Wellington dances the flamenco

Posted by Helen Wednesday, April 12, 2006

This is what Andrew Roberts, the first conservative historian to be interviewed for the Conservative History Journal wrote this in his “Napoleon and Wellington” about April 12, 1814:

“[Marshal] Soult withdrew the next day to Carcassonne, leaving most of his guns and 1,600 wounded, and at noon on 12 April Wellington entered the city of Toulouse. He found that the stone eagles had been pulled off the administrative buildings there and Napoleon’s statue had been thrown out of the window of the Capitol. He saw the Bourbon white flag flying everywhere, ‘and everybody wearing the white cockade’ of the Legitimist monarchy of Louis XVIII.

At 5 p.m. that day Colonel Frederick Ponsonby of the 12th Light Dragoons, the emissary from Allied headquarters, found Wellington in his shirtsleeves, pulling on his boots. ‘I have extraordinary news for you,’ Ponsonby said. ‘Ay, I thought so. I knew we should have peace; I’ve long expected it,’ answered Wellington. ‘No; Napoleon has abdicated. ‘ ‘How abdicated!’ Wellington cried. ‘Ay, ‘tis time indeed. You don’t say so, upon my honour! Hurrah!’ Wellington then turned on his heel and snapped his fingers in a triumphal pastiche of a flamenco dance. The
Peninsular War was over.”
That picture of Wellington dancing the flamenco as a flourish of his own private celebration of the end of the gruelling Peninsular campaign goes a long way towards explaining why the Duke of all Britain’s military and political men is held not just in high esteem but great affection, as he was by his own soldiers and officers.

The book, incidentally, is a cracking good read and, as one would expect, superbly well researched history.


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