File:Napoleon-Bonaparte-4085.jpgThis year — 2015 — marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

A recent article on the French site L’Internaute explores what would have happened if Napoleon Bonaparte had won.

According to German historian Helmut Stubbe da Luz, had Napoleon emerged victorious, the cities of Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck would have become French. He would have invaded Russia again and possibly conquered China, which was an ‘Asian province’ at the time (Stubbe da Luz’s words). The Napoleonic Code, part of which included the rights of man, would have spread everywhere and Europe would have been a more equitable, peaceful place.

That is assuming quite a lot in Napoleon’s favour.

The historian goes on to assert that, because France would have dominated Europe instead of Germany, the World Wars of the 20th century never would have happened.

However, the fact remains that Wellington and his allied forces as well as Blücher and his Prussian troops won the day. Wellington was worried and, if he had lost, Napoleon could have invaded England. A friend of mine told me many years ago that an overriding fear for the English at that time was the safety of their local water supplies if French forces invaded.

It is incomprehensible that historians — and Stubbe da Luz is not alone in his reimagining of the Napoleonic Era — keep asking ‘What if?’ when what happened happened.

It would be better if they wrote and spoke about the lessons from history that we can apply to the present day. It would be politically incorrect in places, no doubt, but we could at least learn something instead of waste time reading about hypothetical situations.

In the words of George Santayana:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.