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Simms, Tombs and Mallinson reflect on the lessons of Waterloo, 200 years on

last modified Apr 22, 2015 07:53 PM

200 years have elapsed since the Battle of Waterloo, a watershed moment in European history that simultaneously ended more than twenty years of war on the European continent and halted French attempts of domination. This victory of European coalition forces against Napoleon is a historical event that should be remembered for its own sake, for its long-lasting impact, and for the lessons that today's Europe can draw from it.

However, what light does this particular moment in history that brought Britain together with allies from Europe shed on the United Kingdom's relationship with the continent over time? Furthermore, given the international nature of the response against French imperialism, what can today's Europe learn from Waterloo about how to respond to present challenges?

Lastly, the recent 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I began a discussion on Anglo-German relations across time in this country. Given that Wellington's successful army at Waterloo was largely made up of foreigners, and especially Germans, can the anniversary of this battle cast a more positive light on this relationship across time?

On Tuesday 3 February, by kind invitation of Ben Gummer MP, The Henry Jackson Society and The Project for Democratic Union hosted a panel discussion with Robert Tombs, Professor of History at Cambridge University; Brigadier (retired) Allan Mallinson, a distinguished military historian and former army officer; and Brendan Simms, Professor in the History of International Relations at Cambridge University. The speakers explored the legacy of the Battle of Waterloo for the United Kingdom and for its relations with the continent, particularly in light of the current debates about the future of this relationship.

Click here to listen to the event in full.

Click here to view the event transcript.


Professor Robert Tombs is Professor of History at Cambridge, one of the leading scholars of Anglo-French relations and author of numerous books on nineteenth-century France. His most recent work is the bestselling and highly acclaimed The English and Their History (2014).

Brigadier (retired) Allan Mallinson is a distinguished military historian and former army officer, who has written extensively on the Napoleonic Wars. He served for thirty-five years in the army worldwide, and in key policy branches of the MoD. He left the army in 2004 as a brigadier to write full time, including defence comment for The Times. His most recent book is 1914: Fight the Good Fight – Britain, the Army and the Coming of the First World War (2013), which was shortlisted for the Duke of Westminster's Medal for Military Literature, and has won the army "book of the year" award.

Professor Brendan Simms is President of The Henry Jackson Society and of The Project for Democratic Union, and author of various books on European history. He is Professor in the History of International Relations in the Centre of International Studies, Cambridge University, and recently published an account of the King's German Legion at Waterloo, The Longest afternoon (2014).