Sunday, April 26, 2015

What if… the French had won at the Battle of Waterloo?

As a history aficionado, I find myself constantly asking what if…
  • Horatio Gates had been put in charge of the Continental Army instead of George Washington?
  • Ferdinand and Isabella had not started the Inquisition? Or agreed to finance Columbus's trip to the "Indies."
  • Princess Diana had not died and could hold her grandchildren in her arms?
  • Elizabeth I was actually a man impersonating her? (Okay, this may sound absurd, but it could explain a few things.)
  • Princess Charlotte of Wales and her child had not died and instead both lived to reign over England? No Queen Victoria? No Elizabeth II?
  • Even better: What if the oldest son of Henry VII had lived and Henry VIII had never been anything but a younger son? Would England still be Roman Catholic? How many people would still have their heads upon their shoulders?
So when the time came to put together a Rafflecopter for our Waterloo-themed anthology, Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles, I asked participants to answer a special "what-if" question:

What do you think would have happened had Napoleon's Grand Armée won the day on June 18, 1815?

And here are some of the answers:
  • If Napoleon had won that day he would have continued to expand his territory. He was so focused and determined - I believe he would have continued to try to conquer new lands until he was killed or died.
  • More people would have died. 
  • I think fighting would have continued until Napoleon was eventually defeated.
  • Just my opinion, but I doubt it mattered. By the time of Waterloo, France was not recovered and the Allies were determined. There might have been a much longer war, but Waterloo would have been just another battle.
  • More turmoil.
  • If Napoleon’s armée had won that day it would be such a different world now. Europe would have had a different structure and people would not have been allowed to be free and for people to explore their creativity. Would the Eiffel tower or the Statue of Liberty be in existence?
  • We would all be speaking French!
  • Somehow, I don’t think it would have been a lasting victory. Someone would have waited for him around the corner, so to speak. In terms of language, it wouldn’t have changed anything for me as French is my native tongue. :)
  • I think we’d all be speaking much better French and drinking champagne.
  • In the short term more people would have died but in the long term I don’t think he would have lasted and in the grand scheme of things wouldn’t have changed much beyond what actually happened. Maybe history would have been affected depending on who may have been one of the future deaths if someone really important in future history died.
  • Also don’t think he would have lasted much longer. He was just too ambitious for his own good and was making more enemies than friends.
  • Us short people would be appreciated a heck of a lot more!!!
  • Well, there wouldn’t be a Regency nor anything to do with this time. Everything will be backwards and although we’ll be speaking the lovely language of France, our own knowledge of history would be false.
  • It would have made little difference. He was so crazy his supporters would eventually have done him in.
  • It wouldn’t have mattered. He was so crazy his supporters would have eventually done him in.
  • Ah! We will never know!
  • If he had won, I don’t think it would’ve been a lasting victory. The world at the time saw the danger he presented and would’ve immediately begun to bring him down. Alliances would’ve formed with nations who you never would’ve thought would come together, just like France did for America during the American Revolution.
  • I’m not up on my Napoleonic history, but Napoleon or someone would have thrown a ball or other party if they had won.
The general view seems to be that Napoleon was pretty much burned out by then, in spite of his triumphant escape from Elba. But the Duke of Wellington himself said it was "a very close-run thing." And frankly, trying to put together an alternative past is pretty much an impossible task. In Outlander, Jamie and Claire try to stop the massacre of Culloden and fail miserably. (Yes, I do know that's fiction…most of the time anyway.)

My experience tells me that reality is rarely black or white, though. Villains aren't usually all bad, nor are heroes as lily-white as Sir Lancelot was (in the beginning). It does make me wonder if certain events just meant to be or they just are and things just sort themselves out. Am I making any sense?

Do you ever wonder about these things? I'd love to hear your what-ifs if you have any.

Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles: 
A Celebration of Waterloo

June 18, 1815 was the day Napoleon Bonaparte's Grande Armée was definitively routed by the ragtag band of soldiers from the Duke of Wellington's Allied Army in a little Belgian town called Waterloo. The cost in men's lives was high—22,000 dead or wounded for the Allied Army and 24,000 for the French. But the war with Napoleon that had dragged on for a dozen years was over for good, and the British people once more felt secure on their island shores.

The bicentenary of the famous battle seemed like an excellent opportunity to use that setting for a story, and before I knew it, I had eight other authors eager to join me, and to make a long story short, on April 1, 2015 our Waterloo-themed anthology was released to the world.

You are all invited to visit our Website and Facebook Page.

Our Stories

Jillian Chantal: Jeremiah’s Charge

Emmaline Rothesay has her eye on Jeremiah Denby as a potential suitor. When Captain Denby experiences a life-altering incident during the course of events surrounding the Battle of Waterloo, it throws a damper on Emmaline’s plans.

Téa Cooper: The Caper Merchant

The moon in Gemini is a fertile field of dreams, ideas and adventure and Pandora Wellingham is more than ready to spread her wings. When Monsieur Cagneaux, caper merchant to the rich and famous, introduces her to the handsome dragoon she believes her stars have aligned.

Susana Ellis: Lost and Found Lady

Catalina and Rupert fell in love in Spain in the aftermath of a battle, only to be separated by circumstances. Years later, they find each other again, just as another battle is brewing, but is it too late?

Aileen Fish: Captain Lumley’s Angel

Charged with the duty of keeping his friend’s widow safe, Captain Sam Lumley watches over Ellen Staverton as she recovers from her loss, growing fonder of her as each month passes. When Ellen takes a position as a companion, Sam must confront his feelings before she’s completely gone from his life.

Victoria Hinshaw: Folie Bleue

On the night of the 30th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Aimée, Lady Prescott, reminisces about meeting her husband in Bruxelles on the eve of the fighting. She had avoided the dashing scarlet-clad British officers, but she could not resist the tempting smile and spellbinding charm of Captain Robert Prescott of the 16th Light Dragoons who— dangerously to Aimée— wore blue.

Heather King: Copenhagen’s Last Charge

When Meg Lacy finds herself riding through the streets of Brussels only hours after the Battle of Waterloo, romance is the last thing on her mind, especially with surly Lieutenant James Cooper. However, their bickering uncovers a strange empathy – until, that is, the lieutenant makes a grave error of judgment that jeopardizes their budding friendship...

Christa Paige: One Last Kiss

The moment Colin held Beatrice in his arms he wanted one last kiss to take with him into battle and an uncertain future. Despite the threat of a soldier’s death, he must survive, for he promises to return to her because one kiss from Beatrice would never be enough.

Sophia Strathmore: A Soldier Lay Dying

Amelia and Anne Evans find themselves orphaned when their father, General Evans, dies. With no other options available, Amelia accepts the deathbed proposal of Oliver Brighton, Earl of Montford, a long time family friend. When Lord Montford recovers from his battle wounds, can the two find lasting love?

David W. Wilkin: Not a Close Run Thing at All

Years, a decade. And now, Robert had come back into her life. Shortly before battle was to bring together more than three hundred thousand soldiers. They had but moments after all those years, and now, would they have any more after?

About the Author

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. Voracious reading led to a passion for writing, and her fascination with romance and people of the past landed her firmly in the field of historical romance.

A teacher in her former life, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.


Tina Donahue said...

Fascinating post, Susana :)

jean hart stewart said...

Love that time period and have written about the year of Waterloo several times. It holds a constant fascination for me.