Famous Personalities of India : Arthur Wellesley
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Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of (1769-1852), British general and prime minister (1828-30 and 1834), best known for his victory over Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo.

Wellesley was born on May 1, 1769, in Dublin and educated at Eton College and the Military Academy of Angers in France. He was commissioned as ensign in the British army in 1787 and was elected to the Irish parliament in 1790. During the War of the First Coalition (1793-97), he participated in the unsuccessful campaign of 1794-95 against French forces in the Netherlands. In 1796 Wellesley, now holding the rank of colonel in the army, went to India, where he subsequently received his first independent command. Richard Colley Wellesley, his brother, was appointed governor general of India in 1797. Arthur took part in several military campaigns; in the Battle of Assaye in 1803, he subdued the Marathas, then the dominant people of India. Returning to England in 1805 he was rewarded with a knighthood and with election to the British Parliament.

Wellesley was involved in the struggle against Napoleon. In 1808 he was given command of the British expeditionary forces in Portugal, where in 1810 he first made use of his famous military tactic known as the scorched-earth policy, laying waste to the countryside behind him as he and his troops moved on. In the ensuing Peninsular War (1808-14), which resulted in the expulsion of Napoleon's armies from Portugal and Spain, Wellesley's troops won a series of victories, especially at Talavera de la Reina (1809), Salamanca (1812), Vitoria (1813), and Toulouse (1814). In 1814 he was created 1st duke of Wellington.

On June 18, 1815, with the help of forces under the Prussian field marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Wellington decisively defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. He remained in France for the next three years as head of the allied army of occupation.

In 1818, Wellington returned to England and was given a post in the Tory cabinet headed by the statesman Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd earl of Liverpool. He left the cabinet in 1827 upon his appointment as commander in chief of the British army. At the insistence of King George IV, he was named prime minister in 1828. Soon thereafter he provoked the British electorate by opposing parliamentary reform, an issue that forced his resignation as prime minister and the formation of a Whig ministry in 1830. He remained in Parliament, was briefly prime minister again in 1834. In 1842 Wellington was again made commander in chief of the British army, a post he retained until his death. He died at his home, Walmer Castle, Kent, on September 14, 1852, and was buried in Saint Paul's Cathedral in London.

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