#OTD in 1815 – Battle of Waterloo, when British forces, under the command of the Duke of Wellington, a Dubliner, defeat Napoleon’s forces.

The Iron Duke wasn’t the only Irish presence on the day — Napoleon’s horse Marengo was reared in Co Wexford, and the Duke of Wellington’s mount was from Co Cork.

Arthur Wellesley was born in what is now Dublin’s Merrion Hotel and spent much of his childhood in Ireland, not that he was proud of it. Daniel O’Connell, said in a speech  on 16 October 1843, ‘The poor old Duke! what shall I say of him? To be sure he was born in Ireland, but being born in a stable does not make a man a horse’.

After the Battle of Waterloo, Wellington returned to politics, gaining a post in the Conservative government. In 1828, he reluctantly accepted the post of Prime Minister. His political style matched his military style. Strict, authoritarian and isolationist in foreign policy. He did force through the Catholic Emancipation Act 1829 – which helped to remove discrimination against Catholics. He was opposed to any parliamentary reform and extension of the electoral franchise. His tough stance brought him many enemies.

The Wellington Boot was worn and popularised by Wellesley. The Duke instructed his shoemaker, Hoby of St. James’s Street, London, to modify the 18th-century Hessian boot. The resulting new boot was fabricated in soft calfskin leather, had the trim removed and was cut to fit more closely around the leg. The heels were low-cut, stacked around an inch (2.5 centimetres), and the boot stopped at mid-calf. It was suitably hard-wearing for riding, yet smart enough for informal evening wear. The boot was dubbed the Wellington and the name has stuck.

Image | The Wellington Monument, Phoenix Park, Dublin

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