This month witnessed the 202nd Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. There was little fanfare, and almost no media coverage. Yet events up and down the country were still taking place. Southampton University, for example, held a special course to celebrate the battle, and over in Belgium, the customary annual re-enactment took place on the battlefield. With the passing of time, these major historical events, which played such a pivotal role in the history of both Europe and the wider world are easy to forget. In the video below, I reflect on Waterloo, its significance, and the factors which I believe have influenced our perceptions of the momentous battle.
There are some points to raise here. I'm not simply suggesting that Waterloo is important because it is the last major battle of the Napoleonic Wars. Instead, my argument is that the story behind Waterloo easily captures the public's imagination. If you were to write a story, you would want the two main protagonists to meet in one final titanic struggle, and in many ways Waterloo matches that description.
I also think it is important to point out that caricatures were not the same as cartoons in modern day newspapers. Although they were satirical, they were more like satirical paintings than the tabloid cartoons that we see today. People kept them in collections to view at their leisure. Since caricatures were free from the bias of any newspaper editor, they therefore reflect the public mood much better. This is a simple result of the fact that these caricatures were created to make profit, and therefore artists were more likely to show the public what they wanted to hear.