What if Napoleon Had Won at the Battle of Waterloo? Part 1

About what might have happened if Napoleon and the French armies had won at the Battle of Waterloo, an alternate history.

WHAT IF . . . ?

What If Napoleon Had Won At Waterloo?

What Really Happened: After defeating the Prussians at Ligny on June 16, 1815, Napoleon engaged Wellington's army at Waterloo on June 18. He had almost achieved victory when the English were reinforced by Blucher's Prussian troops. Although the Old Guard fought heroically, it was at last overcome. The French were forced to fall back and Napoleon--his dreams of reconquest shattered--gave up his command the following day.

But What If . . . Napoleon had won the Battle of Waterloo?

Here Is What Might Have Happened: Continental Europe would have experienced a period of stability, but England would have undergone a domestic upheaval, contends G. M. Trevelyan. In his prizewinning entry in a contest sponsored by the Westminster Gazette in July, 1907 (reprinted in If It Had Happened Otherwise, J. C. Squire, ed., N. Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1974), Trevelyan provides the following controversial scenario.

When the Convention of Brussels was signed on June 26, 1815, Wellington fully expected onerous conditions of peace to be imposed, but he encountered a totally changed Napoleon--a Napoleon no longer interested in the expansion of his French Empire. In part, the change may have been due to his general physical deterioration, but it was also brought about by the emotional climate in Paris. Dissident parties and sects had joined together with a single objective: peace. Not only the politicians but also the ranks of French soldiers clamored for this goal. Thus England suffered no harsh reprisals, and Austrian foreign minister Metternich arranged a stable settlement throughout Europe, based on Napoleon's acceptance of the Rhine as his frontier and the recognition of a French hegemony in the Italian Peninsula. Fear of the possibility of renewed war afforded established European governments a marked degree of tolerance, if not popularity.

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