Bicentenary of Battle of Waterloo marked in Belgium
PR dla Zagranicy
Commemorations are being held in Belgium on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, the landmark clash of 18 June 1815 that marked the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Charles Wellesley, 9th Duke of Wellington, Prince Charles Napoleon and Prince Blucher von Wahlstatt visit Hougoumont Farm where on 18 June 1815 British and other allied forces faced Napoleon's Army during the Battle of Waterloo in Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium.EPA/GEERT VANDEN WIJGAERTS
Bonaparte's defeat in Belgium was a nail in the coffin for Polish hopes of resurgence, which were bolstered when the Corsican-born French leader agreed to create the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807.
The duchy was created from lands lost to Prussia as a result of the dismemberment of Poland by Prussia, Russia and Austria from 1772 to 1995.
Poles flocked to fight for Napoleon, and losses were particularly severe in the 1812 campaign. Of the 98,000 Poles that set off on the Russian campaign – which Napoleon dubbed his 'second Polish war' – only 26,000 returned.
When Napoleon was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba in April 1814, he was permitted to be accompanied by a squadron of his esteemed Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard.
He escaped with the Poles, who served during 'The Hundred Days' that marked his return to France on 20 March 1815 until his ultimate defeat at Waterloo.
Bonaparte's defeat was secured owing to the combined actions of an Anglo-Allied army commanded by the first Duke of Wellington and a Prussian army led by Prince Blucher.
The English commander's direct descendant, the 9th duke, joined the current Prince Blucher at Waterloo on Wednesday (pictured above), together with Prince Charles Napoleon, the latter considered to be the head of the house of Bonaparte (Napoleon I has no direct descendants). The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall also took part in tributes.
This weekend, large scale reenactments of the battle will be held at Waterloo, involving thousands of volunteers. (nh)
See also: Marshal Józef Poniatowski: Poland's most illustrious soldier of the Napoleonic Wars