Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Hundred Days

In France, the Bourbons had returned to power in the person of Louis XVIII, brother of the guillotined Louis XVI. The Congress of Vienna was haggling over the reorganization of Europe. Dissatisfaction with the rule of the Bourbons was increasing as they raised taxes and dismissed thousands of persons from the army and administration. Many people feared that followers of the Bourbons were becoming powerful enough to regain the old privileges of the aristocracy at the expense of the liberties the people had gained by the revolution.
Napoleon was informed of all this. To him France seemed to be in as bad condition as it had been under the Directory. He remembered his return from Egypt in 1799. So again he returned. Leaving Elba on February 26, 1815, he landed in France near Antibes on March 1. He had only a few followers when he landed, but before he reached Paris on March 20 regiment after regiment of the French army had rallied to his standard. Louis XVIII fled the capital.
Always ready to adapt himself to conditions as he found them, Napoleon proposed peace. The other European powers, however, could not tolerate his return to power. The allies assembled troops in Belgium and Napoleon hoped to defeat them before they could form a single, united force. His plan failed, and at Waterloo, Belgium, on June 18, 1815, he was soundly beaten by troops under the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Blücher.
Napoleon returned to Paris, and on June 22, 1815, he signed his second abdication in favor of his son. (The son was proclaimed Napoleon II but never reigned.) Louis XVIII returned to France on June 28–100 days after Napoleon had arrived in Paris from Elba.

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