The Battle of Waterloo happened at a time of incredible upheaval. The French Revolution began in 1789, and revolutionary ideas quickly spread across the world. The French ideals of liberty, fraternity, and equality were seen as a terrible threat by the monarchs and aristocrats of Europe. Even French defeat at Waterloo in 1815 did not end the era of revolutions. Radical demands for change continued throughout the 19th century.
Explore the objects and articles below to learn more about the revolutionary era of Waterloo.
This protest banner was one of many carried to a Reform meeting convened by the Manchester Radical Union at St Peter’s Field in Manchester on 16 August 1819. By mid-afternoon as many as fifteen people, including four women and a child, were either dead or fatally injured. A further 400-700 suffered serious wounds, including Thomas Redford, who carried this banner.
This is the golden snuffbox of Marshal Michel Ney, who was one of the French commanders at the Battle of Waterloo. This snuffbox was presented to Marshal Ney by Napoleon as a mark of affection. It was plundered from Ney’s baggage at the end of the battle, probably by a British soldier. It was later presented to Captain William Cameron of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards.
This model was carved from bone by French prisoners of war, held in Britain during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). It was made as a model to be sold in the prison markets.
Read about the shared tragic destiny of Michel Ney and Charles de la Bédoyère