Homage to Napoleon

The month of May marks the 197th anniversary of Napoleon’s death and an opportunity to look at a hidden gem in the Royal Armouries collection. In this blog post, Shannon Kee, placement student at the Royal Armouries Museum, explores the elaborately decorated percussion double-barrelled shotgun, which commemorates the return of Napoleon’s body to France in 1841 and pays homage to his lifetime and legacy. After his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo Napoleon was exiled to the small island of St. Helena in theRead more

William Siborne the challenges of research

William Siborne, maker of the Royal Armouries ‘Battle of Waterloo’ diorama, played a major role in our understanding of the battle and left a lasting legacy of his work. For an introduction to the man and the model, make sure you first read our previous post here. When Siborne began to look for information on the crisis of the battle to assist in the construction of his first model, he found that the official records lacked the level of detailRead more

The retreat to Quatre Bras

On the morning of 17 June the Anglo-Dutch army began its retreat from Quatre Bras toward Waterloo, covered by the British cavalry and guns which delayed the French pursuit at every opportunity. The Light Cavalry Brigades under the command of Vivian and Vandeleur formed the left column of the rear guard as it marched northwards, heading for the narrow bridge over the river Dyle at Thuy. The last of Vivian’s Brigade had crossed the bridge, and as the French cavalryRead more

Wellington’s March from Quatre Bras to Waterloo

‘Napoleon has humbugged me, by God…. I have made arrangements to meet him at Quatre Bras, and if I find myself not strong enough to stop him there, I shall fall back towards Blücher and fight him there.’                                                                                           – The Duke of Wellington Vital to both sides, the crossroads at Quatre Bras would have allowed Wellington to advance towards his Prussian allies at Ligny. This combined force would have outnumbered the French. However, Napoleon’s plan was to divide theRead more

The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball

The Duchess of Richmond’s ball has become a romanticised element of the Waterloo myth, where all the ‘immediate’ drama of the Battle of Waterloo began. It was held on June 15th (1815), the night before the Battle of Quatre Bras. The Duchess Charlotte was married to Charles Lennox the 4th Duke of Richmond, and the Duke and his 15 year old son (Charles Lennox, Earl of March, ADC to the Prince of Orange) were present at Waterloo on 18 June. Brussels wasRead more

Model Maker and Historian

William Siborne has played a major role in our understanding of the battle of Waterloo , and has left a lasting legacy of his work in the form of two large models, a collection of letters containing the eyewitness accounts of Waterloo veterans, and a History of the War in France and Belgium in 1815 that has remained in print for almost 170 years. But Siborne’s skills as a model maker are largely unappreciated, and his work as a historianRead more