Monday, April 29, 2013

Footprints of the Napoleonic Wars - Part 2

Thursday, October 14, 2010

As well as artefacts from Napoleon and those connected to him, the Museum's collection also boasts personal effects from those who were fighting against him in the Napoleonic Wars.  Two of the United Kingdom's most important military heroes, Arhur Wellesley, Duke of Wellinton and his counterpart on the sea Admiral Horatio Nelson, victor of the Battle of Trafalgar are also represented in our collection.

It was at the Battle of Waterloo in present-day Belgium that Napoleon's tyranny was finally quashed.  The celebrated Duke of Wellington, later Prime Minister of England (1828-30), was known for being a driven leader, indifferent to comfort yet careful in his dress.  In 1815 he penned a short note to Mr. Hoby, his London bootmaker: "The last boots you sent were still too small in the calf of the leg and about an inch and a half too short in the leg.  Send me two pair more altered as I have above directed."  Now in the Museum's collection, this letter marks the point at which boots of this style became known as "Wellingtons", the Duke's unlikely legacy to modern footwear!

This pair of buckles belonged to Lord Nelson, commander at the Battle of
'Trafalgar, one of the most significant naval victories of the Napoleonic
wars, and the battle which claimed Nelson's life.  His remarkable ability
to motivate others was the "the Nelson touch" and he was well-respected
by sailors and officers alike.

Stored in a smart leather case and
finely engraved, Nelson's bejeweled
buckles were a 45th birthday gift
from the great English seaman,
Lord St. Vincent.  They are inscribed
"To Admiral Viscount Nelson from St.
Vincent, 29 September, 1803."

In the same year, England
declared war on France and
Lord St. Vincent named Nelson
Commander-in-Chief of the
Mediterranean.  Later the ornate
buckles came into the possession
of the great beauty Lady Meux, who
caused a stir in London but riding
around in her carriage drawn by zebras!
 In 1905, she presented the buckles to
Lord Charles Beresford, a British Admiral and Member of Parliament.

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