Waterloo

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, when Napoleon did surrender. You can watch the reenactments live on the Internet for a modest fee. I do not know whether the sides will be designated “France” and “Seventh Coalition,” or simply “Team Red” and “Team Blue,” in the manner of the 200th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Trafalgar ten years ago. After all, we wouldn’t want to raise tensions, now, would we?! I was pleased to note that Belgium, on whose territory the battle took place, would have none of this bowdlerization of history:

Belgium has begun minting €2.50 coins marking the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo after France forced it to scrap a €2 coin with the same purpose.

Paris objected to the new Belgian coin, commemorating the French emperor’s defeat by British and Prussian forces, earlier this year, saying it would create tensions at a time when Europe’s unity is under threat.

Belgium was forced to get rid of about 180,000 €2 coins that had already been minted after Paris sent a letter saying they could cause an “unfavourable reaction in France”.

But Belgium has managed to skirt the French protests using a rule that allows eurozone countries to unilaterally issue coins if they are in an irregular denomination.

Another example of expression being tailored to politics is this series of headlines in the government newspaper, Le Moniteur, which preceded Napoleon’s second seizure of power in 1815. It’s rather amusing:

March 9
The Monster has escaped from his place of banishment.

March 10
The Corsican Orge has landed at Cape Juan

March 11
The Tiger has shown himself at Gap. The Troops are advancing on all sides to arrest his progress. He will conclude his miserable adventure by becoming a wanderer among the mountains.

March 12
The Monster has actually advanced as far as Grenoble

March 13
The Tyrant is now at Lyon. Fear and Terror seized all at his appeaance.

March 18
The Usurper has ventured to approach to within 60 hours’ march of the capital.

March 19
Bonaparte is advancing by forced marches, but it is impossible he can reach Paris.

March 20
Napoleon will arrive under the walls of Paris tomorrow.

March 21
The Emperor Napoleon is at Fountainbleau

March 22
Yesteday evening His Majesty the Emperor made his public entry and arrived at the Tuileries. Nothing can exceed the universal joy.