How old was Napoleon at Waterloo?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Napoleon was forty-five years old when he fought—and lost—the battle of Waterloo. The battle took place on June 18, 1815, in what is modern-day Belgium. It says a lot about Napoleon that he fought his last battle at such a relatively young age. Most generals at that time were considerably older than Napoleon. Von Blücher, for example, head of the Prussian forces at Waterloo, was seventy-three-years old.

But few generals have experienced the kind of rapid rise through the ranks enjoyed by Napoleon, whose remarkable military genius was recognized even by his most implacable enemies. His career in the French Army started at the tender age of sixteen, when he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the La Fère artillery regiment. Napoleon's subsequent rise was truly meteoric, and he was eventually promoted to Brigadier General at the astonishingly young age of twenty-four. It was from this exalted position that Napoleon launched his political career in France and, subsequently, the international stage, which ultimately led to his defeat at Waterloo.

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