Inspiring Purpose

Arthur Wellesley

Arthur Wellesley was one of Britain's most successful soldiers. His victory at Waterloo in 1815 was the final defeat of Napoleon's attempt to rule Europe and ended centuries of warfare between Britain and France.

Arthur Wesley (Wellesley after 1798) was born in Dublin, the son of an Irish peer, the 1st Earl of Mornington. He studied at Chelsea, Eton and Brussels, and at a military school at Angers. In 1787 he was appointed to an ensign's commission in the 73rd Foot, and after service in other regiments was promoted to the rank of captain. He also served as aide-de-camp to two lord-lieutenants of Ireland and was member for Trim in the Irish Parliament (1790-95). He proposed marriage to Lady Katherine ('Kitty') Pakenham, but was refused because of his lack of means. His brother Richard Wellesley now bought him command of the 33rd Foot, and he campaigned with it in Holland in 1794.

In 1797 his regiment was sent to India, where his brother arrived as Governor-General within a year. He was dispatched to deal with Tippoo Sahib of Mysore and, as brigade commander under General George Harris (1746-1829), did admirable work throughout the Seringapatam expedition and as subsequent administrator of the conquered territory. His campaigns against Holkar and Scindia resulted in the capture of Poona (1803), the breaking of Maratha power at Ahmednagar and Assaye, and final victory at Argaum. On his return home he was knighted (1805), and in 1806 he succeeded in marrying Kitty Pakenham, who bore him two sons. He was elected MP for Rye (1806-09), and appointed Irish Secretary in 1807. He was released from his parliamentary duties to accompany the Copenhagen expedition the same year, and defeated the Danes at Sjaelland.

In 1808 he was sent to help the Portuguese against the French in the Peninsular War; there he defeated Andoche Junot at Rolia, and won a victory at Vimeiro. He resumed his parliamentary post; but John Moore's retreat on La Coruña sent him back, in 1809, to assume chief command in the Peninsula. Talavera (July 1809) was nearly a blunder, but it was quickly retrieved, and Wellesley was elevated to the peerage (as Viscount Wellington) after his victory. Salamanca (July 1812) was a decisive victory and, although there were minor setbacks, ultimately the French were driven out of Spain and brought to submission at Toulouse in 1814. Created Duke of Wellington and heaped with honours, after the first Treaty of Paris he was appointed ambassador to Louis XVIII, the newly restored King of France.
He remained in Paris until the Congress of Vienna, where for a brief period he served as Viscount Castlereagh's replacement. On learning of Napoleon I's escape from Elba, Wellington hastened from the Congress to take command of the scratch force (which he called 'an infamous army') mustered to oppose him. After the defeat of Blücher and his supporting forces at Ligny, Wellington took up opposition on the well-reconnoitred field of Waterloo, where the French were routed on 18 June 1815. Following this he was appointed Commander-in-Chief during the occupation of France (1815-18).

In 1818 he left the army and returned to politics. joining the Liverpool administration as Master-General of the Ordnance. In 1826 Wellington was made Constable of the Tower, and in 1827 Commander-in-Chief, an office in which he was confirmed for life in 1842. He represented Great Britain at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818) and the Congress of Verona (1822), and in 1826 was sent to Russia by George Canning to negotiate binding Britain, France and Russia to impose recognition of Greek autonomy on Turkey; the Duke disapproved of Canning's foreign policy so strongly that he resigned, but with Canning's death in 1827 and the collapse of the nebulous Goderich administration, he became Prime Minister. In general, Wellington's political policy was to support established authority during a turbulent time in British politics and to avoid foreign wars.

He retired from public life in 1846. He was appointed Lord High Constable of England, and in 1848 organized the military in London against the Chartist agitators. He was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.

Arthur Wellesley was one of Britain's most successful soldiers. His victory at Waterloo in 1815 was the final defeat of Napoleon's attempt to rule Europe and ended centuries of warfare between Britain and France.

Arthur Wesley (Wellesley after 1798) was born in Dublin, the son of an Irish peer, the 1st Earl of Mornington. He studied at Chelsea, Eton and Brussels, and at a military school at Angers. In 1787 he was appointed to an ensign's commission in the 73rd Foot, and after service in other regiments was promoted to the rank of captain. He also served as aide-de-camp to two lord-lieutenants of Ireland and was member for Trim in the Irish Parliament (1790-95). He proposed marriage to Lady Katherine ('Kitty') Pakenham, but was refused because of his lack of means. His brother Richard Wellesley now bought him command of the 33rd Foot, and he campaigned with it in Holland in 1794.

In 1797 his regiment was sent to India, where his brother arrived as Governor-General within a year. He was dispatched to deal with Tippoo Sahib of Mysore and, as brigade commander under General George Harris (1746-1829), did admirable work throughout the Seringapatam expedition and as subsequent administrator of the conquered territory. His campaigns against Holkar and Scindia resulted in the capture of Poona (1803), the breaking of Maratha power at Ahmednagar and Assaye, and final victory at Argaum. On his return home he was knighted (1805), and in 1806 he succeeded in marrying Kitty Pakenham, who bore him two sons. He was elected MP for Rye (1806-09), and appointed Irish Secretary in 1807. He was released from his parliamentary duties to accompany the Copenhagen expedition the same year, and defeated the Danes at Sjaelland.

In 1808 he was sent to help the Portuguese against the French in the Peninsular War; there he defeated Andoche Junot at Rosita, and won a victory at Vimeiro. He resumed his parliamentary post; but John Moore's retreat on La Coruña sent him back, in 1809, to assume chief command in the Peninsula. Talavera (July 1809) was nearly a blunder, but it was quickly retrieved, and Wellesley was elevated to the peerage (as Viscount Wellington) after his victory. Salamanca (July 1812) was a decisive victory and, although there were minor setbacks, ultimately the French were driven out of Spain and brought to submission at Toulouse in 1814. Created Duke of Wellington and heaped with honours, after the first Treaty of Paris he was appointed ambassador to Louis XVIII, the newly restored King of France.
He remained in Paris until the Congress of Vienna, where for a brief period he served as Viscount Castlereagh's replacement. On learning of Napoleon I's escape from Elba, Wellington hastened from the Congress to take command of the scratch force (which he called 'an infamous army') mustered to oppose him. After the defeat of Blücher and his supporting forces at Ligny, Wellington took up opposition on the well-reconnoitred field of Waterloo, where the French were routed on 18 June 1815. Following this he was appointed Commander-in-Chief during the occupation of France (1815-18).

In 1818 he left the army and returned to politics. joining the Liverpool administration as Master-General of the Ordnance. In 1826 Wellington was made Constable of the Tower, and in 1827 Commander-in-Chief, an office in which he was confirmed for life in 1842. He represented Great Britain at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818) and the Congress of Verona (1822), and in 1826 was sent to Russia by George Canning to negotiate binding Britain, France and Russia to impose recognition of Greek autonomy on Turkey; the Duke disapproved of Canning's foreign policy so strongly that he resigned, but with Canning's death in 1827 and the collapse of the nebulous Goderich administration, he became Prime Minister. In general, Wellington's political policy was to support established authority during a turbulent time in British politics and to avoid foreign wars.

He retired from public life in 1846. He was appointed Lord High Constable of England, and in 1848 organized the military in London against the Chartist agitators. He was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.

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