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Napoleon III | FALL (1806-1815)

‘What a pity the man wasn’t lazy ’ remarked the wily French diplomat Talleyrand as he later lamented on how Napoleon’s restless energy had led him to dominate Europe and the age against all odds. But of course, you know all this dear listener as you’ve already accompanied us on the first two episodes of our whirlwind tour covering the first French emperor’s incredible rise and reign! So join us for our conclusion to this trilogy as we follow the heady high’s and disastrous defeats of the Grand Armée and test whether Napoleon was right when he famously claimed that ‘there is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous’.

Mark kicks off our exploration with the Battle of Austerlitz, famously dubbed the “Battle of the Three Emperors”, where Napoleon’s military genius reached its zenith, securing a decisive victory over the combined forces of Russia and Austria. From there, we witness the defeat of Prussia, the smashing of the Holy Roman Empire, and the implementation of the “Continental System”, which sought to cripple Britain’s economy. But it wasn’t all conquests and triumphs. After promptly dumping Josephine in favour of an alliance with Austria, Napoleon’s foundations start to crumble and the Russian campaign proves to be his undoing, with the 6th coalition chasing him back to France after the fire of Moscow and the disasterous battle of Leipzig. Still, he doesn’t give up without a fight, winning 4 battles in 5 days but still losing his crown and his country through forced abdication in 1814.

Now, if this was a horror movie it’d be the part where you think the monster is dead but it bursts out of the rubble for a final slash. In Napoleon’s case, this was his return to France in 1815 for a famous 100 days. You’ll have to listen to find out how this great adventure concludes, but let’s just say that a famous ABBA song might give you a hint. That’s right, he became a Dancing Queen! Just kidding – we’re talking Waterloo.

Our 3-part Napoleon series brings us towards the end of Reel History Season 4. Join us next time for our Season Finale and look forward to a bonus Napoleon episode coming shortly to