The Iron Duke

Given the upcoming superhero movie, Iron Man, which opens tomorrow, I thought perhaps you might be interested in the Iron Duke, Arthur Wellesley, 1st duke of Wellington. He was born on this day, May 1, in 1769. A native Irishman, the Iron Duke was a British Army Commander who shared in the victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, thus becoming “conqueror of the world’s conqueror.”

Wellesley later became Prime Minister of England as a Tory, during which time he saw the passage of the Catholic Emancipation and even fought (and apparently won) a duel with another duke. He also served as chancellor of Oxford, constable of the Tower, master of Trinity House, and as Queen Victoria’s father figure. Not bad for a man that history has recorded as an “honest and selfless politician.” Britannica Online writes of him:

Some modern historians have objected to the posthumous title Iron Duke on the reasonable grounds that he was neither cold nor hardhearted. Yet he himself often boasted of his iron hand in maintaining discipline. His engaging simplicity and extraordinary lack of vanity were expressed in a favourite saying, “I am but a man.”

Please note: The good folks at Britannica Online have generously granted me a free subscription to their service. Please pay them a visit and consider subscribing — especially if you home-school. This information about the Iron Duke comes from them. More posts of this nature are forthcoming, deo volente.

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