Marking the bicentenary of the battle of Waterloo
“I am often asked whether we should not now, in these days of European unity, forget Waterloo and the battles of the past. My reply is, history cannot be forgotten and we need to be reminded of the bravery of the thousands of men from many nations who fought and died in a few hours on 18th June 1815 and why their gallantry and sacrifice ensured peace in Europe for 50 years” His Grace The Duke of Wellington.
18th June, 1815 marked a defining moment in history, the day that at the Battle of Waterloo Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, in collaboration with Prince Blücher and the Prince of Orange, sealed the fate of Napoleon Bonapart, ending the Napoleonic War and over 20 years of conflict in Europe. This day would bring over 50 years of peace and stability and decide the shape of the European continent for years to come.
The ability to command a broad spectrum of multinational forces behind a common goal was key to the outcome in 1815. June 2015 marks the bicentenary of the battle of Waterloo and the legacy of the commemorations is centred on those intrinsic values of ‘Leadership, Respect, Enterprise and Cooperation’ that ensured a new era in Europe.
“I have been commanded to strike two Medals at the Royal Mint in commemoration of the battles of Les Quatre Bras and Waterloo; One, in gold, of the largest size, to embrace the exploits of the allied army under the Duke of Wellington the Prince of Orange and the Duke of Brunswick, and of the Prussian Army under Field Marshal Blucher. This Medal will probably be given to each of the sovereigns in alliance with the Prince Regent, to their ministers and generals.”
Ten days after the battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington proposed the creation of a commemorative medal. It fell to William Wellesley Pole, Wellington’s own brother to make the Duke’s vision a reality and he immediately commissioned not one, but two, medals. He asked members of the Royal Academy to submit designs for a bronze medal that would be given to all those who had served at Quatre Bras and Ligny and Waterloo, and a gold medal that would go to the Allied sovereigns, their ministers and generals. The medals were to be of the highest artistic merit and Pole invited the Royal Academicians to “show the world that this country is as superior in her taste as she has lately proved herself to be in the skill and valor of her arms.”
The world-renowned engraver, Benedetto Pistrucci, was assigned the task to design it. The result, the famous Waterloo medal, is celebrated not only for its mammoth dimensions, stunning beauty and historical significance, but also for the colourful story surrounding its development. It took Pistrucci more than 30 years to design the medal, but due to the complexity and the vast size of the medal it was never produced.
On 11th November at Apsley House, we will be joined by renowned historian and author, Peter Snow, CBE, along with members of the Pistrucci family, who will bring to life and recall extraordinary facts of the war that changed the future of Europe.
To order a free campaign medal ( postage required) click here: