1816 was the ‘year of no summer’.
Volcanic ash from the Dutch East Indies
darkened Europe’s skies. Mount Tambora,
amid the savannahs of Sumbawa,
had erupted the previous year.
So June 1815 was unseasonably
wet, particularly in Belgium.
Escaped from Elba, Bonaparte had rallied
France, almost expunging Blucher’s Prussians
in Wallonia. At Waterloo,
on the morning of the 8th, Napoleon –
once begetter of Le Code Civil
Des Français before he crowned himself –
waited for the ground to dry in order
to deploy his cavalry to best effect.
However, Blucher’s remnants joined Wellington’s
‘scum of the earth’, and Boney rode from the field
in tears. His ‘critical error’ became
part of the military syllabus.
Add choice and pride to physics and chance
butterflies too can make a right mess of things.