About The Project
In May 1814, following a series of military defeats and his eventual abdication, Napoleon was exiled to the isle of Elba off the west coast of Italy between Tuscany and Corsica. Less than ten months later, he arrived back in France with a contingent of some 6-700 men. He offered himself as a popular hero: one who could, as Balzac later put it, ‘gain an empire simply by showing his hat! ’ As he marched North, opposition melted away and the armies sent to stop him switched their allegiance to support him – thereby largely fulfilling his ambition to return to power without firing a shot. Just two weeks later, Napoleon was in Paris, and Louis XVIII, the restored Bourbon king, was in exile. By July 1815, it was all over: Napoleon was in British hands on his way to his final exile. This website will illustrate and explain the significance of these tumultuous days by tracking events on a daily basis, from Napoleon’s flotilla setting sail from Elba’s Portoferráio, to his surrender on the British ship Bellerophon: each day, an object will be released, with a short explanation of what it can tells us about the ‘100 Days’.
The name given to this period – the ‘100 Days’ – is not quite exact! It was 98 days from Napoleon’s arrival in Paris on March 17 1815 to his abdication and departure on 25 June 1815; and Louis XVIII left Paris on 19 March 1815 and arrived back on 8 July 1815, 112 days later. But history is never as tidy as the sound-bites by which we represent it, and that is one of the points that we have tried to communicate with this website, by showing the variety of consequences of and reactions to Napoleon’s return and defeat for people across Europe and within the wider Atlantic and Mediterranean worlds.