Seminars meet each weekday morning, 09.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study or exploring the many beautiful places in and around the city.
Wellington’s early life was far from straightforward. As the middle son of an Irish peer he was not deprived but neither was he the embodiment of aristocratic privilege. He made an unpromising start and was considered only suitable for the army. His early service took him to India, where patronage helped him recover from initial disappointment. He was to grasp the second opportunity with all the strength he could muster.
Returning from India as a “Sepoy General” he was keen to prove his worth on the European stage. Patronage enabled him to lead an army to Portugal to fight against Napoleon’s troops. After seven long years he defeated the French; his reputation was sealed. In early 1815, when Napoleon escaped from Elba, Europe turned to Wellington and he repaid their confidence by defeating him at the decisive Battle of Waterloo.
Returning home in 1818 he took up a political appointment. It was one of many he was to fulfil in a political career lasting nearly 30 years. But these were turbulent and difficult times. Parliamentary Reform proved too much and brought his premiership and ministry to an end. He remained in the public eye, but was increasingly viewed as a “stiff-necked conqueror who trailed an unwelcome scabbard into civilian assemblies”.
Field trip to Stratfield Saye House.
Wellington undoubtedly enjoyed the company of women – yet he found himself locked into the most unfortunate of marriages. In Paris in 1814-15 female adoration of Wellington became known as la nouvelle religion. His reputation as a ladies’ man became increasingly difficult to dispel. As a father he was also found wanting. His two sons, Arthur and Charles grew up without him and when he returned they found their father distant.
Destination: Stratfield Saye House; Hampshire
Excursion Rating: Moderate
Up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.