Wellington, Duke of

(Arthur Wellesley)
   The British general who helped liberate Portugal from French occupation under Napoleon's armies (1808-11), turned back three French invasions, and enabled Portugal to reassert its independence as a nation-state. Born in Ireland, Arthur Wellesley became the most talented and honored soldier of several generations during the first half of the 19th century. He attended Great Britain's famed public school, Eton, and entered the British army and first served in the Low Countries in the 1790s and then in campaigns in British India and the 1807 Copenhagen expedition.
   When the British government decided to send an expedition to oppose Napoleon's occupation of Portugal, Wellesley was appointed commander of the force, which landed at the mouth of the Mondego River on 1 August 1808. For the next three years, the famous lieutenant general led Anglo-Portuguese forces against the three French invasions and, by 1811, had defeated the French. Wellington's forces proceeded across the frontier into Spain where, for the next two years, the allied forces fought victoriously against the French. Wellington received a number of honors, titles, and decorations from Portugal for his heroic efforts; after the final expulsion of French forces under Masséna, in 1810, Portugal's government granted Wellington—among other honors—the title of viscount of Vimieiro and the medal the Grand Cross of the Tower and the Sword (Torre e Espada).

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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