I saw something on TV (a history show) which mentioned that part of the reason Napoleon lost Waterloo was becuase he had hemorrhoids, and couldn’t mount his horse. Because of this, he was forced to leave the battle to his subordinates who failed. My history teacher hasn’t heard of this and I have not found any other source to support this. Can someone prove/disprove this?
I’ve heard the story from several sources, but I’m not sure if it’s an urban legend or not.
Well, “The Book of Lists” um, lists this. But a better answer would be that Napoleon set up his command post too far away from the center of action, and the same hyper-metabolism that had served him so well when young was now prematurely burnt out and he was forced to coach the from the cheap seats. Immediate command went to Marshal Ney, who was so close that he tried to coach from the quarterback position (to overwork the metaphor) and wasted some the best cavalrymen in Europe charging against infantry squares. Wellington, on the other hand, was all over the place that day, putting in 90 hours without sleep and losing all his aides to death or wounding. He was almost captured during recon and one of the battle’s famous quotes was, IIRC, “27th (or some outfit’s name), lie down!” when he had to high-tail it back to his own lines. I recommend David Howarth’s “Waterloo: Day of Battle.” It’s not just a history book but also a damn good read.
By the way, I like your username. It reminds me of the old keyboard pun: What did the horseman say to the drayman? Quirt I - You whip (qwertyuiop)
Qwertyasdfg: I have a book at home that analyzes several historical battles, including Waterloo, and the author definitely states that Napolean was feeling poorly on that day – I believe he cites colitis and piles as Bonaparte’s afflictions. In the author’s opinion, this contributed to the mistakes Napolean made at the battle. He seems to know his history and I will try to look up the book this weekend to give you more definite information.
I’ve studied Waterloo extensively. Though I’ve heard of the hemorrhoid story as anecdote, there are many other more strong reasons why Napoleonic failed at Waterloo.
- Ney failed to beat the British at Quatre Bras.
- Grouchy chased the Prussians the wrong way.
- Blucher overcame his Chief of Staff and went back to help the Brits.
- Napoleon’s COS was murdered, possibly by Prussians.
- Many of Napoleon’s generals were inept, some of the better ones stayed away.
- Napoleon failed to give Ney reinforcements when he could have broken the British.
- Napoleon underestimated the Wellington.
I mean Napoleon could have had hemorrhoids on that day, but so what? If Grouchy came back to Waterloo, or Blucher stayed away, or Napoleon gave Ney the 6 battalions of Old Guard when Ney asked him, Napoleon would have won Waterloo despite hemorrhoids.
As a historian, I would have to say: It was pure bad luck that did him in.
Sorry about the spelling and grammar typos, it’s late!
BTW, I would not recommend David Howarth of any of the older books (written before 1995). Many of them were based on Siborne (an English officer), who has turned out to be a terrible liar who twisted facts around and made up stories (for financial reasons.)