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The Duke of Wellington
Duc de Wellington

Arthur Wesley, later Wellesley, was born in Ireland on 1st May 1769. He was the sixth child of the Count of Wesley, Lord of Ireland, and destined by his family to follow a military career.

He began this military career with the Dutch Campaign of 1794 against the French republicans. He was then a lieutenant in the 33rd Infantry. As colonel in 1797 his regiment was sent to India to return only in 1805, by which time he had reached the grade of major general.

In 1808 as Lieutenant General he commanded the troops in Portugal and defeated Junot's army in the Battle of Vimero, to the north of Lisbon.

Following his victory at Talavera (28th July 1809), he was given the titles Viscount Wellington of Talavera and Baron Douro of Welleslie.

It was only in May 1814, in other words after the abdication of Napoleon, that he would receive the title of Duke of Wellington. This general never knew defeat.

British envoy to the Congress of Vienna, victor at Waterloo, general-in-chief of the European occupying forces in France, Wellington would give up his military career in 1818 and devote himself to the politics of his country.

Several times Prime Minister in an England of increasing mechanisation and religious dissent, he assembled the Conference of European powers in London in 1830, a conference that made the independence of Belgium possible. 

He died in Walmer, nearby Dover on 14th September 1852, respected and venerated by a whole nation.