It has been two centuries since the Battle of Waterloo was fought between the French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte and the British forces of the Duke of Wellington – a decisive crossroads in history that changed Europe's fate and ended Napoleon's reign in the continent.
Since 1804, Napoleon had been trying to establish a European empire under his military dictatorship. Over the course of the next few years, Napoleon continued his defiant invasion of countries across Europe, which led to his forced abdication. He returned to Paris in early 1815, setting the scene for war with his enemies – Prussia, Russia, and Austria.
On 16 June 1815, Napoleon sent 33,000 men to war with Prussia led by Gebhard Von Blucher, who soon retreated. Overcome with the confidence of victory, he sent troops to fight his counterpart, military giant Wellington, in Waterloo near Brussels two days later.
Owing to heavy rain, Napoleon waited until midday to attack. This gave Wellington's allies time to reach Waterloo and join his troops. Napoleon’s men were outnumbered as a result of his miscalculation.
The long fight had drained Napoleon's resources, but he still led his men to the Allied frontline. A bloody battle ensued. By the night, Wellington had succeeded in halting Napoleon. He was defeated and exiled, after which he succumbed to cancer in 1821.
The small man had nonetheless left a big footprint.
There are many interesting but little-known specifics of the battle of Waterloo, that History.com has made known:
1. The Battle of Waterloo wasn't actually fought in Waterloo, but three miles south of the town of Waterloo, in the villages.
2. Weather caused a major delay in the battle, as the muddy ground slowed down Napoleon’s men and gave time for the opposite camp to mobilise.
3. Napoleon's true Waterloo may have been his haemorrhoids. It is believed by some scholars that Napoleon suffered a painful bout of haemorrhoids on the morning of the battle, because of which he could not ride his horse.
4. Looters extracted teeth from dead soldiers and sold them to dentists to make dentures, which dentists proudly called “Waterloo Teeth”.