The 45-year-old Napoleon, who had some 93,000 troops, hoped to defeat the Duke of Wellington, who was also 45, before the British forces could unite with the Prussian forces under Field Marshal Bluecher.
The battle began around 8am. The Prussians arrived around 4pm, sealing Napoleon’s fate. The winners redrew Europe and the continent experienced almost a century of relative peace until World War I.
Today, Waterloo is cashing in. Shops around the Brussels suburb, including the local cinema and supermarket, bookshops, and cafes, are full of Waterloo paraphernalia.
Meanwhile the tiny Island of St Helena in the South Atlantic – scene of Napoleon’s second and final exile – was promoting holidays and its new runway, which opens next year.