Marlborough College Summer School

Napoleonic Era

According to a famous military historian, Sahagun was ‘perhaps the most brilliant exploit of the British Cavalry’ during the whole course of the Peninsular Wars. By D.G. Chandler.

In 1808, writes H.J. Barnes, a Scottish Benedictine played an important part in securing the return of Spanish troops from Denmark for service in the Peninsular War against Napoleon.

Like all military dictators, writes W.A. Thorburn, Bonaparte understood the martial importance of well-designed uniforms.

“They are as good as I could write now,” said the Duke in 1834. “They show the same attention to details — to the pursuit of all the means, however small, that could promote success.”

Ill-fed, badly lodged, subject to ferocious discipline, once described by their leader as “fellows who have all enlisted for drink,” Wellington’s soldiers showed a solidity and courage in action that enabled him to “do the business”. By T.H. McGuffie.

The British attacked Copenhagen in August 1807 because, Canning claimed, Denmark was about to become a French satellite. Hilary Barnes asks, was he mistaken?

Napoleon returned to Paris in 1814 pledged to the concept of a liberal Empire. From the paradoxical experience of the Hundred Days, writes Harold Kurtz, sprang both the legend and reality of Bonapartism.

Though some recent historians have been kind to the favourite, writes Douglas Hilt, during his lifetime Manuel Godoy was generally denounced as an intriguing parvenu.

The crossing of the Beresina alone cost Napoleon more than 20,000 men. But, writes Alan Collis, some fortunate survivors of the terrible retreat from Moscow struggled home to tell the tale.

Between 1798 and 1800, writes Geoffrey Bennett, a Russian fleet co-operated with the British in the Mediterranean.

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