Waterloo 1815 - 2015 Europe Challenged
The Battle of Waterloo, on June 18, 1815, marks the end of the Napoleonic empire. The obstinacy of the warriors, the fierceness of the fights and the concentration of men on a small terrain kindle the imagination of its witnesses. Napoleon’s return to France after his banishment hastens negotiations at the Vienna Congress and a treaty is signed one week before the emperor’s defeat at Waterloo. Two visions on Europe clearly collide.
For the double bicentenary the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History in Brussels puts its collections on the subject centre stage. The project consists of two complementary segments.
The first focuses on war tourism and presents part of the Cotton collection (these are items belonging to sergeant-major Cotton of the English Hussars, veteran of the Duke of Wellington’s army and later guide on the former battlefield) on the exact location of the building Cotton once occupied. The second part of the projects is set up in the Military Museum’s arcades in the Jubilee Park, a major tourist attraction.
"Waterloo 1815-2015. Europe challenged" wishes to highlight the conflicts that unsettled Europe, particularly those that involved present-day Belgium’s neighbours. Through its incomparable collections the Royal Military Museum is able to present a unique variety of exceptional pieces.
The exhibition concentrates on the battlefield, on the impression it made on artists, on what it once was and on what it is today. It also traces the story of Belgians present in Waterloo in 1815 and who fought one another in opposing camps. A museum exists through its heritage: the object is so much more than a mere illustration of the historic tale; the object is the museum’s main raison d’ê‚tre. From rusty artefact to magnificent uniform, sacredly safeguarded or (un)voluntarily transformed, the pieces bear the stamp of those who have used, kept, restored and transmitted them. We hope that this catalogue will help the public to cherish them.
Piet De Gryse and Christine Van Everbroeck
Royal Museum of the Armed Forces
and of Military History