The Napoleonic wars did not end with Waterloo. That famous battle was just the beginning of a long, complex transition to peace. After a massive invasion of France by more than a million soldiers from across Europe, the Allied powers insisted on a long-term occupation of the country to guarantee that the defeated nation rebuild itself and pay substantial reparations to its conquerors. Our Friends the Enemies provides the first comprehensive history of the post-Napoleonic occupation of France and its innovative approach to peacemaking.
From 1815 to 1818, a multinational force of 150,000 men under the command of the Duke of Wellington occupied northeastern France. From military, political, and cultural perspectives, Christine Haynes reconstructs the experience of the occupiers and the occupied in Paris and across the French countryside. The occupation involved some violence, but it also promoted considerable exchange and reconciliation between the French and their former enemies.
By forcing the restored monarchy to undertake reforms to meet its financial obligations, this early peacekeeping operation played a pivotal role in the economic and political reconstruction of France after twenty-five years of revolution and war. Transforming former European enemies into allies, the mission established Paris as a cosmopolitan capital and foreshadowed efforts at postwar reconstruction in the twentieth century.
While warfare tends to get more attention, how wars end and how societies are rebuilt afterwards is often just as important. In this deeply researched, elegantly written book, Haynes offers a compelling and insightful account of the Allied occupation of France after the wars against Napoleon. She gives a visceral sense of what the experience was like for all parties and shows how the occupation enabled the making of a lasting peace and the reconstruction of French society and politics.
A very good book, written with verve and attention to archival detail, in a manner reminiscent of the great historian of France Richard Cobb. In addition to being the first serious English-language treatment of an important subject, it is an exemplary blend of social, cultural, financial, and economic (as well as military and diplomatic) history.
Haynes draws on a wealth of evidence to weave a rich history of the occupation that provided a key moment of reflection over the political idea of ‘Europe.’ This is an impressive contribution to the literature on the French Restoration, liberalism in nineteenth-century Europe, occupation and peacemaking.
- 2020, Winner of the Eugen Weber Book Prize
- 416 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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