Okay, so the Napoleonic wars are raging. Many men are dying in Waterloo. It appeared as if the Duke of Wellington and his allied army would prevail, but Napoleon rallied his troops at the last possible minute. They held fast and the Duke suffered many casualties before retreating.

Obviously this didn't happen, but what if it had? I am specifically looking for what might have happened directly (within a year or two afterwards) after the battle had Napoleon won. For now please ignore any reasons that this would not have been possible for him.

Please base your answers off of the condition of France and the rest of the world at the time.

  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Okay, why is the answer not "Napoleon is defeated an hour later in the 2nd Battle of Waterloo, when Blucher's 50,000 Germans arrive"? $\endgroup$
    – Fhnuzoag
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ This happened in blackadder once... youtube.com/watch?v=rzHn2H2V8N4 Watch from 19:15 onwards. $\endgroup$
    – AJF
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ Ummm......luck? Really bad organization on the part of the Germans? IDK. We'll cross that battlefield in about an hour. For now let's assume that either Blucher lost or his army retreated for some reason. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Fhnuzoag ? At least a considerable part of the Prussian forces did participate in Waterloo (Wikipedia says that those 50.000 that you mention). $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ In the actual battle, IIRC, they arrived late to mop up. The question only addresses Wellington. $\endgroup$
    – Fhnuzoag
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 7:49

2 Answers 2


I would say that history would not have changed too much.

Napoleon had alienated most of Kings of Europe, either by becoming King despite his humble origins1 or by invading/breaking all of major nations of Europe2. Remember that at his fall, he was fighting against Russia, Prussia, Austria, England and Spain.

Additionally, after twenty years of war, France was depleted of military manpower. I read some comments stating that some of the French troops at Waterloo were so young and hastily sent to the front lines, that they barely knew how to load their weapons.

Had he won at Waterloo, after a year or two the coalition would have arrayed new armies and would have pushed Napoleon out of power again, even if only by sheer numbers.

The possible side effects could have been greatest Russian and Austrian influence (since their troops would have been needed again), and less British influence in Europe (which could result in Belgium not regaining its independence in 1830).

The Austrian and Russian advantage would have been quickly lost, since both had severe internal divisions and because they were not playing the games that eventually were decisive (Industrial Revolution and Colonialism).

1 Probably they did not want people in their own countries getting weird ideas.

2 Additionally, he promoted the Napoleonic code that, while absolutist, drew some ideas from the French Revolution (making him more dangerous to the status quo than the usual conqueror).

  • $\begingroup$ I thought Spain was a dependent state in that they didn't openly war against him. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ Initially it was allied, but Napoleon imprisoned the King and forced him to abdicate in his favour; Napoleon passed the title to his brother Joseph. There was widespread revolt against Joseph and, while he got some support, he always needed the French Army to support him, and many parts of the country were outside his control; the French suffered many loses both by guerrilla actions and open battles (Bailen). After the Russian campaign, Joseph position was untenable and left the country, and Spanish, Portuguese and English troops invaded the South of France (search for Peninsular Campaign). $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ I am probably going to accept this answer but I wanna see a few answers here to compare first. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 18:31

There was an Austrian Army of 250,000 men just a few days to a week's march off on the upper Rhine. There was also a 200,000 man Russian Army moving up towards the Rhine that participated in the pursuit of Napoleon after Waterloo.

So if Napoleon had won at Waterloo, odds are high that these Armies would have defeated his weakened force in a very short time.

  • $\begingroup$ Dear gosh, this guy would have had to face around 1 1/2 million soldiers.....I have just about come to the conclusion that his goals were impossible to achieve. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ His only hope was if those nations would give up and let his family be the new "Kings" of France. By 1815, this wasn't going to happen. $\endgroup$
    – Oldcat
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ 20 years of war probably PO-ed the rest of the world. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 19:09
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan If you want to let Napoleon reign longer, make him not try to invade Russia. By 1815, it was far too late. $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2015 at 19:41
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Gilles It seems the mere attempt to fight Russia brings about the end of many dictators. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 19:44

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