Segments in this Video

Duke of Wellington (02:27)


Arthur Wellesley gained much of his fame by defeating Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. He became the symbol for British greatness and dominance, but his personal life differed from his Iron Duke reputation.

Arthur Wellesley (03:23)

The future Duke of Wellington was the younger son of an Irish aristocratic family. He spent nine years fighting with the British army in India and returned home in 1805 as a rich, well-respected general. His goal was to marry Kitty Pakenham.

Wellesley's Marriage (05:34)

Wellesley and Pakenham quickly married and moved to Dublin where Wellesley served as the chief sectary for Ireland; they realized they had little in common. Wellesley disliked Ireland and grew dismayed with its politics; Pakenham struggled to run a household.

Wellesley's Affairs (01:53)

Wellesley fathered two sons with Pakenham but began an affair with Harriett Wilson. It was rumored that he had multiple illegitimate children by the time he married Pakenham.

Wellesley's Military Return (04:12)

In 1808, Wellesley and a small army went to Spain to assist an uprising against Napolean's rule; he spent five years fighting the French. He was an organized and pragmatic commander, who wanted his men to fear and respect him.

Wellesley at Salamanca (02:38)

On July 22, 1812, Wellesley's army and the French were on the move outside Salamanca. Wellesley launched a surprise attack against the French. The swift defeat of 40,000 French soldiers helped build Wellesley's reputation as a respected general.

Wellesley's Family (03:20)

Wellesley rarely sent letters home while building his military reputation in Spain. Pakenham kept a diary outlining her lonely existence, raising their two sons in London; they did not remember their father.

Wellesley in Paris (02:48)

In October 1813, Wellesley crossed into France with British troops; Napoleon abdicated. Napoleon's time fighting against Wellesley in Spain played a key role in his downfall. Wellesley became Duke of Wellington in 1814 and received a hero's welcome in Paris, where he had numerous affairs.

Wellington the Ambassador (03:34)

Wellington became the British ambassador to France and moved his family to Paris. His numerous affairs were common knowledge and put Pakenham in a humiliating position.

Battle of Waterloo (03:52)

After Napoleon escaped exile and built a new army, Wellington met him at Waterloo on June 18, 1815; Napoleon was defeated. Eight hours of hand-to-hand combat left 22,000 of Wellington's men dead or wounded.

Wellington in Politics (04:50)

Wellington bought a house in London and began a high-ranking military post within the government. His sexual behavior was satirized in political cartoons and he began an affair with Princess Levan. He was less suited for politics and his conservative views did not match changing British life.

Cato Street Conspiracy (07:23)

The conspiracy was a thwarted plot to murder the entire cabinet, including Wellington. His treatment of Pakenham was cited as a justification for his death. The couple lived apart full-time and Wellington's relationship with his sons grew more distant.

Prime Minister (03:58)

Wellington was appointed to the position in 1828 and struggled with the politics of the job. The public called for universal suffrage and parliamentary reform, which he openly opposed. He blocked a reform bill, which caused rioting through the country.

Wellington in Crisis (04:45)

As Pakenham began dying of stomach cancer, Wellington began showing her devotion. Wellington criticized her in letters to his friends after her death. Fearing the country was moving to anarchy, Wellington permitted the reform bill to move forward.

Wellington's Legacy (03:55)

In his later life, Wellington was seen as a gentle old man, who was kind to his grandchildren. He died in 1852 at the age of 83. His actions regarding the reform bill were mostly forgotten and he was remembered as the hero of Waterloo.

Credits: Wellington - The Iron Duke Unmasked (00:29)

Credits: Wellington - The Iron Duke Unmasked

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Wellington - The Iron Duke Unmasked

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Rising from awkward middle son, living in his elder brother’s shadow, and unpromising junior officer, Arthur Wellesley became the 1st Duke of Wellington, and a towering figure in British history. But how much do we really know about the Iron Duke, and how do his private, personal thoughts fit with his public persona? As this documentary reveals, the true nature of the Duke’s character was far different. The film focuses on the intriguing complexities of Wellington, his character, personality, and relationships, told through his own words and the words of those who knew him. Using a rich and extensive written archive, it goes beyond the well-worn clichés to reveal the real man behind his reputation as a phlegmatic hero.

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL188082

ISBN: 978-1-64867-276-7

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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