Two Library Exhibits Explore the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

Napolean ExhibitsIn 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Corsican general who had, eleven years prior, declared himself Emperor of France, escaped his island prison of Elba to resume his campaign to expand the borders of the French Empire. He had been exiled the year before for waging a series of brutal wars against the countries of Europe in a failed bid to unite the continent under the Tricolore. Napoleon’s Hundred Days, as this time was later to be called, ended in Belgium at the Battle of Waterloo.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, the John T. Richardson Library has mounted two exhibits exploring this watershed moment in European history,Before Waterloo: Imminent Danger and Waterloo at 200.

Before Waterloo: Imminent Danger

Before the British acted in the mighty coalition that ultimately defeated Napoleon’s forces, his threats of a land invasion upon an unprepared English populace loomed. DePaul Special Collections and Archives is hosting the exhibit, Before Waterloo: Imminent Danger.

Before Waterloo looks at the political and public mobilizations through a combination of diplomatic tracts and a flurry of propaganda in the form of broadsides, pamphlets, newspapers, satires, poems, and songs that emphatically demonize Napoleon as a “Corsican devil,” a “tyrant” and a “usurper.” Taken together, these various publications successfully galvanized the British to support preparations for war that included the unprecedented recruitment of upwards of 350,000 citizen volunteers prepared for self-defense.

Before Waterloo: Imminent Danger is currently on exhibit in the DePaul Special Collections and Archives on the John T. Richardson Library 3rd floor, room 314.

Waterloo at 200

Waterloo at 200 explores the Battle of Waterloo itself. From battle plans and artistic renderings to novels, postcards, and pamphlets, this visual panoply offers a rich portrayal of the battle, its generals, and its influence in popular culture. The exhibit illustrates just how all-encompassing Waterloo’s legacy has been from the early 19th century to the present day, and how the battle has captivated public imagination over two centuries. The exhibit features materials held in both the DePaul Special Collections and Archives and DePaul University Library’s circulating book collection.

Waterloo at 200 is currently on exhibit in the John T. Richardson Library 1st floor Information Commons and will run through the end of Spring Quarter 2015. A digital version can be found at


DePaul University Library’s Special Collections and Archives currently holds approximately 4,500 books, pamphlets, broadsides, maps, and ephemera items related to Napoleon and the French Revolution. A selection of broadsides and pamphlets has been digitized and can be accessed as part of the library’s Digital Collections.

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