18 June 2015

The Battle of Waterloo

It will be splendid if some competent historian with a mens vere Catholica can inform us what the significance is of the Battle of Waterloo. It's beyond me. It appears to be a significant repudiation of that Enlightenment which had been embodied in the French Revolution; it restored Bourbon rule to France and Spain ... but in France the Restoration fell apart in a decade and a half. We can hardly call this a decisive re-establishment of ancien regime Europe. It put paid to the Tyranny of the Inspired Heroic Individual; but presaged the century of Stalin and Hitler, embodiments of Class Struggle or of Racial Identity. It was not exactly the War to end all Wars, and yet its scale foretold the wars of mass carnage in the following century.

Was this victory simply a massively impressive but ultimately empty attempt to prevent the onrush of an unstoppable tide? Was it the last whimper of a Europe of Tradition before the advent of the horrors ... still with us ... of a succession of ruthless ideologies; the Vendee genocide; the enormities of Hitler's hate-filled slaughter of the Jews and others; our own more polite and well-mannered slaughter of the Unborn?

9 comments:

Master Michael said...

Waterloo put an end to the military and political career of Napoleon.
Thus Waterloo was was a Good Thing.

We have our own Napoleons, as does every generation.

vetusta ecclesia said...

It led to the Congress of Vienna, which like Versailles and Sykes-Picquot, made arbitrary changes to nations (and maps).

Jacobi said...

Well Napoleon won in the end. Any Frenchman will tell you that. I mean, we all, at least those who have any sense, use the metric system now!

Michael Leahy said...

Master Michael makes an excellent point. Every generation would do well to administer its own Waterloo to its own particular tyranny.

Rose Marie said...

Maybe things are better in the UK where people might actually know who Edmund Burke was, but here in the USA I went through 12 years in Catholic schools and no one ever mentioned that the French Revolution was not such a good thing, especially for Catholics. And my French French teacher was absolutely ga-ga over Napoleon. Conversations with many others similarly schooled reveal the same experience. No wonder we can't identify contemporary enemies of the Church! In our education, enemies and martyrdom ended with Constantine the Great!

UnanimousConsent said...

Reflections on the Revolution in France was, perhaps, the single most influential book I read in college, and it was emphasized in both CUBa's Department of Politics and the School of Philosophy. Of course Straussian analysis in one Department differed substantially from the Voeglin analysis in another.

Little Black Sambo said...

Napoleon was not at all keen on the metric system, having little admiration for Revolutionary idealism. He was more anxious about enforcing uniformity, and when the metric system proved unpopular, proposed a compromise, using traditional units (the inch, fathom, etc) but relating them to the metre. The metric system was rescinded in 1812.

Peter of Carolina said...

It seems to me that the settlement after Waterloo kept things relatively cool for the next century. Compare that with the aftermath of the Versailles Treaty a little over a century later. The Congress of Vienna did not randomly redraw the map of Europe, but attempted to return things to something like how they were before the revolution.

Tommy said...

I can only verify from the USA perspective that Rose Marie is correct. And in the Catholic schools we often don't mind having non-Catholic Christians as teachers, which as I grow older I increasingly realize is a bad idea, even if they are genuinely good people who love the Lord and are good (by many standards) at teaching. Whether Quaker, Lutheran, or Evangelical Christian -- they are going to see art, science, history (especially history) very differently than a Catholic. It doesn't matter if you have Catholics teaching the faith, when the history class is teaching a version of history that teaches the opposite, and the science curriculum hints that faith and science cannot go together.