Waterloo, we were defeated, they won the war

LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
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Napoléon Bonaparte was 5ft 6ins in height. Wee man syndrome. And so on, except...

The average height of an adult male around the time of Emperor Napoléon I was 5ft 5ins.

Which leaves us where, exactly? Blindsided to this day by British propaganda of the day which drummed into the public mind that Old Boney was a petite 5ft 2ins.

Still, this is all in keeping with a general popular ignorance – and I include myself in that thick-witted mob – in regard of this titanic figure in modern European history.

Which is no accident, any more than it is an accident our glorious English Revolution has, in the years post-restoration, been re-badged as a Civil War (despite the fact there were fewer active combatants, in total, per head of population, than in Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles).

Well, the one thing our landed rulers do not want on the history books is a successful revolution.

Giving the rabble ideas...

Whatever, seeing Prince Charles, sundry Euro Royals and blueblood toadies Cameron and Johnson off praying in Belgium to celebrate 200 years since Waterloo, called to mind one of Napoléon’s most fascinating – and well authenticated – quotes.

Asked, shortly after beginning his exile on St Helena, what fate would have befallen these islands had the mercenary army hired by the Kings and Queens of Europe not stopped his revolutionary army on June 18, 1815, the Little (although now we know that is not true) General replied: “I would have proclaimed a republic and the abolition of the nobility and the House of Peers, the distribution of the property of such of the latter as opposed me amongst my partisans, liberty, equality and the sovereignty of the people.”

Alas, defeat ushered in an era of regression. Royals kicked away from troughs across the Continent scuttered back on gilded trotters, to enjoy a golden age which ended in the slaughterhouse of the First World War, when they dragged the planet into their inbred feuding.

That is what the assorted nobs and bigwigs were celebrating last Thursday, and if you joined them it is likely you are either a reflex patriot or a dolt, two groups I find it increasingly hard to tell apart.

Waterloo was a victory for the ancient bloodlines and birthright over modernity, a defeat felt most acutely in Britain to this very day.

Vive la République.