The Napoleonic Wars – A Brief History


What were the Napoleonic Wars?

The Napoleonic Wars were a series of conflicts fought between various European alliances and coalitions while Napoleon Bonaparte was the ruler of France. These wars spanned the European continent from Spain to Moscow by land, and across the known world by sea. They have been portrayed in filmsgames and literature (see War and Peace review and debate).


Who fought in the Napoleonic Wars?

The Napoleonic Wars were fought between France, Great Britain, Austria, Russia, Spain, Prussia, other Germanic nations and many other smaller parties or countries with a lesser involvement.


Who were France’s allies in the Napoleonic Wars?







-Ottoman Empire


Who did France fight against in the Napoleonic Wars?

-Great Britain








Important notice: the above are not complete lists. Numerous smaller nations were pulled into the conflict and countries often changed sides.



Battles of the Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of Trafalgar. This was a large naval battle which occurred at the start of the Napoleonic Wars. It was fought between Great Britain under Horatio Nelson and an alliance between France and Spain under Pierre-Charles Villeneuve. It was a crucial victory for Great Britain which gave them naval superiority and ended plans for a French invasion of Britain.

The Battle of Austerlitz. Also known as the ‘Battle of the Three Emperors’, the Battle of Austerlitz was a land battle fought by France under Napoleon against a Russian and Austrian alliance. The Russian force was led by Tsar Alexander I and Mikhail Kutuzov, while the Austrian forces were commanded by Emperor Francis II. The combined Russian and Austrian armies were defeated and forced to retreat. This French military victory led to the collapse of the Third Coalition.

The Battles of Jena and Auerstadt. These battles saw the French Empire win victories of two Prussian armies during the same day. Napoleon led the victorious French army at Jena, while Davout led another French army at Auerstadt. As a result of these victories, Napoleon’s armies captured Berlin and pushed Prussia out of the Fourth Coalition.

The Battle of Borodino. This battle was fought between Napoleon’s French invasion force and Kutuzov’s Russian army. It is debatable which side won the battle, as the French captured the main positions on the battlefield but the Russian army was able to withdraw without being destroyed. The Battle of Borodino led to the capture of Moscow by the French. However, it may have also caused the eventual destruction of Napoleon’s army.

The Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon led the French army in this battle which took place in present-day Belgium. The French faced a combined British, Prussian, Dutch, Hannoverian, Nassau and Brunswick force. The British army and its smaller allies were commanded by the Duke of Wellington, Sir Arthur Wellesley, while the Prussian army was led by Gebhard von Blucher. The British and allied army was able to hold off the French forces until the Prussian army arrived to attack Napoleon’;s army in its flank. The British, Prussian and allied victory ended the Napoleonic Wars. It also led to the exile of Napoleon and the end of his French Empire.

Battle of Waterloo



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Joe Malpas

  1. Gerald said:

    Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

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