Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: Arthur Wellesley, the Iron Duke

Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769 – 1852) was one of the most famous citizens of Regency Britain. He achieved prominence in the Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. Following Napoleon’s defeat in 1814, he was named ambassador to France and was granted a dukedom. After Napoleon’s escape, Wellington led the allies to victory at the Battle of Waterloo. He served as Prime Minister twice and Commander-in-Chief of the British Army until his death in 1852.

As for his private life, in 1806 he married Catherine “Kitty” Pakenham in Dublin but the marriage was unsuccessful. They lived apart most of their marriage until her death in 1831. Wellington conducted numerous affairs and kept a succession of mistresses. Wellington had a long-term friendship with Harriet Arbuthnot and her husband Charles who was 26 years her elder. Though they probably did not have an affair, Harriet gave to Wellington all that was missing from his relationship with his wife. When Harriet died in 1834, Wellington maintained his relationship with Charles to the extent that they lived together until Charles’ death a couple of years before Wellington’s.  (See her pic on right)

Wellington Prior to his marriage to Kitty, Wellington had a short-lived affair with the famous courtesan Harriett Wilson. In 1824 Wellington received a letter from Wilson’s publisher offering to refrain from including him in an edition of the Wilson’s racy memoirs in exchange for financial consideration. (The price was £10 per year or £200 for a one-time payment). The Duke returned the missive, after scrawling across it, “Publish and be damned.”  The worst that Harriet wrote was that he boring. Next Moonday, My Regency Novel    Rita Bay

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