I was born in Eastbourne on the south coast of England, which is the location of a Napoleonic fortifcation called the Redoubt. When I was growing up it was the home of an exceptionally kitsch model village and a rather charming aquarium called the Blue Grotto. This was an eccentric use for an historic monument, and the council decided to turn into something more appropriate. There was, as there always is in small towns, an outcry about the change to a much loved local amenity. The argument went on until some vandals broke in one night and smashed the model village up.
‘Better luck next time!’ – British sailors to Napoleon as he was transferred to the ship taking him to exile in St Helena.
The period of upheaval that started with the French Revolution and ended at Waterloo cries out to be treated as a single phenomenon. From the moment of the storming of the Bastille to the final breaking of the French lines at Waterloo the continent of Europe and to some extent the rest of the World, was in perpetual conflict for 26 years. When the fighting was over the course of history had changed forever.