Did You Know?

Here are seven things you might not have known about Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.

  1. He was such a poor scholar that his mother took him out of school so she could afford to send his gifted younger brothers instead.
    His mother believed that he was only fit for a military career. She referred to him as her ‘awkward son Arthur ... food for powder and nothing more’.

  2. He went to a military academy in France.
    The Royal Academy of Equitation at Angers instructed Wellington in French grammar, mathematics and military fortification, all of which would be of future use.

  3. He was rumoured to have had affairs with two former mistresses of Napoleon.
    While serving as British ambassador in Paris, Wellington was linked to singer Giuseppina Grassini and actress Marguerite Weimer. The latter let it be known that, compared to Napoleon, the Duke was by far the more impressive lover.

  4. He fought a duel while Prime Minister.
    Following a provocative letter published by the Earl of Winchilsea, Wellington challenged the man to a duel, which the two fought at Battersea in 1829.

  5. He married his wife thirteen years after he first proposed.
    Wellington was disappointed to find that Catherine ‘Kitty’ Pakenham had changed in this time; he is said to have remarked ungallantly to his brother that ‘she has grown ugly, by Jove!’

  6. An attempt was made on his life in Paris in 1818.
    Three years later, Napoleon left the would-be assassin a legacy in his will.

  7. More than sixty streets in Greater London are named after him.
    You can see some of these, and add your own, on our Pinterest map here.