‘The Belgians ran at the first shot’ | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 129, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



For many generations British historians have decried the conduct of the Dutch troops at the battle of Waterloo as cowardly, an accusation which Dutch and Belgian historians, in their turn, have tried time and again to refute. This accusation of cowardice results from the exclusive and uncritical use a chauvinistic British historiography made of compatriotic eyewitness accounts. The slighting assessments of the Dutch military they contain, in most cases, derive from misinterpretation: the smoke and noise, the chaos and danger of battle precluded an objective appraisal of each other’s combat performance. Miscommunication further enhanced this negative opinion. Since the occasional allies of Waterloo were not allowed time to get to know and appreciate one another, they were unfamiliar with each other’s language, uniforms, and command structure. Nonetheless, the British were certainly acquainted with fighting side by side with foreign troops, and they were more than willing, if applicable, to appraise their professionalism. As this common battle experience was lacking at Waterloo, historical prejudices could easily prevail.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error