On 26 February 1815 Napoleon escaped from his captivity on Elba and began his return to power in France. On 13 March 1815, the victors of the Napoleonic Wars: Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, Sweden, and Russia, were attending the Congress of Vienna dividing up the spoils. Upon news of Napoleon’s return, they declared him an outlaw and formed the Seventh Coalition. On 19 March, King Louis XVIII fled Paris with his court to Belgium.
On 20 March 1815, Napoleon triumphantly entered Paris at the head of an army of 90,000.
So began The Hundred Days.
From March through July 1815, the fate of Europe, and dare I say Western Civilization, hung in the balance. At the bloody end of the Age of Enlightenment, would the 19th Century belong to the Constitutional Monarchists or the Enlightened Despots? Would it belong to Britain or France? The Rule of Law or the Rule of Whim?
The world would find out 111 days later outside of a tiny Belgian town called Waterloo.