The Duke of Wellington and the British Army of Occupation in France, 1815-1818

The Duke of Wellington and the British Army of Occupation in France, 1815-1818

The Duke of Wellington and the British Army of Occupation in France, 1815-1818

The Duke of Wellington and the British Army of Occupation in France, 1815-1818

Synopsis

A relatively unexamined aspect of the career of the Duke of Wellington--his command of allied forces occupying France--serves as the focus of this work. Veve traces the history of the 1815-1818 occupation and the significant role that Wellington played in making the first multinational peacekeeping force a success. He explores the decisions made and procedures established by the Duke, and demonstrates that Wellington's command was not simply the final chapter in a successful military career, but rather an important transition to his future political endeavors.

Excerpt

This study of the Duke of Wellington and the allied army of occupation of 1815-1818 had its genesis in 1985, when Professor John W. Rooney, Jr., first suggested to me that the role of the allied army left in France after the Second Treaty of Paris and its part in the European peace arrangements after the Battle of Waterloo required examination. He indicated that this subject had never been (discussed and that the allied army had never received due credit for its peacekeeping role. As I began reading and researching on the issue, it became obvious to me that the Duke of Wellington played the key role in the success of this operation, and this aspect of the story warranted scholarly investigation.

Though the biographies of Wellington are fewer in number than those about Napoleon, the duke's military career has been exhaustively studied. Yet, new biographies continue to appear about him. Studies concerning his performances in India, in Spain, and at Waterloo are complete. One thing that all these studies have in common is the lack of careful consideration of his three-year command of the allied occupation army in France. Biographies, such as those by Stephen G. P. Ward, Philip Guedella, Oliver Brett, and Richard Aldington, have relegated Wellington's command between 1815 and 1818 to a few paragraphs, and they fail to examine the major role that Wellington played, not only as a military officer, but as a statesman, during his tenure as commander-in-chief of the occupation army. Elizabeth Longford's more recent book does the same. No specialized studies of these three years exist. Wellington's command in France is not simply the final chapter of a successful military career. It serves as an important transition to his future political career.

Wellington never wavered from the mission assigned to him and the army by the European powers. The army was to provide for the future security of Europe by curbing residual French expansionist tendencies, while allowing Louis XVIII the time to reconsolidate his rule. Wellington was guided in his decision-making processes by these goals. It was through his command that European objectives were met. Wellington set the standard for individual behavior. He decided when the allied troop reduction was going to take place. He was responsible for the inspection of the Dutch barrier fortress . . .

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