Yesterday in History - The Duel!
On the 21st March 1829, a famous duel took place in Battersea Fields between the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchilsea. Duelling was very much tied to the defence of one's honour and a man might resort to a duel to defend his honour if someone had intimated that he was a coward, or if a lady's reputation was at stake or even in the case of some bored young aristocrats, simply for sport.
The duel that took place between the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchelsea was a political one. In 1828 Wellington became Prime Minister. One of his first achievements was overseeing Catholic emancipation and granting almost full civil rights to Catholics in the United Kingdom. The decision caused feelings to run very high and Wellington persuaded the King to agree to the reform only through threatening to resign over it. Lord Winchilsea, an opponent of the bill, claimed that by granting freedoms to Catholics Wellington "treacherously plotted the destruction of the Protestant constitution." Wellington, his honour impugned, immediately challenged him to a duel.
The newspapers of the day announced that fortunately the duel had not had fatal consequences - the opponents deliberately missed one another. Wellington had shot wide and Winchilsea had deloped, firing into the air. "Duel Day" is still celebrated on 21st March at Kings College London, a university college founded in 1829 with the backing of non-Anglican Christians and other faiths.
Labels: duel, Duke of Wellington, King's College
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