The Napoleonic Wars
Britain was at war with France from 1793 to 1815.
A Revolution started in France in 1789. Many European countries were frightened that the revolution would spread to them, and declared war on France.
Napoleon, one of France’s most successful generals, seized power in 1799. Under his leadership, most of Europe was conquered by France and its allies.
The countries of Europe took sides, with Britain the main power on one side and France on the other.
The fighting spread half way round the world, and is thought to have killed up to 3.5 million people.
Much of the fighting in the Napoleonic Wars was at sea. Cape Trafalgar is part of the south-west coast of Spain. One third of the sailors captured at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 were imprisoned at Norman Cross.
Throughout the War, the British people lived in fear of French invasion. As a result, 1 in 3 British men enlisted in the army, navy or militia.
It was Napoleon Bonaparte who led the French through most of the War.
He was from Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean. He became the military and political leader of France in1799 and made himself Emperor in 1804.
Horatio Nelson was from Norfolk. He became an officer in the Navy, and, as Vice Admiral, commanded the fleet in a number of victorious sea battles during the Napoleonic Wars.
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, led the British Army to victory against the French in Spain. He later defeated Napoleon himself at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.