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1815 has a significance both within the factual French (and even European) history, as well as for the fictional characters within the novel.

- 18th June 1815: Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon's final defeat.

- The novel starts in 1815.
- M. Myriel and Jean Valjean meet in that year.
- Thénardier's mythical past is anchored in events that took place at Waterloo.