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1815, Napoleon’s return from Elba
The Hundred Days - Les Cent Jours 
posters and newspapers, a collection 


The majority of the documents in this collection deal with The Hundred Days ( les Cent-Jours ) , sometimes known as the Hundred Days of Napoleon or Napoleon's Hundred Days, marking the period between Napoleon's return from exile on the island of Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815 (a period of 111 days). This period saw the War of the Seventh Coalition, and includes the Waterloo Campaign, the Neapolitan War as well as several other minor campaigns. The phrase les Cent Jours (the hundred days) was first used by the prefect of Paris, Gaspard, comte de Chabrol, in his speech welcoming the king back to Paris on 8 July.

Provenance: This collection comes from the 80,000 volume library of the Royal Ernst August Fideicomiss library ( House of Hanover )  auctioned  in 1970 and February 1971 in Hamburg at Dr. Ernst Hauswedell & Co., lot 2891, the 2-volume catalogue of this auction is also included.

The collection is kept in the original carton folder marked: “ aus dem Jahre 1815 – Proklamationen u. Zeitungsnummern”. In pencil the auction number Nd. 2891.

Aus der Versteigerung der aus 80 000 Bänden umfassenden Königlich Ernst August Fideicomiss-Bibliothek, Hannover,  in Hamburg bei Dr. Ernst Hauswedell & Co.,Verst. Nr.  2891. Auktion 1970 und vom 10.- 12 Februar 1971. Der Auktionskatalog in 2 Teilen ist auch ind der Sammlung enthalten: 
und zwar:
DIE KÖNIGLICHE ERNST AUGUST FIDEICOMMISS-BIBLIOTHEK - KATALOG - 2 TEILE  3440 Nummern. Die Königliche Ernst August Fiedeicommiss-Bibliothek/ Hannover,. Auktion 174 und 177. 2 Tle. in 2 Bänden. Hamburg, Hauswedell, 10.- 12 Februar 1971. Kartoniert, 8°; zahlr. Tafelabbildungen. 208, 350 S., + ERGEBNISLISTE.  Teil I mit 2050 Nummern, / 2 volumes, many illustrations.


October-November 1813

23 October 1813

Verordnung über die Bildung des General-Gouvernements der heiligen Länder. 320 x 200 mm.

The Generalgouvernement Berg was a pro visional government from 25th November 1813 to 15th June 1815  after the resolution of the Grand duchy of Berg instituted by the allies. It covered the area of the Duchy of Berg till 1806 and Gimborn, Homburg and Wildenburg.
Front page: Leipzig, den 23sten Oktober 1813. Oberstes Verwaltungs-Departement. K. Freyherr vom Stein.
Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherr  vom und zum Stein ( 1757 – 1831), commonly known as Baron vom Stein, was a Prussian statesman who introduced the Prussian reforms that paved the way for the unification of Germany. He promoted the abolition of serfdom, with indemnification to territorial lords; subjection of the nobles to manorial imposts; and the establishment of a modern municipal system. After it became known that he had written a letter in which he criticized Napoleon, Stein was obliged to resign which he did on 24 November 1808, and retired to the Austrian Empire, from which he was summoned to the Russian Empire by Tsar Alexander I in 1812. After the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, Stein became head of the council for the administration of the re-conquered German countries.


On reverse page: Confirmation of the above by the provisional governor Justus Gruner, dated 13/25 November 1813

6th June 1815

Staats = und Gelehrten Zeitung des hamburgischen unpartheyischen Correspondenten Anno 1815 No. 89 (Am Dienstage, den 6. Junii ) 8pp.  230 x 190 mm. 

Der Hamburgische Correspondent  was the first Hamburg regular newspaper founded by Hermann Heinrich Hollen  in 1712 initially entitled  Holsteinischer Zeitungscorrespondent. From 1721 he issued this again as the Holsteinischer Correspondent and from 1724 it was called Hamburgischer Correspondent. It was the mose widely read and important European newspaper.
In this issue one reads about army movements, how the Austrian emperor travels to join the armies of the allies and how Lord Castlereagh [British Foreign Secretary, from 1812 he was central to the management of the coalition that defeated Napoleon and was the principal British diplomat at the Congress of Vienna ] proposed to pay 5 million pound sterling to the emperors of Russia and Austria and the king of Prussia since each of these had mobilised 150.000 men 

10th June 1815

Le journal universel No. 17, Samedi, 10 Juin 1815, 4 pages, folio. Published 8 days before Waterloo

It gives amongst others the names of those on Napoleon's side. 
Some  references to this journal: 
Le Journal universel connu sous le nom de Moniteur de Gand, fut l'organe officiel de l'émigration. L'un de ses principaux rédacteurs fut notamment Chateaubriand qui rédigea un article dans le numéro 20 sur Waterloo: La Victoire la plus complète vient d'être remportée sur l'ennemi et l'oppresseur de la France...
Après avoir quitté Paris le 19 mars à l'approche de Napoléon, Louis XVIII s'installa le 30 mars à Gand, alors sous l'influence du tout nouveau royaume des Pays-Bas. Rassemblant un gouvernement de fidèles, Louis XVIII comptait sur le Journal universel, journal de quatre pages payé sur la cassette du roi et publié la première fois le 14 avril, pour contrebalancer le Moniteur universel redevenu bonapartiste. Ce « moniteur de Gand 


19th June 1815

Proclamation des Feldmarschalls Furst Blücher an die Armee des Niederrheins

Field Marshall Count Blücher’s proclamation to the army of the Rhine of 19th June 1815
“to be read to every battalion “ You have performed great things, brave comrades…..


20th June 1815

Armeebericht der Preussischen Armee vom Niederrhein. [ in German ]  260 x 230 mm. 8 pages, 

Army notification from  general Count von Gneisenau sent from the head quarters at Merbes-le-Chateu, 20th June 1815 by order of field marshall Blücher. 
On how Napoleon started the battle on 15th June. 
Full descriptions of army movements, the battle near Ligny on 16th June, the march to Tilly. This battle was lost by the Prussians. 
The battle of 18th June and gradually the overall victory. 
To celebrate the unity between the British and Prussian nations Blücher ordered this battle to be called the Belle Alliance. 


20th June 1815

Buitengewone Nederlandsche Staats courant, 1815, No. 3,  Dinsdag den 20 Junij

The battle raged all day, Buonaparte used all means to win the hills where the English-Dutch army was positioned. 5 cavalry attacks were repulsed and a large number of artillery pieces was captured. By the evening due to the timely arrival of the Prussian army to help the duke of Wellington, Buonaparte was beaten.Blücher himself shouted “Children we must pursue them tonight otherwise they will attack again tomorrow”


20th June 1815

Buitengewone Nederlandsche Staats courant, 1815, No. 4,  Dinsdag den 20 Junij

The Prince of Orange has arrived in Brussels, the evening before around 8 PM he was hit by a bullet in his left arm, but he is in no danger. The Duke of Wellington has been victorious, the victory is complete.  Both armies are pursuing the enemy. Wellington said that he had never fought a similar battle before and that the army had been very courageous, 150 pieces of artillery had been captured on his side and 60 by Marshall Blücher. The people of Brussels were of great help helping the wounded. Marshall Blücher will soon reach Charleroi.


21st June 2015

Buitengewone Nederlandsche Staats courant, 1815 No. 5, Woensdag, den 21 Junij, 

His Royal Highnes ([the prince of Orange) is feeling better. The Duke of Wellington arrived in Brussels . The remnants of the enemy armies have fled in great disorder and have left an astounding number of artillery pieces and all luggage. They are pursued everywhere. Marshall Blücher has reported to the King of Prussia that he has also captured Buonaparte’s field equipage and Jerome’s coach. De French general Van Damme has been captured by the Prussians near Wavre. Also Count Lohau, commander of the French reserves, who confirmed that the battle had been totally lost. 


21 June 1815

PROCLAMATION . Le Prince Blücher aux braves Belges / PROCLAMATIE de Prins Blücher aan de brave Belgen.  420 x 360 mm.

Merbes-le-Château, 21st June 1815. Le Maréchal; Prince De Blücher / De veldmaarschalk Prins Van Blücher. 

Blücher thanks the  Belgians when his army is about to leave their country to go into France.


26th June 1815

Buitengewone Gravenhaagsche courant, Maandag den 26 Juny / Special issue of this The Hague newspaper of 26th June 1815 , 450 X 250 mm. (partly torn in centre fold)

The newspaper received the for Europe at the time most important message that BUONAPARTE, desperate  about his total defeat, had left for Paris in civilian clothes where he had been arrested and forced to resign all his functions


28th June 1815

Buitengewone Nederlandsche Staats courant, Woensdag den 28 Junij Ao. 1815

[special issue of the Dutch government’s gazette of 28 June 1815) 425 x 260 mm.]
Contains a.o. Wellington’s report of 25th June about reinforcing the Kamerijk garrison  and Napoleon’s declaration of 22 June  to the French people in which he expresses his regret that not all of the French were on his side and declares his official abdication while proclaiming his son as Emperor Napoleon II


1st July 1815

Buitengewone Nederlandsche Staats-Courant, Zaterdag,  den 1 Julij Ao. 1815

Notification that one has reported to the King that HRH Prince Frederik [ of the Netherlands]  has attacked the fortification Quesnoi and has forced the commander general Despraux to capitulate

The text: 


The full page of 1st July 1815


6th July 1815

Buitengewone Nederlandsche Staats-Courant, Donderdag, den 6 Julij

General Fagel reports on 3rd July that Paris has capitulated and that one of the condtions of the capitulation is that  the French army will retreat behind the Loire.


8th July 1815

Buitengewone Nederlandsche Staats-Courant, Donderdag, den 8 Julij

Capitulation of Paris now ratified.  Before that the move by the Prussian army to St. Germain and the Seine led to heavy fighting, Versailles was taken by the Prussians and then re-taken by the French. On 2nd July the Prussian army took Versailles again and then moved to Paris immediately. The French fought hard under  marshal Davoust but the sight of Paris encouraged the Prussians greatly . the army corps under  “Ziethen” conquered all positions by bayonet. After the capitulation the French army had to leave Paris and retreat to the southern shore of the Loire. On 6th July the armies of Wellington and Blücher occupied Paris. They were expecting the Russian emperor and the King of Prussia.  Buonaparte had already left for Rochefort with his generals Savary, Bertrand and Labedoyère. 


Some modern views:

Rory Muir’s recent book rightly undermines the harsh image of the “Iron Duke”: a cold and pitiless martinet in the field, a cynical reactionary in politics, feared rather than loved by those around him. One example of his humanity must suffice. As night fell on the battlefield of Waterloo, one of the greatest victories in history, the duke wept as he was told of his friend Gordon’s death. “Well, thank God!” he said. “I don’t know what it is to lose a battle, but certainly nothing can be more painful than to gain one with the loss of so many of one’s friends.” It is impossible to imagine Napoleon reacting like this. Despite his notorious remarks about his soldiery (“the scum of the earth”, etc), he did in fact look after them better than his contemporaries. Of the 7,687 men wounded at Waterloo under his command, only 11 per cent had died of their wounds a year later. Knowing what brutality his men were capable of, Wellington, in stark contrast to his allies, took care to protect civilians from their depredations, with the result that he was more popular with the occupied French than their own rulers. (from: Rory Muir:  Wellington: Waterloo and the Fortunes of Peace, 1814-1852 (Yale U.P. )

Once committed to the battle, withdrawing in the face of a major hit against the center and then an attack on the flank would have been a good position for Blücher to be in. Also, with Napoleon wanting to keep the allied armies separate, this would have, in addition to possibly not succeeding, put more space between them. 
It's hard to ever say for sure what would happen, but, it seems likely that Blücher would have been decisively routed if not for the costly failures surrounding the battles. Napoleon wasn't exactly where he wanted to be, but he was quite close. We can say that the French were largely in the driver’s seat to this point and even in the immediate aftermath of the battle. You note later that one might have thought Blücher was winning until the last half hour, but I think one would have consider that Napoleon had at least many things that he wanted. Ney wasn't going to support him, but he did have Blücher alone, d'Erlon's corp on the way, and the Guard ready to be sent in around 5 pm. (War and Military History Forum )