Napoleon, who had reached Paris a few hours too late, signed his abdication on the 11th of April, at Fontainebleau, renouncing for himself and heirs all claims to the throne of France, Italy, or any other country; the allies, on their side, engaging to confer on him the sovereignty of the island of Elba, with a pension of two millions of francs, to grant to his wife the duchies of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla, with succession to her son and his descendants, and to provide for his relations.
On the very day of Napoleon's landing at Elba (14th of May), Louis XVIII entered Paris, replaced the constitution hastily drawn up by the provisional government by another formed on the English model, with two chambers, one of peers and one of deputies, and concluded with the allies the peace of Paris, by which it was settled that the boundaries of France should be the same as they were before the Revolution, with the exception of some unimportant extensions towards the east and north-east.
For the definitive settlement of European affairs, especially as regarded Germany, a Congress was held at Vienna (1st of November, 1814-9th of June, 1815), which was attended by the Emperors of Russia and Austria, the Kings of Prussia, Denmark, and Würtemberg, and several other princes, statesmen, and generals.
A spirit of disaffection had already begun to manifest itself in France, in consequence of the mal-administration of the government, and the insolence of those classes which had enjoyed peculiar privileges before the Revolution. Encouraged by the reports which he received of the prevalence of discontent, especially among the soldiers, and the difficulties in which the Congress of Vienna was involved by the Polish and Saxon questions, Napoleon escaped from Elba, landed with 2000 men at Cannes on the 1st of March 1815, and being joined by all the troops sent to oppose his progress, and by Marshal Ney, entered Paris on the 20th, amidst the acclamations of the people, and immediately established his head quarters at the Tuileries. Meanwhile Louis XVIII had fled to Ghent.
Napoleon, by a proclamation dated from Lyons, had already summoned the electoral colleges of the empire to hold an extraordinary meeting (Champ de Mai) in Paris, for the improvement of the constitution; but the popularity obtained by this apparent concession to the wishes of the people, was in a great measure lost in consequence of these ameliorations being eventually decreed by the emperor himself, without the intervention of a representative body. Notwithstanding repeated attempts on the part of Napoleon to reopen negotiations with the emperors of Austria and Russia, the Congress of Vienna proclaimed him an outlawed traitor on the 13th of March, renewed their alliance for the restoration of Louis XVIII, and engaged to raise a force, which eventually amounted to 900,000 men. On the other hand, Napoleon was unable to complete the number which he had intended to bring into the field (560,000 men).
Napoleon now determined to commence hostilities by attacking simultaneously the allied troops (English, Dutch, Belgians, Hanoverians, Brunswiekers, Nassauers, etc.), which were dispersed through Belgium under the command of Wellington, and the Prussians under Blücher; and thus preventing a junction of the two armies. The Prussian army, which had not yet had time to concentrate itself, was defeated at Ligny; whilst Ney meanwhile marched northwards as far as Quatrebras, for the purpose of preventing the advance of Wellington to relieve the Prussians. Here an indecisive battle was fought, in which Duke William of Brunswick lost his life. Instead of falling back on Namur, as Napoleon had expected, the Prussians now endeavored to effect a junction with Wellington by Wavre. Having dispatched Marshal Grouchy to intercept Blucher, Napoleon attacked Wellington on the 18th of June, at Waterloo, where the English, after bravely fighting throughout the day, were beginning to waver towards evening, when Blücher who had left Thielemann to oppose Grouchy at Wavre, appeared on the field, and, in conjunction with Wellington, completely routed the French army, which fled in disorder, pursued by the Prussians. After a succession of victorious skirmishes, Blucher arrived, on the 22d of June, at Paris, where Napoleon had a second time abdicated, in favor of his son. Napoleon then fled to Rochefort, with the intention of embarking for America; but finding the harbor beset by English cruisers, he surrendered himself to Capt. Maitland, of the Bellerophon, and was conveyed a prisoner to St. Helena, where he died, after nearly six years' suffering, on the 5th of May, 1821.
Before his return to Paris, Louis XVIII had issued a proclamation from Cambray, granting a free pardon to all who had taken part in the Revolution, with the exception of its chief authors, and constituted a liberal administration under Talleyrand; which, however, was speedily over thrown by the court party, headed by the king's brother, the Compte d' Artois. An act was then passed by the ultra-royalist majority in the chambers, excluding from the amnesty, and condemning to perpetual banishment, all who had taken part in the murder of Louis XVI.
Ney was arraigned before the chamber of peers, found guilty of high treason and shot. Louis XVIII having been persuaded to dissolve the chambers, some projects of law, of a more liberal character, respecting elections, liberty of the press and person, etc., were carried through the new chambers by the Due de Richelieu, who also obtained at the congress of Aix la Chapelle, 1818, the withdrawal of the army of occupation, and a remission of some portion of the debt still due from France to the allies. In return for these concessions Louis XVIII joined the holy alliance.