Napoleon Bonaparte voluntarily surrendered to British Captain Maitland on board the Royal Navy ship HMS Bellerophon.

Napoleon’s return from exile on the island of Elba in March 1815 heralded the start of the Hundred Days which saw Napoleon seek to re-establish his position as Emperor of the French. On 18 June his army was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo by British and Prussian armies of the Seventh Coalition, prompting Napoleon to abdicate two days later.

Having been warned to leave Paris, Napoleon moved first to the Château de Malmaison and then to the southwestern port of Rochefort from where he hoped to escape to the United States. By this time, however, British Royal Navy warships had begun a blockade of French ports to prevent Napoleon leaving. Consequently unable to either remain in France, or flee across the Atlantic, Napoleon was forced to surrender to the British.

On 14 July Captain Maitland of HMS Bellerophon was informed that Napoleon would surrender on board his ship the next day. The former Emperor duly boarded the brig Épervier on the morning of 15 July and made his way to the Bellerophon. In order to avoid Napoleon being received by Vice-Admiral Henry Hotham on board HMS Superb, which was also off the coast of Rochefort, Maitland sent a barge to meet him.

Shortly before 7am Napoleon and his General Henri Gatien Bertrand arrived at the Bellerophon and announced that ‘I am come to throw myself on the protection of your Prince and your laws.’ He was subsequently taken to England, from where he was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. He died there on 5 May 1821.

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