Before reading about Wellington extensively in historical fiction, I only knew him as the man who defeated Napoleon, and that the style of boots that he preferred was named for him. Later this year, I am going on a tour of Wellington-related locales in England with the bloggers from Number One London.
The 1st Duke of Wellington is one of my historical heroes. Born Arthur Wellesley in 1769 in Ireland, the Duke of Wellington is most famous for defeating Napoleon at Waterloo. He first entered the military in 1787, fought in the Netherlands and in India. Later he was promoted to field marshal in the Peninsular War. After Napoleon’s exile, he served as ambassador to France and gained the title of Duke of Wellington. After the later Battle of Waterloo, he served as prime minister and was in the House of Lords. Also, he kept the title Commander-in-Chief of the British Army until his death. Wellington died in 1852, and he is entombed in St. Paul’s Cathedral as is Admiral Lord Nelson. Wellington and Nelson actually met seven weeks before Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar.
—Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Robert Home, 1804, oil on canvas,
29 1/2 in x 24 1/2 in, National Portrait Gallery, London
One of the traits that stand out about Wellington is that even though he was born to the aristocracy, he actually cared about the lives of his men who fought for him. He was not an emotional man, but after the siege of Badajoz and the Battle of Waterloo, he was very emotional and could never be jubilant in celebrating victory due to the high casualties.
–cartoon by William Heath, a political cartoonist and caricaturist (1794-1840)
Many have heard of Wellington, New Zealand, named after the Duke, but did you know there is a Wellington, Texas, also named after him? Thirteen other states in America also have cities named Wellington. The Texas Wellington is in the panhandle located in Collingsworth County. The landowner’s wife of the soon to be incorporated town in 1890 was an admirer of the Duke and chose the name.
–from the early days of Wellington, Texas