Napoleonic

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When was Britain’s finest hour?

When was Britain’s finest hour? For most readers the answer is easy: the summer of 1940, when Britain stood alone in defiance of the Third Reich, urged on by the soaring rhetoric of Winston Churchill. Chris Bambery disagrees.

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Nelson’s Trafalgar sketch discovered in scrapbook

All great military tacticians plan their campaigns carefully, but only very rarely do those plans survive. Now a sketch showing Admiral Lord Nelson’s proposed route to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar has been discovered.

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War of Words – ‘Waterloo’

‘Waterloo’ – and especially variations of the phrase ‘to meet one’s Waterloo’ – have come to signify a firm, conclusive end to a person or a thing.

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The Military History Behind the Vagrancy Act

The 1824 Vagrancy Act – which criminalises rough sleeping – has become the subject of public debate after Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s Labour Party, committed to repeal it in the event of a Labour government. A parliamentary debate on the Act, organised by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, is due to take place in March. With the recent rise in homelessness across the […]

Jane-Austen

Jane Austen: a wartime writer?

War and violence are the last things one would associate with that 19th-century doyenne of English literature, Jane Austen. Ambles in the countryside, flirtatious glances, frocks with lace and frills, and the relentless pursuit of wealthy bachelors are the more likely images conjured by her name.

Yet conventional interpretations of the novelist’s work lack reference to a crucial context – that of war. For most of Jane Austen’s life, Britain was involved in conflicts of varying existential significance across the globe.

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Battlefield Medicine: Wellington’s medical service at Waterloo

There were around 50 hospital staff in Brussels before Waterloo, some of whom had recently been on campaign elsewhere in the Low Countries. Other regimental doctors came over with their battalions, as did other hospital staff members (physicians, apothecaries, purveyors, and dispensers).  At the time of Waterloo, there was no anaesthesia, no knowledge of or […]

Waterloo

Waterloo – map of troop manoeuvres

This map explains the movements of the French, British, and Prussian forces from the 15 to the 18 June, 1815. Napoleon seized the initiative in the Hundred Days campaign by marching his army across the frontier and into Belgium on 15 June. He struck Blücher’s Prussians with his main force at Ligny on 16 June, but his […]

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Map of the Wellington's Lines of Torres Vedras – from September 1809

The lines of the Torres Vedras were lines of forts secretly built by the British from around September 1809-1812 to protect Lisbon during the Peninsular War. The landscape was remodelled wholesale to make it more defensible. Every approach was covered by at least one fort, and all forts were mutually supporting. Trench-lines covered some of […]

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