The Battle of Waterloo: Why it is still important 200 years on? - video

Two centuries on, the historic clash still has great importance in 2015

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The Independent Online

As we cast our eyes back 200 years to commemorate The Battle of Waterloo; on first glance, it seems there is not a great deal which is relevant to contemporary politics.

It ended a period of tumult in Europe and ushered in a spate of violent revolutions - it is clear that Europe in the twenty-first century has moved on. But, the historic clash still remains relevant in the context of British politics, namely two controversial referendums.

We talk to Dr Andrew Smith, Teaching Fellow at UCL, about why the Battle of Waterloo is still important today.

Let’s start with last year’s Scottish independence referendum. In the final weeks of the Better Together campaign, the arguments became steeped in history, leading to critics branding the rhetoric as overdramatic.

Despite the histrionics of certain Westminster politicians, the points were valid - the union has a rich history, of which The Battle of Waterloo is a key moment. It saw divided nations work together for a common goal; and this is a timeless lesson.

It also has relevance on the proposed referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. The skirmish was won due to an alliance of European countries rather than the efforts of a single nation. It laid the first foundations for a unified Europe in the Congress of Vienna; which later became the model for the League of Nations and European Union.

The European Union may have flaws in its current form; but the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo serves as a reminder that European unity has the power to overcome the most powerful of forces.