Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Countdown to Waterloo - 100 days

Historians often refer to Napoleon's Hundred Days, so you may be wondering what exactly was happening two hundred years ago today, with just 100 days to Waterloo.

Napoleon was still on his way north and had just reached Lyons. Here, as so often on his journey, the officials who were ordered to stop him were quick to change sides. The Mayor of Lyons actually issued a proclamation on the tenth, ordering citizens to stay indoors and trust in the law; by the next day he was proclaiming his loyalty to Napoleon. It was another minor triumph, but what was particularly significant about this event, one hundred days from Napoleon's defeat?

The answer is: nothing. The 'Hundred Days' are regarded as starting on Napoleon's return to Paris and ending with the restoration of King Louis on 8 July 1815. Constitutionally, it's important, because it marks the period while France was, yet again, without a king, though if you count it up it adds to 111 days. It doesn't, though, mark the period of Napoleon's ascendancy. The failure of Louis' men to stop Napoleon on his march north marked the end of any real power for the king and Waterloo, though not technically the end of Napoleon's rule, was the end of his control of France.

Let's leave Napoleon moving inexorably toward Paris (but carefully avoiding any areas he thought might still support the monarchy) and have a quick look at what's going on in my writing life. It's been a slightly strange time. I have written two separate series of books: the ones about James Burke, heroic Napoleonic era spy, and the ones about John Williamson, a rather more reflective chap living in the Far East at the high point of Empire. The second John Williamson book, Cawnpore, has just been re-published by Accent. It's a book I particularly like, so I've been spending some time trying to promote it. (If any of you want me to come to your book group or local history society to talk about Cawnpore and the history of the Indian Mutiny, please contact me. I'm happy to write on your blogs too.) At the same time, the third book about James Burke, Burke at Waterloo has just been finished and is with my lovely editor at Accent for her to work through it, after which will come all her requests for changes and re-writing. By then, though, I should have started on the next John Williamson book, which will see him back in England. So my brain is hopelessly split between India in 1857, Belgium in 1815 and London in around 1860. It's not helped by the fact that I am just home from Egypt, which obviously took me back to the world of Burke and the Bedouin and Napoleon's Middle Eastern adventure in 1798.

I hope you can keep track. If you haven't read The White Rajah, you can still take up John Williamson's adventures in Cawnpore, which is a stand-alone novel. It's out on Kindle and available to pre-order in paperback. We're still hoping to have Burke at Waterloo out in time for the anniversary: meanwhile, you can keep up with his earlier adventures in Burke in the Land of Silver and Burke and the Bedouin. Both are ridiculously cheap on Kindle and available in paperback for those who prefer a more traditional read.

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