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800px-Wellington_at_Waterloo_Hillingford

Hillingford’s “Wellington at Waterloo”

Today Riskies guest Sarah Eagle continues sharing her experience of the Waterloo Anniversary celebration. Last week she offered us a glimpse of the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball, 2015, and this week we go along with her and fellow author Eileen Dreyer on their tour of the battlefields, complete with reenactments.  Headshot2011  Sarah, who also writes contemporary romantic comedy as Sally Falcon, is offering a copy of LADY VENGEANCE, the first LadyVengeance-330Regency Historical she wrote for Harper Monogram (1995) after writing traditional Regencies for Berkley, to a randomly chosen commenter. For her full bio and more details on her giveaway book, please revisit her post here last Wednesday (July 22). *  *  *

We returned to Brussels early Thursday morning (June 18) since we were meeting The Cultural Experience group (http://theculturalexperience.com) at the train station at noon. Once we were divided into our groups –named for French officers for some reason – the Reille bus headed for Waterloo and the Wellington Museum. The other tour members were a mix of Brits and Scots. Unlike the conversation before I left, all the people on the tour knew Waterloo and lots of details. Our admin on the bus was a retired Captain in the Queen’s Royal Lancers. Our tour guide, a retired NATO Lt. General, began almost the minute the bus left the train station.

Wellington Museum

Wellington Museum

CE provided a lovely 60 page book of color contemporary paintings of the area around Ligny, Quatre Bras and Waterloo as well as campaign maps for all the battles. When we arrived in Waterloo at the Wellington Museum,   which had been headquarters for both Napoleon and Wellington, we were greeted by a cluster of reenactors both men and women. That seemed to be the norm anywhere you went around area. Across the street was the Church of St. Joseph that holds the memorials of many British who fought, including Royal Scots Greys. One memorial at the museum is now blank. It was Lord Uxbridge’s dedication to his leg he lost at the end of the battle of Waterloo. His family many years later decided to claim the leg and return it to his grave in England.

Entry battle 1st night

Entry to Battle

View 1st night

View 1st Night

The next day was of Ligny where the French and Prussians fought. This was the first battle after the sighting of the French disrupted the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball. Jonathan, our guide, had us walking the fields and covered the ground that had been fought over. That night was the first reenactment.    What an adventure! Stadiums had been put up in an L shape. Our tickets were in section K, but we hadn’t counted on the Belgian alphabet. The short part of the L for VIPs was A through D but when you rounded the corner it started at Z with K at the top of the stands. Our direct view was of the French cannons while the big action took place closer to the VIPs. Most of the narration was in French. The grasses on the field were about three feet high, which we’d seen in the fields during the day. That meant the horses were chest deep. In 1815, the wheat and rye were six feet high – about three feet higher than 2015.

Bivouac 1

Bivouac 1

On Saturday we continued our recounting of the battles with focus on Waterloo. The tour visited the bivouac of the allied troops who were camped around the Hougoument  and the area marked off for the reenactment. The Battle of Waterloo was fought in a 3 mile square area. Looking at that area now it’s very hard to imagine the numbers of men, horses and cannon maneuvering. Tour members and troops mingled. That night we returned to the stands. Did I mention it was over a mile from the bus parking lot to the stands among a crowd of thousands?

Royal Scots 1

Royal Scots

Bivouac 2

Bivouac 2

View Down field 2nd night

View down the field

The owner of The Cultural Experience had spoken to the people in charge over some issues from the first night. This evening all the horses and a good number of troops entered the field in front of where we were sitting. The narrative was in 4 languages. It was thrilling. Most of the action was still down field, but the wind shifted as the cannon started. The smoke moved over the VIP area and stayed there the rest of the night. Even though we weren’t level with the field it was exhilarating to be there for such an event.

The last day was spent at the Waterloo Visitors Center at the foot of the Lion’s Mound.   The lion was erected by the King of the Netherlands for his son, the Prince of Orange. It’s interesting the interpretation of each country. “Slender Billy”, the prince, seemed to be responsible for a high percentage of the death (along with Jerome Bonaparte) but he has the Visitors' Centerbiggest monument. The Belgians also seem to think Napoleon won. It was very hard in the gift shops and elsewhere to find Wellington commemoratives. The fun part of the visit that day were all the reenactors who were taking the tour in uniform. It was a lovely ending to an amazing trip.  * * *

For a daily report on the trip go to http://eileendreyer.com/2015/06/waterloo-15-tour-day-1/

Sally and Eileen will be offering a program on their trip at the Novelists, Inc conference this fall.

What do you think about Sally’s adventure? Don’t forget to comment below if you want to be entered in the giveaway!

1815. A momentous year and one with which any reader of Regency romance should be familiar. It was, after all, the year of Waterloo, the battle that defeated Napoleon once and for all.static1.squarespace

We are all looking forward to the two hundredth anniversary of Waterloo this year. In fact, our Susanna Fraser is planning to attend! As is my Australian friend, Lisa Chaplin, whose first historical fiction book, The Tide Watchers, is going to be making a big splash when it is released in June, the month of Waterloo!

1815 is famous for another battle, too, though.

Freedom to Love by Susanna FraserAs Susanna told us last week, January 1815 was the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, another battle that ended a war, although in this one, the British lost to the Americans. (Don’t forget! Susanna’s new book, Freedom To Love, that takes place after the battle is out now!)

Did you know there was another war that ended in 1815? It began in 1815, too. March 15, 1815, Joachim Murat, King of Naples, declared war on Austria, starting the Neapolitan War. Murat was Napoleon’s brother-in-law, married to Napoleon’s sister, Caroline, and had been a charismatic and daring cavalry officer. Napoleon appointed him King of Naples and Sicily, but when Napoleon was defeated at Murat2Leipzig, Murat switched sides and reached an agreement with Austria to save his throne. At the Congress of Vienna, though, he realized he had little support, especially from the British who wanted to restore King Ferdinand IV to the throne. When Murat heard of Napoleon’s escape from Elba, he switched sides again and declared war on Austria. The war ended in May after a decisive Austrian victory at the Battle of Tolentino. Ferdinand IV became King of Naples and Sicily and Murat was eventually executed.

1815 is famous for other things, too

Royal_Doulton_3916699266_64f808e041 The Corn Laws were enacted by Parliament. The Corn Laws were steep tariffs on imported grain designed to keep Great Britain’s grain prices high. Food prices were steep and the laws were opposed by Whigs and workers.

Jones, Watts, and Doulton started a stoneware pottery in South London that eventually becomes the Royal Doulton Company.

Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies erupted killing almost 100,ooo people and sending sulfide gas compounds into the upper atmosphere. It is thought that the gases blocked sunlight and led to 1816 being called the Year Without A Summer. Temperatures dropped, crops failed, famine was widespread in New England, Canada, and Europe.

Geological_map_-_William_Smith,_1815_-_BLWilliam Smith published the first national geological map of England, Scotland and Wales.

Jane Austen’s Emma was published, as were Sir Walter Scott’s Guy Mannering and Lord Byron’s Hebrew Melodies, a collection of poems including “She Walks In Beauty.”

Speaking of Byron, 1815 is the year he married Anna Milbanke. And is also the year his daughter Augusta Ada is born. Augusta became an early computer pioneer, and is often considered the first computer programmer.

99px-Emma,_Lady_Hamilton_by_George_RomneySir Humphry Davy invented the Davy lamp, a coal mining safety lamp.

Anthony Troloppe was born in 1815.

Emma, Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson’s mistress died in 1815. So did James Gillray, the famous caricaturist.

What other momentous events took place in 1815?

Diane Health Update: My back is much better. It still hurts some, though. Luckily, the dh’s pneumonia is all gone so he can do the heavy lifting!

729px-Louis_XVIII_relevant_la_FranceOn this day in 1814, a Bourbon King of France returned to the throne after the tumultuous period in history that included the French Revolution, Napoleon’s Empire, and the Napoleonic wars.

After Louis XVI of the House of Bourbon was overthrown and executed during the French Revolution, Napoleon rose to power in France, ultimately declaring himself emperor and, conquering most of Europe. In 1809, however, Wellington arrived in Portugal and by 1813 marched his British, Portugese and Spanish armies on to drive the French out of the Iberian peninsula. By April 1814, France fell as well.

In France, Napoleon’s former foreign minister, that old survivor, Talleyrand, convinced the Allied powers to restore the Bourbons to the throne. Other options, each with their own supporters, were considered–Napoleon’s son (through a regency), Louis Phillippe  son of the guillotined duc d’Orleans, the King of Sweden, or even Napoleon himself if he agreed to return France to its 1792 borders (Napoleon refused). The war-weary French populous were in support of a return of the Bourbon kings, however, so the decision was made.

Louis_XVIII_recadréLouis XVI’s brother became King Louis XVIII (Louis XVI’s young son, who died after miserable treatment by the Revolutionaries was considered King Louis XVII).

The new monarchy was a constitutional one and many of the Napoleonic reforms were maintained, but Louis XVIII fairly quickly became unpopular when he pressured for the return of lands to the original aristocratic owners or the Catholic Church. He also abolished the tricorn flag and insisted on marking the days that Louis XVII and Marie Antoinette were executed.

Ironically, May 4, 1814, was also the day Napoleon arrived at his first exile, the island of Elba, from where he escaped the following February to begin his Hundred Days– and sending Louis XVIII fleeing again.

Until Waterloo…

538px-Caricature_Charles_Philipon_pear

King Louis Phillippe gradually turning into a pear. Caricature by Honoré Daumier after Charles Philipon´s original sketch.

The Bourbons reigned until the popular uprisings of the July Revolution of 1830 finally placed Louis Phillippe, son of the guillotined duc d’Orleans, on the throne. He was originally beloved as the “Citizen King” but he became increasingly unpopular when, under his rule, the conditions of the working classes deteriorated, and the gap between the rich and poor became wider. He was the last king to rule France.

That ends your French history lesson for today. Any questions? Comments?

We’re on a historical road to Waterloo (the 200th anniversary) and this was one step along the way!

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