On the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Andrew Roberts in Smithsonian magazine writes on why Napoleon deserved to lose. But the benefits to European civilization would have been inestimable if Napoleon had defeated Wellington and remained emperor for six more years.
Many across Europe were eager to see the French arrive during the Napoleonic years. Jews, Protestants, and capitalists had a chance to express opinions, to conduct business, and to be pretty much left alone.
The reactionary Holy Alliance of Russia, Prussia and Austria would not have been able to crush liberal constitutionalist movements in Spain, Greece, Eastern Europe and elsewhere; pressure to join France in abolishing slavery in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean would have grown; the benefits of meritocracy over feudalism would have had time to become more widely appreciated; Jews would not have been forced back into their ghettos in the Papal States and made to wear the yellow star again; encouragement of the arts and sciences would have been better understood and copied; and the plans to rebuild Paris would have been implemented, making it the most gorgeous city in the world.
Read more from the WSJ’s Notable & Quotable here.