Andrew Field

The Prince of Orange: Hero or Zero?

In the Anglo-centric history of the battle of Waterloo, the Prince of Orange is generally depicted as a bumbling, arrogant and militarily incompetent individual, who was ill-suited to senior military command and responsible for the deaths of numerous British soldiers during the Waterloo campaign. However, in Dutch histories at least, the future King Willem II is praised as an heroic and courageous military commander, with much military experience, who reached high command on merit. During the Waterloo campaign he had saved Wellington considerable embarrassment by choosing to fight at Quatre Bras and was gloriously wounded leading a daring counterattack against the feared French Imperial Guard at Waterloo.The presentation will explore his military background and performance during the Waterloo campaign and objectively consider whether his poor reputation was deserved.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Andrew Field MBE retired from the British Army after a career spanning forty-three years. He has been fascinated by the Napoleonic Wars for even longer and has spent many happy hours researching the period and visiting many of the major battlefields.  He is considered as a leading expert on the Waterloo campaign of 1815.  He has a particular fascination for Napoleon’s Grande Armée and boasts an extensive library of French memoirs and accounts of the Waterloo campaign.  He is the author of eight books, notable among which is a four-volume account of the 1815 campaign from the French perspective based on the accounts of French officers and soldiers.  He regularly lectures on Napoleonic themes, particularly on aspects of Waterloo, to a wide variety of audiences.  He has also guided groups around the battlefield and key points of the campaign. He advises on several Waterloo projects, including Waterloo Remodelled and Waterloo Uncovered, and is currently advising on the re-development of the Hougoumont exhibition on the battlefield.

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