The Duke of Wellington by George Dawe

After completing the despatches and sending them off on June 19th,  the Duke of Wellington returned to Brussels to see some of the wounded and report to the King of the Netherlands. British troops crossed into France June 21, as did the Prussians. 

Lord Castlereagh

To make up for Wellington’s losses, Castlereagh promised reinforcements as more troops returned from North America.  But resistance was light on the part of the French.

On June 22, Wellington’s troops attacked Perronne, which soon surrendered; the French troops were sent home and replaced with a Dutch garrison.

General Sir Charles Colville
Sir Charles Colville commanded the far right of Wellington’s troops at Halle during the Battle of Waterloo, so far to the west of the main action that his troops did not take part in the fighting. Wellington thus sent his troops to storm Cambrai on July 24, the only French fortress that did not surrender immediately. Sir Charles and his troops suffered only a few dozen casualties in taking the town.  Cambrai became Wellington’s headquarters for the occupation of France.

Farther west, the Prussians advanced toward Paris, reportedly plundering as they went, in retribution for former defeats at French hands.

Various engagements were fought with troops under French Generals Grouchy and D’Erlon, as the Prussians and Anglo-Allies approached Paris and commissioners of the Provisional French government sought a cessation of hostilities.


Blücher and the Prussians agreed with Wellington: Napoleon’s abdication made no difference; the only way in which the French could end the fighting was to restore the government of King Louis XVIII, the legitimate ruler, the king Napoleon had driven out.

Joseph Fouché, Minister of Police

Two men who changed sides repeatedly — from the time of the French Revolution through the Napoleonic Wars, the restoration, the Hundred Days, and now, choosing to work for another restoration of the Bourbon monarchy – spoke for the French at this crucial moment.  Whether either Talleyrand or Joseph Fouché had any bedrock principles (other than self-preservation) has long been debated.  But at this point, they were both clever enough to have played the game successfully.

Fouché (1763-1820)  early in the Revolution was an eager Jacobin who voted for the execution of Louis XVI. He later became a powerful advocate for centralized power as Minister of Police. Napoleon appointed him head of Internal Security, but alternatively distrusted, then re-appointed him. Fouché had dangerous networks of secret informants and spies.
      When Napoleon first abdicated and went to Elba, Fouché served the restoration government but maintained contact with Napoleon. During the Hundred Days, he again served Napoleon as head of security. Upon Napoleon’s second fall, Fouché acted for the provisional government in negotiation with the Allies for the second restoration. However, once the monarchists were in power again in 1815, he was sent off to Saxony as an ambassador, where his networks were no longer useful.


Talleyrand managed to make himself necessary to almost every faction that temporarily had power in France for the last twenty years. Though his influence declined during the second restoration, he remained in Paris, freely giving his opinions on policy,  After the July Revolution of 1830, King Louis-Philippe made him French Ambassador to Great Britain for the years 1830-34.

Wellington and Blücher ordered the French army to evacuate Paris and withdraw below the Loire River. Paris resistance collapsed July 5 and King Louis XVIII was again on the throne of France.

Pont d’Iena

Wellington kept Blücher from blowing up a Pont d’Iena, a bridge over the Seine (now near the Eiffel Tower), built to commemorate Napoleon’s victory over the Prussians in 1806.  Reportedly Wellington – the ultimate practical man —  said, “A bridge is a bridge.”

Duc de Richelieu by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1817, © The Royal Collection

After elections were held in France in August 1815, Armand Emmanuel,  Duke of Richelieu  (1766-1822), gained power as Prime Minister of France, succeeding Talleyrand.  Richelieu officially signed the peace treaties on behalf of his nation in November 1815. He was instrumental in negotiating the end of the occupation of France in 1818.

“Mopping up” took place elsewhere in France and abroad.  British troops retook Martinique and Guadaloupe in the Caribbean.  Even more important were the British actions in the Mediterranean, where the naval ports of Marseilles and Toulon were subdued in July 1815. The last hold-out, on the Luxembourg frontier, surrendered on September 13.

The Treaty of Paris of 1815 was finally signed on November 20, 1815.  The territorial terms were similar to those of the first treaty, signed after Napoleon’s first abdication, but included more sever reparations payments. Signatories were France, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia. Additional agreements covered claims by individuals, the neutrality of Switzerland, and most importantly, banning the slave trade: “abolition of a Commerce so odious, and so strongly condemned by the laws of religion and nature.”

 Marshall Ney (1769-1815) by Charles Meynier

Execution of Marshall Ney by firing squad;
painting by Jean-Leon Gerome, 1868

In November, Marshal Ney was tried for treason:  deserting Louis XVIII for Napoleon during the Hundred Days. Despite his heroism in leading the French troops at Waterloo, having several horses shot out from under him, Ney was executed by firing squad, declining a blindfold a
nd declaring his patriotism as the squad took aim — the Bravest of the Brave to the end.

In late 1818, the Four Allies met at Aix-la-Chapelle to discuss the withdrawal of the Army of Occupation of France. Agreement was reached and the foreign troops left French soil by the end of November, 1818. A number of other issues were discussed as well, regarding various problems in Europe. The conference set a new standard for the conduct of international affairs.

Congress Memorial in Aix-la-Chapelle (aka Aachen)

 French history in the 19th and 20 centuries saw many changes of government.  Louis XVIII died in 1824, succeeded by his brother, Charles X (1757-1836), from 1824 until 1830. Charles X had been long known as Comte d’Artois, youngest brother of Louis XVI. He spent a large part of his life in exile from France, and lived in Mayfair on South Audley Street from 1805-1814. After he was deposed in 1830, he again spent part of his exile in Britain before dying in Austria in 1836.

Charles X by Pierre-Narcisse Guerin
After only six years on the throne, the July Revolution brought Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orleans, into power as the King of France. Louis-Philippe was part of a “cadet” branch of the Bourbons, a cousin of Louis XVIII and Charles X.  He had been in exile during the Napoleonic era, traveling extensively including in the US.  He was proclaimed King by the Chamber of Deputies in August 1830. Two years later in 1832, Louise-Marie, his daughter, married Leopold I of Belgium 

King Louis-Philippe (1773-1859)
by Francis Xavier Winterhalter
During the February 1848 revolution in France, part of the revolutionary movement that swept Europe that year, Louis-Philippe abdicated and fled to England (where he lived at Claremont House, Surrey, once the home of his son-in-law King Leopold o Belgium when he was married to the late Princess Charlotte).

Claremont House, Surrey
Om France, the Second Republic began, and who should they elect as President but Louis Napoleon, son of Napoleon’s brother Louis and Hortense, daughter of Napoleon’s first wife Josephine.  (Are you keeping score??).  In 1852, Louis Napoleon dissolved the elected Republic and declared himself Napoleon III, thus establishing the Second Empire, which lasted until the Franco Prussian War in 1870-71. Napoleon III followed repressive policies and limited freedoms, but it is his reign that gave us most of the beauties of Paris we enjoy today, a legacy we can appreciate without admiring his other policies. 

Napoleon III by Alexandre Cabanel

When Napoleon III was a captive of Prussia, deputies in Paris declared a government of national defense, which tried to continue the war against Prussia, but within a few months, capitulated and ended the war. The Third French Republic was declared but stiff war reparation payments and other issues led to the Paris Commune.

The two-months of the Paris Commune in 1871, one of many uprisings of Paris workers and socialists during the century, was defeated by the regular army by the end of May 1871. Its short life became an inspiration to communist leaders such as Lenin and Mao. It was not until the 1880’s that the quarrels over re-establishment of a monarchy with competing claims of various pretenders was overcome

The Third French Republic continued until the Fall of France in 1940 and the establishment of the Vichy government. We leave Postwar France to the contemporary historians.

Roses blooming in Josephine’s gardens
Malmaison, 2014

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