Napoleonic wars

The roots of 20th-century German aggression

It is the contention of Peter Wilson, professor of the history of war at Oxford University and the author of an acclaimed history of the Thirty Years’ War, that military historians have focused too much on the German wars of the 20th century in trying to understand German ‘militarism’ as a distinctive characteristic – a ‘genius for war’ imitated by others. As he points out, Germany and Austria lost the first world war, and Germany, with Austria now attached, lost the second as well. A ‘genius for war’ evidently needs some rethinking. Wilson wants to place these modern wars in perspective, stretching back to the 15th century. To understand how

How Macron was outfoxed by a dead Napoleonic general

Skeletons don’t always lurk in cupboards, some of them hide under dance floors waiting for a particularly rousing party to dislodge them. Such is the story of one of Napoleon’s favourite generals, César Charles Étienne Gudin de La Sablonnière, whose missing remains were discovered under a dance floor in Smolensk in 2019, over 200 years after his death from a cannonball during the French invasion of Russia in 1812. Yesterday, his one-legged skeleton was repatriated to France via a private jet chartered by the Russian oligarch, Andrei Kozitsyn. Not a bad way to travel for a Napoleonic soldier. The discovery of Gudin’s remains and their passage home unearths some complicated