The Devil to Pay or Boney's Return from Hell-Bay

The Devil to Pay of Boney's Return from Hell-Bay. Copyright British Museum.

By 1814, the Napoleonic Wars had been raging for over 20 years. Almost the whole of Europe was united against a France that now seemed bent on conquering the whole continent. Britain, Russia, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Portugal and most of what is now Germany joined forces and invaded France from all directions.

Surrounded by foes, and with his armies devastated by his defeat in Russia the year before, Napoleon was forced to abdicate the throne.

The victorious allies met in Vienna, capital of Austria, at a congress to carve up Europe to benefit themselves, and crush the twin threats of revolutionary ideas and French domination. Napoleon was exiled to the tiny Mediterranean island of Elba, the Emperor of France no more.