After a British-funded coalition of Russia, Prussia, Sweden and Austria forced Napoleon’s abdication at Fontainebleau in 1814, the Emperor, now down but not out, withdrew to a brief exile on the tiny Mediterranean island of Elba. He returned, deposed the Bourbon King Louis XVII with difficulty and raised another army to move into Belgium where the British and Prussians were awaiting him. Indecisive actions at Ligny and Quatre Bras were followed by the final showdown at Waterloo, often called the first modern land battle, on June 18th 1815, in which British defensive tactics (the hollow squares) and discipline triumphed over the French fury of the cavalry charge. The belated arrival on the Prussians sealed Napoleon’s fate and he was sent on a second – and final – exile to the more distant Atlantic island of St Helena.
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