Polychronicon 158: Reinterpreting Napoleon

Teaching History feature

By Malcolm Crook, published 28th March 2015

On 18 June 2015, the two-hundredth anniversary of the great battle of Waterloo will be commemorated in Britain and on the continent (though not in France). It will represent the climax of the Napoleonic bicentenary, which has been in full flow since the turn of the twenty-first century. Fresh biographies of the great man continue to appear on a regular basis - nearly all of them weighty tomes - while the key battles on land and sea have also received renewed attention in the form of books, conferences and exhibitions. Political, social and cultural facets of the Napoleonic era have also been examined, which at last explore the mechanics of the emperor's regime and encompass the experience of his subjects. Biography and battle have thus been supplemented by the sort of broader research that has long characterised approaches to the preceding revolutionary decade. This historiographical coming of age offers an excellent vantage point from which to survey the field and to highlight the new interpretations that have been put forward...

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