Plan de la Bataille de Belle Alliance

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Plan de la Bataille de Belle Alliance




This map details the Battle of Waterloo, which happened in 1815. The Battle of Waterloo was the final battle of the Napoleonic Era, which saw almost constant warfare for 15 years between most European countries. At Waterloo, Napoleon, the French Emperor, was defeated by the combined forces of the British under the Duke of Wellington and the Prussians under the command of General Blücher. The map is significant as it details how a large and politically important battle played out. This map details all of the troop positions and movement during the battle, showing how the French attacked the British line but were unable to break through. The armies are all colour coded and have different designations to show the positions of the cavalry, artillery and infantry. Finally, the map shows the topology of the battlefield to help viewers understand why the French attacked the British the way they did, and why the British were deployed there originally.


Jouvenel, J. B.






Eric Znotins


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License


Full-sized digital item can be found in McMaster's Digital Archive at:


sheet 33 x 26 cm.









Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format


Physical Dimensions

1 map : colour ; 27 x 20 cm

Contributor's Research

The research Question I will seek to answer is why the names of the individual commanders of the British battalions are given but not those of the French or Prussians. All three armies were under the command of one general at the Battle of Waterloo; the British under the Duke of Wellington, the French under Napoleon, and the Prussians under the command of General Blücher.
The roles each of these leaders played in their respective armies, as well as the perceptions people had of them explain why only the British Battalions are listed in the map. Given the nature of the Battle of Waterloo, the British battalions were often simply told to hold a position against enormous odds, and it was the commanders of these battalions who ensured this was done (The Battle of Waterloo: The Day That Decided Europe's Fate, n.d.). While Wellington got the credit for winning the battle, the crucial roles played by the leaders of the individual battalions (Douglas, n.d.) ensured that any account of the battle would include them. Furthermore the battle, while significant for the French and Prussians, did not hold as important a place in their national culture. For example, many French view the battle as a draw or simply a small loss in the grand war between Britain and France, meanwhile Waterloo holds a pivotal point in British consciousness (Clarke, 2015). Even now many British people believe that the battle of Waterloo “Decided Europe’s Fate” (The Battle of Waterloo: The Day That Decided Europe's Fate, n.d.). As such, the battle attained almost folk status in British culture and this ensured that every soldier that participated would be lauded as a hero and as such more attention would be paid to the battalion commanders, as they deserved some credit for this massive victory. There is a large focus on the individual actions of the soldiers in British media such as the defense of Hougoument, which are lacking in the attacks of the individual French and Prussian soldiers (The Battle of Waterloo: The Day That Decided Europe's Fate, n.d.). As Wellington remarked after the battle, “There is plenty of glory to go around (Douglas, n.d.)”
The Prussians’ success was contributed to Blücher, as he had promised Wellington that he would come aid him in the battle (Clarke, 2015). He was one of the most famous generals in the Prussian army, being only 2 generals out of 143 who were not demoted or killed during the Napoleonic wars, and as such was greatly respected by his allies and feared by his enemies (Henderson, 1911). Napoleon had defeated him at Lingy, a few days earlier and it was Blücher who led a forced march through the night in order to help Wellington at Waterloo. He arrived on the battle when the British were in danger of losing, and helped to divert the attention of the French as well as help pressure their unguarded flanks which meant that Napoleon could not send in his reserves to crush the struggling British in the middle (Douglas, n.d.). Thus, the actions of his brigade commanders, while they played an important role, were not responsible for the Allied Victory but rather the decision of Blücher to come to the battle was the critical Prussians decision and as such only he appears on the map.
Finally, there are two likely reasons to explain why none of the French Brigades appear on the map. The first reason can be inferred from the legend, which has a large focus on where Napoleon was during the battle. Napoleon was by far the most famous general in Europe, and as such came under the most scrutiny during a battle. The general public did not want to hear about how the French Battalion Captains fared, they wanted only to hear about what happened to Napoleon. Furthermore the French battalion commanders had much less success than their British counterparts, hence there was not the same mystique surrounding their individual actions. This ties into the second reason why the French Battalions do not appear on the map; many people tried to paint the battle of Waterloo as a victory against Napoleon rather than France (Napoleon Defeated at Waterloo, n.d.). He had controlled most of Europe and had seemed unbeatable in battle, the Battle of Waterloo changed that, breaking the mystique surrounding him as an invincible commander. As such, there was a large effort to portray him as the sole commander of the French at Waterloo so that the defeat would damage his legacy and cement that of the British and German troops.

""The Battle of Waterloo: The Day That Decided Europe's Fate."" BBC News. BBC. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. <>.

Clarke, Stephen. ""How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did)."" The Spectator. 13 June 2015. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. <>

Douglas, Allan. ""Waterloo - Bias, Assumptions and Perspectives."" The Napoleon. Fondation Napoleon. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. <>.

Henderson, Ernest F. Blücher and the Uprising of Prussia against Napoleon, 1806-1815. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1911. Print.

""Napoleon Defeated at Waterloo."" A&E Television Networks. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. <>."


Jouvenel, J. B., “Plan de la Bataille de Belle Alliance,” Omeka Testbed, accessed September 26, 2017,