This June marks the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, fought between the 15th to 18th of June 1815. With the defeat of Napeleon by a combined army led by the Duke of Wellington peace was finally restored to Europe after 10 years of fighting following the French Revolution in 1792.


Bataille de Waterloo. PLan de Champs de Bataille de Waterloo dit de la Belle-Alliance. Victoire memorable remportee le 18 Juin 1815, par les armees alliees sous les ordres de S.S. le Duc de Wellington et de S.A. le Prince Blucher de Wahlstadt sur l’Armee Francaise commandee par Napoleon. Published in Belgium in 1816 and comes with sheet of explanatory text, (E) C28:11 (3)

Waterloo has been mapped a number of times since 1815, the Bodleian shows here just two from a number in the map collection, one English and one in French. Both are laid out in a standard cartographic way of depicting armies and formations by using blocks to represent troop positions (coloured depending on Allied or French), topograhy is presented by using hachures to show hills and slopes and the key places are mentioned. The main difference between the two maps is that the french map, published in Belgium a year after the battle, is of the day and hence has to show troop movements throughout the day, indicated here by broken lines and directional arrows. The later English map, concentrating as it does on a particular and crucial point of the battlet, is less cluttered and easier to follow. Both maps come with accompanying text.


Field of Waterloo, towards sunset on June 18th 1815, from ‘A voice from Waterloo..’ published in 1847. The map shows the positions of the opposing forces as the Prussian forces joined the fight and turned the course of the battle away from the French. The map includes, as well as field positions, an index of the key points and events on the day. (E) C28:11 (1)

Waterloo and the wars fought by Napeleon and the French since 1792 feature heavily in literature such as Vanity Fair  and numerous works by Thomas Hardy and indirectly led to the production of the most successful and long-lived of maps, the Ordnance Survey 1” series. Originally published in 1801 as a set of four maps of the Kent coast made in preparation for the supposed French invasion of England the series continues to this day under the guise of the Landranger series.




General survey of the County of Kent, with part of the County of Essex, done by the surveying draftsmen of his Majesty’s Honourable Board of Ordnance, on the basis of the trigonometrical survey carried on by their orders under the direction of Capt. W. Mudge of the Royal Artillery: F.R.S. 1801. Gough Maps Kent 48