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Commemorative plate - Waterloo 1815

Date: Post 1815
Dimensions:
Overall: 50 x 270 x 210 mm, 512 g
Medium: Ceramic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Plate
Object No: 00052712

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    Description
    Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo marked a watershed in 19th century history ushering in a new period of peace which saw Britain consolidate its global quest for empire and full transformation to an industrial power. The great event and its heroes were celebrated in history, art and literature and in popular commemorative pieces such as this transfer-printed serving plate by an unknown maker.
    SignificanceThe defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the battle of Waterloo was a defining event of the 19th century establishing Britain as the dominant power in world politics for the rest of the century.
    HistoryBorn on the island of Corsica in 1769, Napoleon Bonaparte was educated and trained at the Ecole Militaire in Paris where he graduated as an artillery officer in 1785. The turbulent years of the French Revolution created opportunities for talented officers and Napoleon rose rapidly through the ranks to be promoted general in 1793 and major-general three years later. Between 1796 and 1799 Napoleon conducted military campaigns in Italy and Egypt, which despite setbacks, established him as the most gifted military leader in France - a position which he subsequently consolidated by crowning himself emperor in 1804.

    Over the next decade his Grand Army inflicted a number of devastating defeats against Austrian and Russian forces which saw France become the dominant power in Europe. For most of this period, Britain provided the only successful opposition to Napoleon, however, following the debacle of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 and the long-drawn and bitter contest for control of the Iberian Peninsula, Napoleon was confronted by a formidable coalition of Austrian and Prussian forces and defeated at the battle of Leipzig in 1813.

    In 1814 he abdicated and was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba, but by early 1815 he had escaped and landed in southern France. Napoleon's return signalled a rally of his old forces known as the 'hundred days' which climaxed at the battle of Waterloo in June 1815 where his forces were defeated by British and Prussian armies led by the Duke of Wellington and General Blucher. Waterloo marked the end of the Napoleonic wars and ushered in a new period of peace. Napoleon was exiled to the island of St. Helena in the south Atlantic where he died in 1821.

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