met ones waterloo

Waterloo in popular culture

Because of its pivotal role in European and world history the Battle of Waterloo has a prominent place in military history and is frequently mentioned in popular culture. Here are some examples:

Commemorative memorials and places

For a comprehensive list of places named Waterloo see Waterloo: Places.

There are many memorials and places named after the battle, perhaps the most famous is Waterloo station in London. In the 1990s, after Waterloo station was chosen as the British terminus for the Eurostar train service, Florent Longuepée, a municipal councillor in Paris, wrote to the British Prime Minister requesting that the station be renamed, because he said it was upsetting for the French to be reminded of Napoleon's defeat when they arrived in London by Eurostar.


Non Fiction

  • Creasy, Edward Shepherd. The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. The battle of Waterloo is the final battle listed. Fiction
  • Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a fantasy novel in which the battle of Waterloo is described from the point of view of a magician who aids the Duke of Wellington. For example, it is thanks to the magician's weather control that heavy rain falls before the battle, aiding the Coalition forces.
  • Cornwell, Bernard. Sharpe's Waterloo or Waterloo: Sharpe's Final Adventure Campaign is a novel which sets Cornwell's fictional hero Richard Sharpe at the battle on the staff of the non-fictional Prince of Orange. The book was later adapted for television by the ITV and starred Sean Bean as Sharpe.
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan The Adventures of Gerard (1903). This novel contains a chapter "How the Brigadier Bore Himself at Waterloo", about his fictional hero Brigadier Etienne Gerard. The chapter consists of two short stories which were originally published separately. Project Gutenberg: The Adventures of Gerard (Audio Book)
  • Goscinny, René (stories) and Uderzo, Albert (illustrations). Asterix in Belgium. The entire battle between Julius Caesar and the Belgians in Asterix in Belgium is a parody of the battle of Waterloo. The arrival of Caesar and his troops resembles a similar painting depicting Napoleon and his army. In the French version the text which accompanies the battle on paper is a parody on Victor Hugo's poem about the Battle of Waterloo. Asterix, Obelix and Vitalstatistix lead a surprise attack on Caesar's troops just when the Romans seem to win the battle. This is of course, exactly what happened to Napoleon in Waterloo.
  • Heyer, Georgette. An Infamous Army. This novel details the battle (and the days leading up to it) as seen through the eyes of a fictional officer. Heyer consulted both primary and secondary sources,and produced a work of such insight and accuracy it has been used in military history lectures at Sandhurst.
  • Hugo, Victor Les Misérables (Gutenberg: Les Miserables: Text, HTML) As a sort of interlude in his "Les Miserables" after Jean Valjean's arrival in Paris but before the introduction of Marius, Victor Hugo recounts his visit to the battlefield in 1861 and recites his version of the battle.
  • Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle). The Charterhouse of Parma
  • Thackeray, William Makepeace; Vanity Fair (1848), This novel contains several chapters revolving around the events at Waterloo.
  • Willis, Connie To Say Nothing of the Dog: the Battle of Waterloo is used as a reference point to model how reality is believed to adjust to neutralize the effects of a Temporal paradox. There are so many critical turning points in the battle, it's explained, that a time traveler would have many opportunities to affect the outcome. Oddly - whether by accident or design - Willis consistently refers to the battle as taking place on 18 June 1814, precisely one year earlier than it did.

Films and television

Interactive media

  • The final mission of Starcraft's Brood War expansion, "Omega" is a scenario similar to Waterloo, except the forces in the position similar to Napoleon emerge victorious.
  • In the video game Psychonauts, Fred Bonaparte, an insane asylum employee turned inmate and descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte, loses his sanity after continuously losing a game of "Waterloo" with a patient, Crispin Whytehead, and develops a split personality between himself and his forefather.
  • In the computer game Empire Earth, the Battle of Waterloo is the last mission of the English campaign.

Battle of Waterloo simulators

There are two simulators on the internet, one at , and one at the BBC online it is generally considered that the PBS edition is superior because in the BBC version people can memorize the steps to win the game, and there are only two outcomes - Napoleon wins or Napoleon loses. In the PBS version, there are seven possible outcomes, varying from complete Coalition victory (Napoleon dies on the battlefield) to early French major victory (Napoleon crushes Wellington before Blucher arrives, and when Blucher arrives Napoleon crushes him as well. After that, with two Coalition allies knocked out of the war, Russia and Austria sign peace treaties with France. Note, the second part about Napoleon crushing Blucher is not shown on the simulator, but a player with this outcome receives a message that Blucher was defeated after Wellington was defeated.)


Waterloo, Waterloo
Where will you meet your Waterloo?
Every puppy has its day
Everybody has to pay
Everybody has to meet his Waterloo.

And the last verse ends:

And that's how Tom Dooley met his Waterloo.

Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is The Battle of Waterloo.
Beside it The Wreck of the Hesperus too.
And proudly above waves the red, white, and blue.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!

  • "You're My Waterloo" is an unreleased song by The Libertines.
  • "Waterloo to Anywhere" is the debut album by Dirty Pretty Things, though this is more likely a reference to the London railway station.
  • La Belle Alliance is an alternative electronic band from Cork, Ireland named after the Inn which served as Napoleon's headquarters during the battle of Waterloo.
  • The Irish singer-songwriter Percy French's song Slattery's Mounted Fut opens with a satirical comparison between Waterloo and an Irish rebel group:

You've heard of Julius Caesar and the great Napoleon too,
And how the Cork Militia beat the Turks at Waterloo;
But there's a page of glory that, as yet, remains uncut,
And that's the warlike story of the Slattery Mounted Fut.


  • The phrase to meet one's Waterloo (or similar) has entered the English language as a word signifying a great test with a final and decisive outcome- usually a negative one, in recognition of Napoleon's defeat.
  • The Waterloo Medal was issued to all ranks of the British Army who participated, including supposedly a baby born on the field to one unit's auxiliary woman aide. It was one of the first general medals issued. One can be seen with Wellington's uniform in the basement at Apsley House.
  • When French President Jacques Chirac visited the UK to celebrate the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, the Waterloo Room in Windsor Castle was renamed the Music Room, and then renamed the Waterloo Room following Chirac's departure.
  • The famous quote attributed to Wellington "The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton" was probably apocryphal. Unlike his older brother, Wellington was not an academic success at Eton; on one of his rare visits back there, the only athletic activities he could remember were skipping across a brook, and fisticuffs with a fellow student. See also Wikiquote

External links

Reenactment societies


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