Napoleonic Wars

The Napoleonic Wars were fought between 1803 and 1815, during the period of Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule over France. Rising to power in the aftermath of the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte made himself France’s ‘First Consul’ in 1799 and shortly after was crowned its emperor. War with the United Kingdom commenced in 1803, ending a short period of peace under the Treaty of Amiens. The Napoleonic Wars changed the way Europeans fought, including military strategy, soldier enrolment and weapons technology. Cannons became lighter and more mobile. Armies were larger, mainly because of compulsory conscription, and better fed. In battle the French troops were powerful, fast and destructive, with France conquering most of Europe by the end of the first decade. By 1812, following his failed effort to invade Russia, Napoleon’s power quickly waned. Three years later, in the wake of France’s devastating loss to the British at the Battle of Waterloo, the Napoleonic Wars ended with the second Treaty of Paris on 20 November 1815. Defeated and shamed, Napoleon was sent into exile on the remote island of Saint Helena. The Bourbon dynasty was reinstalled to rule France.