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Duke of Wellington

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Sharpe's mate

Duke of Wellington Wiki Page

aka the Duke of Boots, see also Napoleon, Waterloo, Peninsular Campaign etc etc.

Arthur Wellesley (born 1 May 1769) was Britain's most successful General of the Napoleonic Wars. (Well, he brought them to an end. Now THAT's success.) Once said of his soldiers, "I don't know if they frighten the enemy, but they scare the hell out of me." Trouble was, the lads had too much time to get on the piss, after kicking the French out of Spanish towns way ahead of schedule.

He held the line at Waterloo, resisting Napoleon's cavalry charges whilst the Prussians, under Marshal Blücher, finished their lunch. When the Marshal and his merry menschen finally turned up, Wellington greeted his ally warmly. Something along the lines of, "What the fcuk kept you, you fat Kraut freeloader?" Years of soldiering had taught young Arthur the value of getting right to the point. Blücher was a gentleman of the old school, and his reply bespeaks his standing as a gentleman and diplomat: "Vot are you vhingeing about, you Englischer oaf?"

Fisticuffs took place, as these two European diplomatic leaders observed the formalities of the situation. 15-minute rounds of bare-knuckle combat, with the requisite 1-minute rest period sitting on the knees of their respective seconds, before the protagonists resumed their kicking, kneeing, elbowing, gouging and occasional punching of each other. An honourable draw declared after 6 exhilarating rounds, the gentlemen retired to their bath-tents to prepare for dinner, where they drank a toast to the bright future of Europe.

Napoleon was finally packed off to St Helena (a bloody long swim if he had any further bright ideas of European conquest). Wellington presided over the committee which oversaw the future shape of France and Europe. He had no difficulty in getting this committee to do his bidding. They'd all heard of his treatment of Blücher, and were anxious to avoid similar personal bludgeoning.

Wellington, like many great soldiers, also fancied himself as a political leader. He became Prime Minister in 1828 for two years, and again briefly in 1834. A busy, if frustrating, political career, during which he gained the nickname "the Iron Duke". This was owing to his having to fit iron bars to the windows of his mansion, which were constantly being broken by discontented constituents. He finally retired from politics in 1846, and died in September 1852.

His State funeral would not have pleased him in some of its aspects. He expressly asked that his body not be transported by barge down the Thames, but this was done nevertheless. (He was in no position to argue, now was he?) His titles have been passed down through the generations, and are extant - although none of his descendants has equaled his exploits.