The battle deserves to be celebrated not as the end of the first “total war,” but as the beginning of a “total peace"
"In our focus on the downfall of Napoleon at Waterloo, we have forgotten how this peace was implemented. In the weeks following the battle outside of Brussels, the British and Prussian armies marched to Paris, where they encamped in the Bois de Boulogne and on the Champs-Elysées. By the middle of July, they were joined in France by troops from most of the rest of Europe, including Russia, Austria, Saxony, Bavaria, Württemberg, Hanover, Denmark, Piedmont, and even Spain. Totaling over a million men, these “Allies,” as they were called, occupied some two-thirds of the territory of France until well into the fall. As their leaders deliberated over a peace settlement, these troops ravaged the countryside, requisitioning, pillaging, assaulting, and raping local inhabitants."
Christine Haynes is Associate Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This piece is based on research for her forthcoming book, entitled “Our Friends, the Enemies”: The First Allied Occupation of France, 1815-1818 (under contract with Harvard University Press).