The Hundred Days marked the period between Napoleons return from exile on the island of Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815. This period saw the War of the Seventh Coalition, and includes the Waterloo Campaign, the phrase les Cent Jours was first used by the prefect of Paris, Gaspard, comte de Chabrol, in his speech welcoming the king back to Paris on 8 July. Napoleon returned while the Congress of Vienna was sitting, the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars pitted France against various coalitions of other European nations nearly continuously from 1792 onward. The overthrow and subsequent public execution of Louis XVI in France had greatly disturbed other European leaders, rather than leading to Frances defeat, the wars allowed the revolutionary regime to expand beyond its borders and create client republics. The success of the French forces made an out of their best commander. In 1799, Napoleon staged a successful coup détat and became First Consul of the new French Consulate, five years later, he crowned himself Emperor Napoleon I. The rise of Napoleon troubled the other European powers as much as the revolutionary regime had. Despite the formation of new coalitions against him, Napoleons forces continued to conquer much of Europe, the tide of war began to turn after a disastrous French invasion of Russia in 1812 that resulted in the loss of much of Napoleons army. The following year, during the War of the Sixth Coalition, Coalition forces defeated the French in the Battle of Leipzig, following its victory at Leipzig, the Coalition vowed to press on to Paris and depose Napoleon. In the last week of February 1814, Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher advanced on Paris, the Battle of Reims went to Napoleon, but this victory was followed by successive defeats from increasingly overwhelming odds. Coalition forces entered Paris after the Battle of Montmartre on 30 March 1814, on 6 April 1814, Napoleon abdicated his throne, leading to the accession of Louis XVIII and the first Bourbon Restoration a month later. The defeated Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany, Napoleon spent only nine months and 21 days in uneasy retirement on Elba, watching events in France with great interest as the Congress of Vienna gradually gathered. He had been escorted to Elba by Sir Neil Campbell, who remained in there while performing other duties in Italy. Equally threatening was the situation in Europe which had been stressed and exhausted during the previous decades of near constant warfare. The conflicting demands of major powers were for a time so exorbitant as to bring the Powers at the Congress of Vienna to the verge of war with each other. Thus every scrap of news reaching remote Elba looked favourable to Napoleon to retake power as he reasoned the news of his return would cause a popular rising as he approached. So threatening were the symptoms that the royalists at Paris and the plenipotentiaries at Vienna talked of deporting him to the Azores or to Saint Helena, at the Congress of Vienna the various participating nations had very different and conflicting goals. Tsar Alexander of Russia had expected to absorb much of Poland and to leave a Polish puppet state, the renewed Prussian state demanded all of the Kingdom of Saxony
The journey of a modern hero, to the island of Elba. Print shows Napoleon seated backwards on a donkey on the road "to Elba" from Fontainebleau; he holds a broken sword in one hand and the donkey's tail in the other while two drummers follow him playing a farewell(?) march.
The brig Inconstant, under Captain Taillade and ferrying Napoleon to France, crosses the path of the brig Zéphir, under Captain Andrieux. Inconstant flies the tricolour of the Empire, while Zéphir flies the white ensign of the Monarchy.
Strategic situation in Western Europe in 1815: 250,000 Frenchmen faced a coalition of about 850,000 soldiers on four fronts. In addition, Napoleon was forced to leave 20,000 men in Western France to reduce a royalist insurrection.