Visual History of the World




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The Modern Era

1789 - 1914

In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.


Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.


see also:

Between Two Revolutions

(From David to Delacroix)



Napoleonic Domination

1792 - 1814


Napoleon Bonaparte - biography

1769 August 15 - Birth at Ajaccio, Corsica
1779 College d’Autun, later Military School Brienne
1784 Royal Military School in Paris
1793 Brigadier General
1795 Commander of the Army of the Interior
1796, March - Head of the Army of Italy
1798 Egyptian Campaign
1799 First Consul of France
1802 Treaty of Amiens
1804 Emperor of the French
1805, Sept 21 - Oct 20 - Battle of Ulm
1805, October 21 - Battle of Trafalgar
1805, December 2 -  Battle of Austerlitz
1807, February 7–8 - Battle of Eylau
1808 Peninsular War
1809, May 21-22 - Battle of Aspern-Essling
1809, July 5-6 - Battle of Wagram
1812 Russian Campaign
1813 Battle of the Nations at Leipzig, Germany
1814 Abdication, Elba
1815 Waterloo (Belgium), St. Helena
1821 May 5 - Death on St. Helena Island


The Congress of Vienna

Map represents Napoleon’s Grand Empire (1812). Map of Europe after Congress of Vienna.


Napoleon returned to power once more in 1815, but was finally defeated for good at Waterloo Following the Napoleonic wars, the Congress of Vienna, presided over by the Austrian Furst von Metternich sought to reestablish a new order in Europe.


Napoleon was not willing to resign himself to exile. He fled Elba, landed near Cannes in March 1815, raised troops, and again seized power in Paris with his
army—but for only a short time, the "Hundred Days." The allies swiftly responded to Napoleon's return.

They confronted him in Belgium and defeated him a final time under the leadership of 6 Field Marshal von Blucherand the Duke of Wellington in the 8 Battle of Waterloo on June 18.

Napoleon was exiled permanently to St. Helena, where he died on May 5,1821. King Louis XVIII, who had fled during the Hundred Days, returned. By a second Treaty of Paris, France was forced to make reparations and accept further loss of territory.


Hundred Days

Evening of Waterloo by Ernest Crofts

French history
French Cent Jours
in French history, period between March 20, 1815, the date on which Napoleon arrived in Paris after escaping from exile on Elba, and July 8, 1815, the date of the return of Louis XVIII to Paris. The phrase was first used by the prefect of the Seine, comte de Chabrol de Volvic, in his speech welcoming the king.

Less than a year following his abdication (April 6, 1814) and the Bourbon Restoration, Napoleon left his island exile in the Tyrrhenian Sea and landed at Cannes on March 1, leading 1,500 men, and marched at once upon Paris. Louis XVIII fled to Ghent on March 13, and Napoleon entered Paris one week later. To broaden his support, Napoleon made liberal changes to the Imperial Constitution, which led a number of former opponents, most notably Benjamin Constant, to rally to his cause. On March 25 Austria, Britain, Prussia, and Russia concluded an alliance against Napoleon and forced a series of military engagements leading up to the fatal Battle of Waterloo (June 18).

On June 22 Napoleon abdicated a second time; on July 15 he boarded a British warship at Rochefort, essentially a prisoner; and exactly three months later he was landed at St. Helena, a British island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, on July 8, Louis XVIII had returned to Paris in the second Bourbon Restoration.

Encyclopaedya Britannica


 Battle of Waterloo, painted by William Sadler


Battle of Waterloo

Napoleon at Waterloo

European history
(June 18, 1815), Napoleon’s final defeat, ending 23 years of recurrent warfare between France and the other powers of Europe. It was fought during the Hundred Days of Napoleon’s restoration, 3 miles (5 km) south of Waterloo village (which is 9 miles [14.5 km] south of Brussels), between Napoleon’s 72,000 troops and the combined forces of the Duke of Wellington’s Allied army of 68,000 (with British, Dutch, Belgian, and German units) and about 45,000 Prussians, the main force of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher’s command. After defeating the Prussians at Ligny and holding Wellington at Quatre-Bras in secondary battles south of Waterloo on June 16, Napoleon’s marshals, Michel Ney and Emmanuel de Grouchy, failed to attack and annihilate either enemy while their armies were separated. Grouchy, with 33,000 men, nearly one-third of Napoleon’s total strength of 105,000, led a dilatory pursuit of Blücher. On the 18th he was tied down at Wavre by 17,000 troops of Blücher’s rear guard, while Blücher’s main force escaped him, rejoined Wellington, and turned the tide of battle at Waterloo, 8 miles (13 km) to the southwest. At Waterloo, Napoleon made a major blunder in delaying the opening of his attack on Wellington from morning until midday, to allow the ground to dry; this delay gave Blücher’s troops exactly the time they needed to reach Waterloo and support Wellington.

The four main French attacks against Wellington’s army prior to 6:00 pm on June 18 all failed in their object—to decisively weaken the Allied centre to permit a French breakthrough—because they all lacked coordination between infantry and cavalry. Meanwhile, a secondary battle developed, in which the French were on the defensive against the 30,000 Prussian troops of Karl von Bülow’s corps of Blücher’s army. The Prussians arrived at Waterloo gradually and put pressure on Napoleon’s eastern flank. To prevent the Prussians from advancing into his rear, Napoleon was forced to shift a corps under Georges Mouton, Count de Lobau, and to move several Imperial Guard battalions from his main battle against Wellington.

Finally, at 6:00 pm, Ney employed his infantry, cavalry, and artillery in a coordinated attack and captured La Haye Sainte, a farmhouse in the centre of the Allied line. The French artillery then began blasting holes in the Allied centre. The decisive hour had arrived: Wellington’s heavy losses left him vulnerable to any intensification of the French attack. But Ney’s request for infantry reinforcements was refused because Napoleon was preoccupied with the Prussian flank attack. Only after 7:00 pm, with his flank secured, did he release several battalions of the Imperial Guard to Ney; but by then Wellington had reorganized his defenses, aided by the arrival of a Prussian corps under H.E.K. von Zieten. Ney led part of the guard and other units in the final assault on the Allies. The firepower of the Allied infantry shattered the tightly packed guard infantry. The repulse of the guard at 8:00 pm, followed in 15 minutes by the beginning of the general Allied advance and further Prussian attacks in the east, threw the French army into a panic; a disorganized retreat began. The pursuit of the French was taken up by the Prussians. Napoleon lost 25,000 men killed and wounded and 9,000 captured. Wellington’s casualties were 15,000 and Blücher’s were about 8,000. Four days later Napoleon abdicated for the second time.

Encyclopaedya Britannica


8 The defeat of Napoleon's troops at the
Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815

  In February 1815, Napoleon escaped from Elba for a final "Hundred Days" of power. He took over the government in Paris on 20 March and prepared for war once more. His renewed attempt to dominate Europe failed, however, and he finally surrendered to the British after the French defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

He was taken to Plymouth in the Bellerophon, before being transferred to HMS Northumberland. With a small entourage, he was exiled to the remote island of St Helena, 5000 miles from Europe.

Napoleon died on 5 May 1821 and requested that his ashes be interred in Paris. Instead, he was buried with full military honours in a nameless tomb on St Helena.

Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo 
by Ernest Crofts



Napoleon on board HMS 'Bellerophon', 1815 

Scene in Plymouth Sound in August 1815, by John James Chalon.
Pictured is HMS Bellerophon with Napoleon aboard,
shortly before his transferral to HMS Northumberland for delivery to Saint Helena.

The 10 Congress of Vienna had been in session since September 1814 with the goal of territorially reorganizing Europe and establishing a balance of powers.

10 Proceedings at the Congress of Vienna

With the exception of the Ottoman Empire, the 7 leading statesmen of all European nations were participating.

The negotiations were dominated by Prince Klemens von Metternich, the Austrian chancellor and chairman of the congress; Prussian chancellor Karl August von Hardenberg; the British foreign minister, Viscount Castlereagh; Czar Alexander I; and the French representative, 9 Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, who was able to ensure that his country had a say in the matters. However, France was forced to relinquish territories it had seized.

In addition, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was founded, Switzerland was recognized as an independent and neutral state, and Russia, Prussia, and Austria were able to increase their territories. Italy remained divided into individual states. This concord was so successful that Europe enjoyed almost 40 years of peace.

A component of the Congress of Vienna was the Confederation Act, signed by 41 German states on June 9. 1815. A German confederation, in which Prussia and Austria assumed leadership, took the place of the Holy Roman Empire, which was dissolved in 1806.

6 Field Marshal von Blucher
7 Metternich, Castlereagh, Hardenberg and Czar Alexander I
9 Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord



Wilhelm Freiherr von Humboldt on the Congress of Vienna:

Wilhelm Freiherr von Humboldt

The business however is not going well... Generally this is because the people that are the main negotiators, are, each for particular reasons, not suited to the business.

So everyone goes his own way or at least tries to and the great linking power or reason is often searched for in vain.

Caricature of the Congress of Vienna



Congress of Vienna by Jean-Baptiste Isabey


Congress of Vienna

1. Wellington (UK)
2. Joaquim Lobo da Silveira (Portugal)
3. António de Saldanha da Gama (Portugal)
4. Count Carl Löwenhielm (Sweden)
5. Jean-Louis-Paul-François, 5th Duke of Noailles (France)
6. Metternich (Austria)
7. André Dupin (France)
8. Count Karl Robert Nesselrode (Russia)
9. Pedro de Sousa Holstein, Count of Palmella (Portugal)
10. Castlereagh (UK)
11. Emmerich Joseph, Duke of Dalberg (France)
12. Johann von Wessenberg (Austria)
13. Prince Andrey Kirillovich Razumovsky (Russia)

14. Charles Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry (UK)
15. Pedro Gómez Labrador, Marquis of Labrador (Spain)
16. Richard Le Poer Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty (UK)
17. Wacken (Recorder)
18. Friedrich von Gentz (Congress Secretary)
19. Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt (Prussia)
20. William Schaw Cathcart, 1st Earl Cathcart (UK)
21. Prince Karl August von Hardenberg (Prussia)
22. Talleyrand (France)
23. Count Gustav Ernst von Stackelberg (Russia)
24. probably Francis I of Austria
25. Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz (Austria)



Congress of Vienna

Congress of Vienna

European history
assembly in 1814–15 that reorganized Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. Having begun in September 1814, five months after Napoleon’s first abdication, it completed its “Final Act” in June 1815, shortly before the Waterloo campaign and the final defeat of Napoleon. The settlement was the most comprehensive treaty that Europe had ever seen.

Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain, the four powers chiefly instrumental in the overthrow of Napoleon, had concluded a special alliance among themselves with the Treaty of Chaumont, on March 9, 1814, a month before Napoleon’s first abdication. The subsequent treaties of peace with France, signed on May 30 not only by the “four” but also by Sweden and Portugal and on July 20 by Spain, stipulated that all former belligerents should send plenipotentiaries to a congress in Vienna. Nevertheless, the “four” still intended to reserve the real making of decisions to themselves. Two months after the sessions began, however, Bourbon France was admitted to the “four.” The “four” thus became the “five,” and it was the committee of the “five” that was the real Congress of Vienna.

Representatives began to arrive in Vienna toward the end of September 1814. Klemens, prince von Metternich, principal minister of Austria, represented his emperor, Francis II. Tsar Alexander I of Russia directed his own diplomacy. King Frederick William III of Prussia had Karl, prince von Hardenberg, as his principal minister. Great Britain was represented by its foreign minister, Viscount Castlereagh. When Castlereagh had to return to his parliamentary duties, the Duke of Wellington replaced him, and Lord Clancarty was principal representative after the duke’s departure. The restored Louis XVIII of France sent Talleyrand. Spain, Portugal, and Sweden had only men of moderate ability to represent them. Many of the rulers of the minor states of Europe put in an appearance. With them came a host of courtiers, secretaries, and ladies to enjoy the magnificent social life of the Austrian court.

The major points of friction occurred over the disposition of Poland and Saxony, the conflicting claims of Sweden, Denmark, and Russia, and the adjustment of the borders of the German states. In general, Russia and Prussia were opposed by Austria, France, and England, which at one point (Jan. 3, 1815) went so far as to conclude a secret treaty of defensive alliance. The major final agreements were as follows.

For Poland, Alexander gave back Galicia to Austria and gave Thorn and a region around it to Prussia; Kraków was made a free town. The rest of the duchy of Warsaw was incorporated as a separate kingdom under the Russian emperor’s sovereignty. Prussia got two-fifths of Saxony and was compensated by extensive additions in Westphalia and on the left bank of the Rhine. It was Castlereagh who insisted on Prussian acceptance of this latter territory, with which it had been suggested the king of Saxony should be compensated; Castlereagh wanted Prussia to guard the Rhine against France and act as a buttress to the new Kingdom of The Netherlands, which comprised both the former United Provinces and Belgium. Austria was compensated by Lombardy and Venice and also got back most of Tirol. Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden on the whole did well. Hanover was also enlarged. The outline of a constitution, a loose confederation, was drawn up for Germany—a triumph for Metternich. Denmark lost Norway to Sweden but got Lauenburg, while Swedish Pomerania went to Prussia. Switzerland was given a new constitution.

In Italy, Piedmont absorbed Genoa; Tuscany and Modena went to an Austrian archduke; Parma was given to Marie-Louise, consort of the deposed Napoleon. The Papal States were restored to the pope, Naples to the Sicilian Bourbons.

Valuable articles were agreed to on the free navigation of international rivers and diplomatic precedence. Castlereagh’s great efforts for the abolition of the slave trade were rewarded only by a pious declaration.

The Final Act of the Congress of Vienna comprised all these agreements in one great instrument. It was signed on June 9, 1815, by the “eight” (except Spain, who refused as a protest against the Italian settlement). All the other powers subsequently acceded to it.

As a result, the lines laid down by the Congress of Vienna lasted, except for one or two changes, for more than 40 years.

Encyclopaedya Britannica



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