cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. Designed by Andrei Voronikhin , Kazan Cathedral was modelled on Rome’s Basilica of St Paul and completed in 1811.
Kazan Cathedral has had a diverse history, including being a symbol of Russian victory following the defeat of Napoleon in the war of 1812 and even being a museum of aethism during the Bolshevik era. Remnants of its history prevail. For example, the Mikhail Kutuzov, a famous Russian Field Marshal who led the Russians in 1812, is buried there to this day and the museum still occupies part of Kazan Cathedral, although it has since undergone a name change.
Lutzen Battlefield was the site of an important battle of the Thirty Years’ War in 1632 and a Napoleonic victory in 1813.
At Lutzen Battlefield on 2 May 1813, Napoleon’s forces defeated the combined forces of the Prussian and Russian armies. This victory at the Battle of Lutzen was all the more remarkable given the depleted nature of Napoleon’s army following their incursion into Russia.
Lutzen Battlefield was also the site of an important battle in 1632 between Sweden and the Holy Roman Empire as part of the Thirty Years’ War. Sweden was victorious, but this was somewhat bittersweet as it was in this battle that the founder of the Swedish Empire, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden was killed. There is a memorial to this battle just outside Lutzen.
The Saluting Battery is one of Malta's most vibrant visitor attractions where history is brought to life daily! For almost 500 years, its guns protected the harbour against naval assault and were used for ceremonial purposes.
The Malta Saluting Battery - known locally as just the Saluting Battery - dates back 500 years and is one of the oldest of its kind to still be operated. In addition to providing the vibrant spectacle of the gun firing for visitors, the Malta Saluting Battery is also a great place for views of the harbour which it has historically protected. The gun is fired daily at noon and 4pm.
Portchester Castle has been a Roman fort, a Norman keep and even a wartime prison during the Napoleonic Wars.
Portchester Castle in Hampshire offers a fantastic insight into various periods of British history and originally dates back to the Roman era.
Built during Roman times, probably in the third century AD, Portchester Castle is the country’s only example of a Roman fort whose walls still stand complete up to around six metres.
Over the centuries, Portchester Castle has been renovated and rebuilt many times and its use has altered to suit the needs of its owners. In the eleventh century, parts of Portchester Castle were rebuilt into a Norman keep and in the fourteenth century Richard II transformed it into a palace. Like their Roman predecessor, both of these incarnations served a defensive function.
Yet, during the Napoleonic Wars, the role of Portchester Castle changed, as it became a prison for around 7,000 French prisoners of war. This change was due in large part to the reduced importance of Portchester Castle as a defensive structure following the building of the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard by King Henry VII.
Today, Portchester Castle is run by English Heritage who offer audio tours and exhibitions about the site as well as children’s activities.
The Salamanca Battlefield was the site of a major victory by the Duke of Wellington in 1812 during the Peninsular Wars.
The Salamanca Battlefield was the site of the Battle of Salamanca, a major clash in the Peninsular Wars, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
On 22 July 1812, the Duke of Wellington led the combined British, Spanish and Portuguese army to victory over the French forces led by Marshal Auguste Marmont.
There is a small monument on the Salamanca Battlefield commemorating this historic event.
The Talavera Battlefield Monument commemorates the first major victory won by the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Talavera Battlefield Monument near Talavera in Spain, commemorates the Battle of Talavera, which took place on 27 and 28 July 1809 and was the Duke of Wellington’s - then Sir Arthur Wellesley’s - first major victory of the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Talavera Battlefield Monument is a large memorial on the battlefield itself, although much of the battlefield is now separated by a road. It is actually a new monument, the original now being located on private land.
The Battle of the Nations Monument commemorates the 1813 Napoleonic Wars battle in which the French emperor suffered one of his greatest defeats.
The Battle of the Nations Monument near Leipzig was dedicated one hundred years after the momentous Battle of Leipzig, also known as the Battle of the Nations, took place.
One of the major battles of the Napoleonic Wars, the Battle of the Nations was fought from 16 to 18 October 1813 between Napoleon’s French army, which included many soldiers from the Confederation of the Rhine, and those of the countries of the Sixth Coalition. This coalition was formed to fight Napoleon and included Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and Sweden, as well as numerous German States.
The Battle of the Nations claimed around 100,000 lives and marked one of Napoleon’s greatest defeats. In fact, following the Battle of the Nations, the French emperor was driven out of Germany. Later, this coalition would invade France (1814), forcing him into exile to the Italian island of Elba.
Located near Napoleon’s command post in the battle, the Battle of the Nations Monument is a vast 91 metre high temple near Leipzig commemorating both the battle itself and those who died during the fighting. It took fifteen years to build and today the Battle of the Nations Monument includes a museum about the battle, the Forum 1813 museum. This museum uses over 350 original pieces to paint a picture of the Battle of the Nations, including uniforms, pictures and weaponry.
Guided tours of the Battle of the Nations Monument take place Tuesdays at 3pm and audio guides are available in English, German, French and Spanish.
The Vimeiro Monument commemorates the Battle of Vimeiro of 1808 during the Peninsular War.
The Vimeiro Monument is an obelisk in the town of Vimeiro in Portugal which commemorates the Battle of Vimeiro, fought between British-Portuguese forces under the (future) Duke of Wellington and French forces.
This battle took place on 21 August 1808, just days after the Battle of Roliça in which the French were defeated. It formed part of the Peninsular War.
The Battle of Vimeiro marked another victory for the British and culminated in the controversial Sintra Convention, whereby the French were allowed to leave Portugal.