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Courses / Modules / HIST2094 Wellington and the war against Napoleon

Wellington and the war against Napoleon

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 5
Module lead
Chris Woolgar

Module overview

From 1793, for more than 20 years, Britain and her allies were almost continually at war, first against the armies of revolutionary France, then against Napoleon and the combined forces of his empire. Initially this was an ideological struggle — the terror of revolution embedded itself deep in the psyche of the late eighteenth century; subsequently it was a conflict which, while more traditional in its nature, was without precedent in its scale and consequences. Britain’s forces were engaged across the oceans, from the Low Countries to South America, from Cape Town to Calcutta and Penang, as well as on the home front.

This module looks at Britain’s engagement with the struggle against Napoleon through the career of one of her foremost generals, the Duke of Wellington. From the start of his career as a soldier, in Ireland, through service in India, the campaigns of the Peninsular War, to Waterloo and the occupation of France, his professional life was wholly focused on this struggle against France.

The module will make special use of Wellington’s papers, in the University Library, to understand the practicalities of warfare, the way decisions were made, the political context and the ability of Wellington to work with Britain’s allies on the Continent, in Portugal, Spain and France in 1808-14, and then in the Waterloo campaign of 1815.

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