June 23, 2010

Waterloo 1815

I spend a lot of time in Waterloo, but this weekend Jon and I took a ride there on a date.
Our bikes on the B.

Every five years, the infamous Battle of Waterloo is reenacted just outside of Waterloo, Belgium. Last Sunday was the end of a three day celebration marking the 195th anniversary of Napoleon's defeat. Jon and I had tickets to see the two hour show. About 3,000 people participate in historically accurate costume and formation.
Cannons. They shot blanks.

A French soldier.
More French soldiers. Note their authentic canteens and costumes.

I had no idea of what to expect and I didn't really know much at all about the Battle, I was just thrilled to go. I thought it would be fun! We had tickets to sit in the stands and we had a great view. Typical Belgian, it rained and was also 40 degree weather, but WHAT A SHOW!

The beginning, and the British waiting it out...
The slow, grueling battle; everyone is keeping their distance, moving forward cautiously.
French formations returning British, Belgian, Dutch, and German fire.

I think these are the Prussians... I should have paid more attention in history class.

Napoleon is in the bottom right of this photo. He waved to the crowd and got a standing ovation. 

It's getting intense: the French are surround and the British are coming!

Prussians to the rescue! (They helped the British defeat Napoleon.)

The reenactment followed the formations and positions of all who fought that day. It was like a live game of RISK happening in front of my eyes. Our tickets included entry to museums and monuments in Waterloo, and that's where I learned more about the Battle of 1815 and the Duke of Wellington.

After the battle, we made our way up the Lion's Mound. 
There are 266 steps to the top.

From the top, this is a view of the field where the battle reenactment took place.
And this is a portion of the land where 140,000 soldiers fought in 1815. The rectangular monument in the distance represents Napoleon's camp.

I surprise myself when I say that this was one of the best things I have ever done, and I am not a history or war buff, at ALL! It was just so very interesting.
To learn more about the Battle of Waterloo, I like the BBC British History website, and of course there is always Wikipedia

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