A Brief History of the Napoleonic Wars
Marcum Gets Her History On
It’s not a secret that I am, at heart, an historian. It was my favorite subject in high school, and then my area of study during college. I’m no longer involved in academia, but that hasn’t dulled my love for the subject. Instead, it’s given me a greater appreciation and a deeper understanding of the books that I read, which are, largely, Regency historical romances.
What does that mean? What’s the Regency? In brief, it’s the period of English history in which George, Prince of Wales, ruled England as proxy for his father, King George III (Mad King George, and the one we Americans declared our independence from. That one.), until the king’s death, when the prince became King George IV. While the Regency technically was only from 1811 to 1820, many consider it to be culturally from 1795 to 1837, when Victoria became queen.
All of this is important to the Napoleonic Wars because they fall squarely within the cultural Regency beginning in 1803, and ended during the actual Regency, in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. Anyway, Waterloo isn’t at issue here today. His Majesty’s Dragon takes place in the very early years of the Napoleonic Wars. For a visual reference, think Horatio Hornblower, especially for the Royal Navy element.
Napoleon came to power in 1799, and the war formally began in May 1803 after Great Britain ended the Treaty of Amiens. Britain created a naval blockade of France; in response, Napoleon enacted economic embargoes against Britain. Despite an effort to break the blockade, Britain persevered, and became the dominating power of the seas. Napoleon, however, conquered first Austria (War of the Third Coalition) and then Prussia (War of the Fourth Coalition), and then defeated Russia in battle, which gave Napoleon power all over Eastern Europe.
Meanwhile, on the Spanish Peninsula, Portugal never agreed to help end Britain’s blockade, and Spain failed to help end the blockage. This triggered the War of the Fifth Coalition, and the Peninsular War. In the middle of all of that, the United States declared war on Great Britain in 1812 in an attempt to break the blockade on the French. That same year, Napoleon invaded Russia because they withdrew from the Continental System — the program that Napoleon used to put those economic embargoes on the British. As you may know, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia did not go well. This signaled the beginning of the end for our friend Napoleon, and he abdicated on April 6, 1814. He was exiled to the island of Elba, and Europe rejoiced!
But wait! This wasn’t the end for old Boney, as those he had conquered affectionately called him. He escaped from Elba and rallied the French people to him. Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, and formally surrendered on July 15. He was then exiled to the island of St. Helena, where he died in 1821.
So that’s the Napoleonic Wars in three paragraphs. There’s so much that I skipped over.
Interestingly, every location mentioned in the book actually exists, from Dover to Cherbourg to Loch Laggen. Oh yes, our favorite training covert is located on an actual lake in Scotland, and the castle that is used because of the geothermal heating actually exists. I know I wouldn’t mind a field trip to visit it!
During our meeting a few other books and series were mentioned, in particular Dragonflight, the first book in the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey; the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell, which is both a book series and TV series starring Sean Bean; and the Horatio Hornblower books and the TV series based on those books. So if you like dragons, head towards the Dragonriders of Pern! If you like historical fiction set during the Napoleonic Wars, head towards Sharpe and Hornblower! If you like both, well. Continue on with the Temeraire series. I’m in the middle of the second book, and I can tell you that it is so, so good.
Our June book is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It is a classic of American Literature and also of Science Fiction, and can be found on the reading lists of high school and college students everywhere. Somehow, I have never read it, and now is the time to rectify this. From the Amazon blurb:
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.
Our next meeting is on June 30, at 1 p.m. It will once again be streamed live on Facebook for anyone who can’t make it, but if you’re in or near Gallipolis, Ohio on that day, stop in and talk books and other geeky, nerdy things with us! Our discussion after the livestream ended spanned dragons, D&D, and more!
To buy Fahrenheit 451 on its own, please follow this link. From there, you can buy it directly from the shop, or follow the Amazon link to buy it — a portion of the sale from Amazon will go to the Rogue Crusade, at no additional cost to you, via the Amazon affiliates program! If you’d like to give the book club a one-time try, you can do so at this link, but why not consider becoming a Rogue Crusade patron at the Loremaster’s Guild level on Patreon? You’ll save $5 if you just do the book club, but there are other levels that get you into things like the Player’s Guild, the Tinker’s Guild, the Storyteller’s Guild, and a few other guilds! It’s definitely worth it, and you get fun updates from the Captain about the dragon she caught a few weeks ago.
As ever, the Tea & Shenanigans Facebook group is alive and kicking. This month we fancast His Majesty’s Dragon. Safe to say that if we were to make this into the TV series it deserves, it would be filled with all of our favorite actors, most of whom are British. If you’re not already a member, come join us! We’re all really nice and we like to talk about books.
Until next month, happy reading!
Captain’s Note: The Rogue Crusade’s Loremaster’s Guild is a super fun “not-so-secret-society” of people near and far who thrive on hot beverages, stories of all kinds, and witty shenanigans! Join us today for $15 a month to get a new fictional tale each month, journal prompts, and other fun challenges at RogueCrusade.Com! – ♥