In our first foray into Niue Island’s “Battles That Changed History” series, we examined a coin that commemorated the pivotal victory of joint American and French forces against the British army at Yorktown, Virginia, in the fall of 1781. For the next major rout to be depicted in the series, Niue Island, collaborating with the New Zealand Mint, has selected the Battle of Waterloo.
The Battle of Waterloo represented the final act of defiance of a renewed Napoleon Bonaparte, who had just returned to power three months prior to the June 1815 engagement. Bonaparte was regarded by many, including his enemies, as a military genius whose guile and tenacity were not to be underestimated in the field of battle. This is why his unexpected defeat and subsequent abdication of power four days later, at the hands of the Seventh Coalition at the Battle of Waterloo, is an excellent addition to Niue Island’s “Battles That Changed History” series.
On the reverse, the 1-ounce, .999 fine silver coin features a fully colored image of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, amidst an antiqued background of his troops engaged in battle at Waterloo. Wellington was the victorious British commander who was later credited as the one primarily responsible for Napoleon’s Waterloo defeat. Despite Napoleon’s forces ultimately being routed in the end, Wellington himself stated that the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life,” citing the incredible fight that Bonaparte’s forces put up despite being outnumbered by the coalition of British and Prussian forces. The coin boasts an antique finish with the legend above the field reading WATERLOO • 1815. The bottom of the reverse displays the weight, metal, and fineness as 1 oz 999 FINE SILVER.
The obverse of the coin is identical to that of the previous coin in the series, with the effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II portrayed by Ian Rank-Broadley. Reading clockwise around the coin is the legend ELIZABETH II NIUE TWO DOLLARS, with 2017 centered below the effigy.
|$2||.999 silver||1 oz.||40 mm||Antiqued, with applied color||5,000|
Every coin is presented in an antique-style timber box. The outer portion of the box depicts the Battle of Waterloo in a black engraving. When the box is opened, you will see the brilliant coin resting on black velvet along with a certificate of authenticity. The coin can be examined and purchased online at the New Zealand Mint’s website.
The Battle of Waterloo
In March 1815, the nations assembled at the Congress of Vienna declared that Napoleon Bonaparte was an outlaw for his violation of the Treaty of Fontainebleau. Bonaparte was in breach of the treaty for returning to France with an armed force from his exile on the island of Elba. As a result, a joint force of British and Prussian forces (known as the Seventh Coalition) led by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Prince of Wahlstatt, challenged Bonaparte’s forces by mounting an invasion of France from the northeastern border in present-day Belgium. Bonaparte’s strategy was to divide and conquer the forces of the Seventh Coalition by attacking them separately. Little did he know that it was this strategy that would ultimately lead to his defeat.
While Napoleon’s attack on the Prussian army was largely successful at the Battle of Ligny, he had also divided a portion of his force to attack the British forces at the Battle of Quatre Blas, which was not so successful. Despite holding back Bonaparte’s forces, the Duke of Wellington was forced to withdraw to Waterloo to cover the retreating Prussian forces. This, in turn, had effectively reversed Bonaparte’s divide and conquer strategy to harm the French forces instead, who were utterly routed after a long battle against the main British force and the Prussian rear guard. The defeat at Waterloo marked the end of Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign as Emperor of France, as he abdicated his seat of power just four days after the battle and faded into obscurity. As a result, The Battle of Waterloo will forever be remembered as the battle that broke Bonaparte. ❑