Duke of Wellington

(Arthur Wellesley)


Duke of Wellington
The Duke of Wellington, is one of the best known military leaders associated with the Napoleonic Wars. He gained renown for his grueling, five year campaign against the French on the Iberian Peninsula, during the Peninsular War, but he is best known for leading the allies against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. He was a careful and conservative general who frequently won battles in difficult circumstances and inspired discipline and loyalty in his troops. As a well respected commander, he gravitated naturally toward politics and became a leader of the Tory party after the War, and eventually Prime Minister.

In Wellington's youth he did not show particular signs of promise. His talent as a military leader was not apparent until he was assigned to India while his brother was governor-general of the region. During nearly ten years in India, he established an excellent reputation both as a military commander and a governor. He defeated Tippoo Sultan in the last of the Mysore Wars and distinguished himself with several very successful campaigns during the Second Maratha War in 1803. His time in India corresponded to period of the French Revolutionary Wars and he returned to England near the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars.

Portugal had long been an close ally of Britain, and opposed Napoleon's "Continental Policy", which forbid trade with England. In 1808 Portugal rebelled, and Napoleon sent troops to France to put down the rebellion. At this time, Wellington was sent drive the French out of Portugal, which he did successfully before being recalled to England. He returned the following year however, as it became clear that the Spanish as well as the Portuguese were trying to resist Napoleon, and Britain was duty-bound to help. For the next four years Wellington led the combined Anglo-Portuguese-Spanish effort against the French, and succeeded in driving them from the Iberian Peninsula. He was still campaigning in early 1914 when Napoleon surrendered in Paris.

Relief at the allies victory over Napoleon was short lived however. He soon escaped from his imprisonment on Elba, retook control of the French army, and made a quick offensive into the Rhine Valley with the object of attacking the allies before they could muster their forces. With very little warning, Wellington met Napoleon for the first time, at the Battle of Waterloo. After a horrendous conflict Wellington and his Prussian ally Blucher were victorious, and the Napoleonic Wars were finally brought to a close. Wellington was a conservative general, and afterward, became a conservative politician and a leader of the Tory party. He served as Prime Minister in the early years of Victoria's reign and somewhat ironically, was a champion of Catholic Emancipation in Ireland.

Key events during the life of Arthur Wellesley:

Born the third son of protestant noble in Ireland
Attends military school in France.
Received a commission in the army and rose through the ranks.
First active duty in Flanders.
Promoted to colonel, and assigned to India.
Fought in the Final Mysore Wars against Tippoo Sultan.
Appointed governor of Seringapatam by his brother, then general-governor of India.
Led a very successful campaign in the Maratha Wars.
Returned to England, married, elected to Parliament.
Sent to Portugal and drove the French out in the first campaign of the Peninsular War.
Sir John Moore dies at the Battle of Corunna
Wellington returns to Portugal and opens and offensive. Great victory at Talavera.
Builds Lines of Torres Vedras to protect Portugal.
Led Anglo-Portuguese offensive, as soon as Napoleon withdrew troops for Russian Campaign.
Final Anglo-Portuguese offensive drives the French across the Pyrenees.
Napoleon surrenders to the allies in Paris
Napoleon returns to power. Defeated by Wellington and Blucher at Waterloo.
became involved in politics; appointed to a Tory post.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
The French in Spain  in  A Child's History of Spain  by  John Bonner
From Lisbon to the Pyrenees  in  Stories from English History, Part Third  by  Alfred J. Church
Waterloo  in  Stories from English History, Part Third  by  Alfred J. Church
Peninsular War  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin
Waterloo  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin
Story of Wellington  in  Back Matter  by  books/lord/stpauls/_back.html
George III—The Battle of Waterloo  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
Wellington in  Boy's Book of Famous Soldiers  by  J. Walker McSpadden
Nelson and Wellington  in  Nations of Europe and the Great War  by  Charles Morris
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington  in  Great Englishmen  by  M. B. Synge
Rise of Wellington  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Victory of Talavera  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Wellington's Victories in Spain  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Eve of Waterloo  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Waterloo  in  The Boy's Book of Battles  by  Eric Wood

Image Links

Heroes of Waterloo
 in The Hanoverians

The Meeting of Wellington and Blucher
 in  The Story of the English

Sir Arthur Wellesley
 in India: Peeps at History
Arthur, Duke of Wellington
Arthur, Duke of Wellington
 in Back Matter
A Review of the British Army by Wellington
A Review of the British Army by Wellington
 in Back Matter

Not till after the battle did Blucher and Wellington meet.
 in Our Island Story

Wellington at Waterloo
 in Great Englishmen

The Duke of Wellington
 in The Reign of Queen Victoria

Short Biography
Victoria I Longest reigning English Monarch. Presided over the British Empire at its height.
Napoleon Victorious general who rose to power during the French Revolution. Crowned himself Emperor and restored France to greatness.
Marshal Blucher Prussian Field Marshall who opposed Napoleon at Leipzig and Waterloo. (At age 72!)
Marquess Wellesley Governor-general of India, fought Second Maratha and Mysore wars. Later, promoted Catholic emancipation.
John Moore Napoleonic War hero who died at the Battle of Coruna.
Viscount Beresford One of Wellington's chief generals in the Peninsular War.