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At Waterloo Re-Enactment, History So Real You Can Taste It

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tags: Waterloo



Tens of thousands of people have been gathering in the Belgian countryside over the last week to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. The bloody battle of June 18, 1815, marked the final defeat for Napoleon at the hands of a coalition of his enemies. The re-enactment is attracting history buffs, tourists and wannabe soldiers.

Napoleon himself is also a big draw. At one intersection where police have blocked a road, a crowd gathers to watch the spunky, 19th century French emperor jump out of a car and take on modern-day Belgian traffic cops. "Uh, we've got Napoleon here," says one policeman into his walkie-talkie.

With 6,000 people dressed in period costumes wandering around the countryside near Waterloo, there were bound to be a few interesting incidents. The 2015 version of Napoleon is embodied by 47-year-old Paris lawyer Frank Samson, who has played Napoleon for more than a decade and is quite a celebrity at Waterloo. With his black wig and jaunty gait, Samson bears a striking resemblance to the emperor. People throng him wherever he goes, yelling, "Sire!" and "Vive l'empereur!" as if he were the real thing.

Read entire article at KPBS

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