The Experience of Demobilization: War Veterans in the Central European Armies and Societies after 1815

  • Leighton S. James
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)


On 18 June 1815 the final act of the Napoleonic Wars was played on the field at Waterloo. In the hard-fought battle Napoleon’s bid to restore himself to power was foiled by Coalition forces under the command of Wellington and Blücher. Victory cemented Wellington’s place within the pantheon of British military heroes, while Waterloo became a key lieu de mémoire for British memories of the Napoleonic Wars. It was folded into a triumphalist British narrative in which French attempts to dominate Europe were halted once and for all, allowing Britain to concentrate on its maritime empire. The battlefield quickly developed into a tourist attraction. Early visitors were drawn from the British elite, but mass tourism in the later nineteenth century allowed working-class men and women to visit the battlefield. Tourism and the market in relics, both real and fake, ensured the battle’s place in British cultural memory.


Military Service German State Military Establishment German Central Military Culture 
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© Leighton S. James 2016

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