Napoleon’s bi-centenary

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Affiche_lessoeursdeNapoleonFMJan Napoleon BonaparteThis year sees the anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon. Yes, I know the Battle of Waterloo wasn’t until 1815 but in 1814 he was defeated and exiled to Elba. Although he escaped and returned to bring fear about a renewed Napoleonic empire his stay was short-lived

So the events of 1814 are being remembered by a number of French cities. In Champagne-Ardenne, for example, they are remembering that after Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Leipzig, he retreated to this area to make a last stand. They have launched a programme of events this year to commemorate the fact. This period of battle, in and around the Aube region, became known as The French Campaign. Napoleon conceded defeat at Fontainebleau in April 1814 and was exiled to Elba.

A calendar of events throughout the region follows in the footsteps of the leaders of the Emperor’s armed forces with reconstructed camps and large scale battle re-enactments, exhibitions, concerts, tours and live entertainment in Châlons-en-Champagne, Reims Chaumont , Montmirail, Brienne-le-Château (young Bonaparte attended military school here, it is now a Napoleonic museum due to re-open this summer after refurbishment), Saint-Dizier and Nogent-sur-Seine.

There is the Tinqueux Festival in early April remembering the Battle of Reims ( where Napoloeon defeated a coalition army quite easily) with camps, bands, exhibitions, two battle re-enactments and demonstrations of military strategy, parades, light and sound show.

In mid-May at Brienne-le-Château more than 300 re-enactors will met to stage a battle re-enactment of the capture of the castle of Brienne and there will be, war game demonstrations , a parade, children’s games, and an evening show outlining the First and Second Empires ( 17 May ) plus re-opening of the Napoleonic Museum.
The largest event will be held at the end of May where there will be a large scale re-enactment of the Battle of Montmirail -Marchais 1814 which was one of the most important battles of the Campaign.  More than 1,000 soldiers & cavalry will take part with rallies, cavalry charges , artillery, a field hospital and regimental parades.
The full program of commemorative events can be downloaded from the website by clicking here.

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