Hundred Days (history)

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For other uses, see The Hundred Days (disambiguation).

The Hundred Days was the name given to the period between Napoleon's return to France from exile in Elba in March 1815 and his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18 1815. Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island of Elba following the Allied invasion of France and his abdication in 1814. In France the Bourbon dynasty was restored and King Louis XVIII returned from exile. The Allies, then convened the Congress of Vienna to settle the future of Europe. The dissension that was caused between the Allies led Napoleon to believe that he could regain the throne of France. He managed to escape from Elba and landed in France on March 1 1815. He marched towards Paris gathering men from the veterans of the Grande Armée. Regiments of the royalist army also changed sides and joined Napoleon. He reached Paris on March 20, 1815 to find the king had abandoned his capital and gone into exile again.

Despite their disputes in Viena, the Allied governments declared Napoleon to be an outlaw and started mobilising their forces to attack France. The principal armies were the British under the Duke of Wellington based in the Netherlands and the Prussians. The Russians and the Austrians also gathered their forces but were located further east. Other countries, such as Spain, Denmark and Portugal also raised armies but their armies were not directly involved in the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.

Napoleon increased his armies from about a peacetime force of 55,000 men to a force of nearly 200,000. He created an Armée du Nord of about 130,000 men and marched this army north in June 1815 in an attempt to destroy the British and Prussian armies piecemeal before the other Allies could join them to create an invasion force of overwhelming numbers.

Napoleon's armies reached the area near Waterloo on June 15, 1815 and the following three days saw several battles between elements of the British army and separately parts of Blucher's Prussian armies before the final confrontation with Wellington at Waterloo. After a hard day's fighting, Blucher's Prussian army arrived on the field of battle to turn a French defeat into a rout.

Napoleon fled the scene of battle and after a few days of attempting to find a way to escape from France to the United States, he surrendered to the Royal Navy in the shape of Captain Maitland of HMS Bellerophon who took him to England.. From there he was transported directly to St Helena in the south Atlantic Ocean.

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