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Arthur Wellesley - 1st Duke of Wellington

Updated on December 01, 2016

One of the greatest generals in British history, and also a prominent politician. Wellington won a high military reputation in campaigns in India, and secured a place in history as one of its greatest generals through his long and arduous struggle against the French in the Peninsular War in Spain and Portugal between 1808 and 1814. His victories there, the most notable of which were Salamanca and Vitoria, were almost the only serious defeats suffered by Napoleon's marshals, and in 1815 Wellington defeated Napoleon himself at Waterloo. After the wars, Wellington embarked on a political career. But here his touch was less sure. As prime minister from 1828 to 1830, he split his party over Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform. As leader of the House of Lords, however, he insisted that peers could not flout the wishes of the House of Commons. This led him to support the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, though he personally disliked the measure. From 1842 until his death, Wellington was also commander-in-chief of the British army.

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