Letter written by King George IV praised the Duke of Wellington

Letter written by King George IV while he was Prince Regent which praised the Duke of Wellington for ‘glorious conduct’ after victory at Battle of Vitoria in 1813 goes up for auction

  • King George IV praised Duke of Wellington praising him for his success in battle
  • The monarch, who became Prince Regent in 1811, wrote two page letter to duke
  • Battle saw Wellington’s British-Portuguese-Spanish army defeat French in Spain 

A heartfelt letter penned by King George IV to the Duke of Wellington praising him for his success in the Battle of Vitoria in 1813 has been unveiled after 207 years.

The monarch, who became Prince Regent in 1811 before going on to succeed his father George III to the throne in 1820, wrote the two page correspondence following Wellington’s triumph in the decisive battle.

The battle, which took place in Spain on June 21 in 1813, saw Wellington’s combined British-Portuguese-Spanish army defeat King Joseph Bonaparte’s French soldiers during the Peninsula war.  

In the letter, which is now on auction at Forum Auctions and is expected to fetch £120, the military leader, who went on to defeat Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo two years later, said that his ‘glorious conduct was above all human praise’.

King George IV praised the Duke of Wellington for his success in the Battle of Vitoria in 1813

In a letter, which has as come to light after 207 years and is now on auction at Forum Auctions, the monarch who was Prince Regent at the time wrote a two page correspondence to the Duke of Wellington

The soon-to-be king thanked the duke and said his ‘glorious conduct was above all human praise’

As a token of his appreciation, he said he would send him a Field Marshal’s baton, adding: ‘You have sent me among the trophies of your unrivalled fame the staff of a French Marshal, and I send you in return that of England.’  

A copy of George IV’s letter has now emerged for sale with London-based Forum Auctions.

It is believed to be from the hand of one of the Royal household, or from a member of Wellington’s staff, as a matter of record.

The battle of Vitoria, which took place on June 21, 1813, was decisive in breaking Napoleon Bonaparte’s control over Spain during the Peninsular War.  

On the day of the attack, Wellington split his soldiers into four attacking ‘columns’ and sent them towards Bonaparte’s French army who were situated in a defensive position in the Spanish city of Vitoria. 

At 8am, the allies crossed the Zadorra river at several bridges to the west in order to attack the heights overlooking the French army before heavy battle ensued. 

The battle saw around 5,000 troops under Wellington’s command killed while the French lost around 8,000 of their soldiers. 

King George IV, who was 21st Prince of Wales, did not officially ascend to the throne until 1820 following the death of George III, but his father’s increasingly ailing mental health meant he effectively ruled from 1811 onwards.

His high opinion of Wellington was not reciprocated by the duke who reputedly thought he spent too much, was morally corrupt and lazy.

Under the Duke of Wellington’s command, a combined army of English, Spanish, and Portuguese soldiers were able to fight King Joseph Bonaparte’s French army

The Battle of Vitoria was decisive in breaking Napoleon Bonaparte’s control over Spain during the Peninsular War

It is said that he often destroyed correspondence he received from George IV, meaning this could be the only surviving record of this letter.

It has been consigned for sale by a private collector.

Max Hasler, specialist at Forum Auctions, said: ‘This copy letter praises Wellington in extravagant terms after his victory at the Battle of Vitoria, and he sends him a Field Marshal’s baton.

‘It was presumably from one of the Royal household or a member of Wellington’s staff for their staff records.

‘The letter has been in the same private collection for the past 30 years.’ 

Wellington went on to twice be prime minister, with his first stint (1828-30) under the reign of George IV who died in 1830.

He was also prime minister for a month in 1834.

The sale of the letter, which is expected to fetch £120, takes place tomorrow.

Battle of Vitoria on June 21, 1813: How Duke of Wellington’s victory was decisive in breaking Napoleon’s control over Spain during Peninsular War 

The battle of Vitoria, which took in the city of Vitoria on June 21, 1813, was decisive in breaking Napoleon Bonaparte’s control over Spain during the Peninsular War.

The Duke of Wellington was able to use his combined 72,000-strong army of English, Spanish, and Portuguese soldiers, to fight King Joseph Bonaparte’s French army.

On the day of the attack, Wellington split his soldiers into four attacking ‘columns’ and sent them towards Bonaparte’s French army who were situated in a defensive position in Spain’s Vitoria.

At 8am, the allies crossed the Zadorra river at several bridges to the west in order to attack the heights overlooking the French army. 

Wellington also learned that day that the French forces had left the bridge across the Zadorra at Trespuentes unguarded which proved vital in their attack.

After heavy fighting , the French army was in full retreat by 7pm and heading towards Pamplona, leaving their bags and artillery behind.

Around 5,000 troops under Wellington’s command were killed during the battle while the French lost around 8,000 of their soldiers.

News of the victory, which quickly spread across Europe, inspired Austria, Russia, and Prussia to renew plans to attack France and they declared war on August 13.

The battle was also was the inspiration of Beethoven’s Opus 91.

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