Monday, 22 April 2013

Marking Waterloo

The victory of the Duke of Wellington over the Emperor Napoleon I on 18 June 1815 – and his subsequent removal from power – is an event, which is traditionally interpreted as bringing much rejoicing and thanksgivings for the end of a 25-year war. This would overlook the fact that Napoleon I, and the system he represented, had considerable support amongst the political and religious radicals groups – such as Unitarians and Methodists who did not and could not celebrate the downfall of their idol.

News of the victory at Waterloo arrived in London on Sunday 25 June 1815, by which point Napoleon had abdicated and Provisional Government formed. Wellington’s dispatches had travelled overland, carried by a Mr Lane. Lane had left Paris on 20 June, arriving at Boulogne on Saturday 24 and, whilst there, acquired copies of the Parisian papers (dated 20 and 21 June) which contained details of the French victories at Quatre Bras and Ligny. The Morning Chronicle announced the abdication of Napoleon on  Monday 26 June.[1] The Morning Post, however, published details of Waterloo from the Moniteur (the French state newspaper) dated 22 June as well as particulars of the battle from the Belgian newspapers of 23 June.[2] News of the victory travelled fast – it reached Bury St. Edmunds on 28 June – and Edinburgh on the 29![3]